Wi-Fi Grayed Out on iPhone? Here's How To Fix It

Wifi greyed out on phone
If you see this, your iPhone might have a problem. NeONBRAND/Unsplash

For most people, the upgrade to iOS 7 didn't introduce any bugs to their iPhones, but if your iPhone was one of those negatively affected by the upgrade, it's very frustrating. Especially annoying is that one of the most common bugs involves suddenly finding your Wi-Fi grayed out and not working (an alternate version of the bug is to simply not be able to turn Wi-Fi on at all).

This problem is most often reported by iPhone 4S users, but it can affect the iPhone 5, too.

 

Your iPhone is a lot less fun when it can't get on Wi-Fi, but luckily solving the grayed-out Wi-Fi problem isn't that complex. Follow these steps and your iPhone should be back online in no time.

Option 1: Make Sure Airplane Mode Is Off

This may sound silly, but before you do anything more drastic, make sure Airplane Mode isn't turned on. This is a feature designed to let you use your phone on a plane—where, in many cases, outgoing wireless communications aren't allowed—that turns off Wi-Fi. 

The easiest way to check to see if Airplane Mode is on is to open Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. If the airplane icon at the left is active, tap it to turn Airplane Mode off and your problem should be solved. If it's not active, something else is going on and you should move on to the next step.

Option 2: Update iOS

This problem is the result of a bug in iOS 7, and Apple doesn't usually let bugs that affect a lot of users stick around for too long.

Because of that, there's a good chance that a newer version of the iOS has fixed the problem and that upgrading to it will get your Wi-Fi back. 

As of this writing, there have been seven updates to iOS 7 released since the original. Each of these small updates adds features and fixes bugs. Before you try anything else suggested later in this article, make sure you're running the latest version of the iOS.

To do that you can either by:

When the update is complete and your iPhone has restarted, check to see if Wi-Fi is now working. If it's still grayed out, move on to the next step.

Option 3: Reset Network Settings

If an OS upgrade didn't help, the problem may not be with your operating system; it may reside with your settings. Each iPhone stores a series of settings related to accessing Wi-Fi and cellular networks that help it get online. Sometimes, though, those settings can cause problems that interfere with connectivity.

It's very important to know that resetting your network settings means you'll lose whatever is stored in your current settings. This can include Wi-Fi passwords, Bluetooth connections, VPN settings, and more. That's not ideal, but if that's what you need to do to get Wi-Fi working again, so be it.

To reset your network settings, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app
  2. Tap General
  3. Swipe to the bottom of the screen and tap Reset
  4. Tap Reset Network Settings (if you have a passcode on your phone, you'll need to enter it before you can reset)
  5. If a warning pops up asking you to confirm this is what you want to do, tap the option to proceed.

    When this is done, I recommend restarting your phone. It's not required, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

    Option 4: Reset All Settings

    If resetting your network settings didn't help, it's time to take a more drastic step: resetting all of your phone's settings. You don't want to take this step lightly since it will remove every setting, preference, password, and connection you've added to your phone since you started using it. It will not, however, delete any apps, music, photos, etc., so you don't have to worry about that (though I always recommend making a backup of your phone's data before doing anything this sweeping).

     

    It's not super fun to have to recreate all of those settings, but it may be required. To reset all of your phone's settings, do this:

    1. Tap the Settings app
    2. Tap General
    3. Swipe to the bottom and tap Reset
    4. Tap Reset All Settings
    5. In the warning pops up, confirm that you want to proceed.

    Option 5: Restore to Factory Settings

    If even that doesn't work, it's time for the nuclear option: restoring to factory settings. This is the process by which you delete everything on your iPhone and return it to the state it was in when you first took it out of the box. It's definitely a last resort, but sometimes starting from scratch is what you need to do to solve a serious problem.

    To restore your phone to factory settings, follow these steps:

    1. Sync your phone to iTunes or iCloud (whichever you use for syncing normally) to make sure you have a backup of all of the content of your phone. This is especially important if you have things on your phone that aren't on your computer/iCloud. Syncing will get them there so that later in this process, you can restore them to your phone.
    2. Tap Settings
    3. Tap General
    4. Swipe to the bottom and tap Reset
    5. Tap Erase All Content and Settings
    6. In the warning pop-up, tap Erase Phone
    7. Your phone will take a minute or two to erase all data
    8. Set up your phone again
    9. Check to see if Wi-Fi is working. If it is, your problem is solved and you can sync all of your content to your phone once again. If it's not working, move on to the next step.

    Option 6: Get Tech Support

    If all of these attempts haven't solved the problem, there's a chance that your issues don't have anything to do with software. Instead, there might be something wrong with the Wi-Fi hardware in your phone. The best way to determine if that's the case and get it fixed is to to make an appointment with the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store and have them check out your phone.

    Another Idea, But Not Recommended: Do Something Crazy

    If you read some other articles online about solving this problem, you'll see one other recommendation: putting your iPhone in a freezer. Some people report this solving the problem, but I don't recommend it. Extremely cold temperatures can damage your iPhone and putting it in a freezer can void its warranty.

    Try this option if you're a risk taker, but I strongly recommend against it unless you're willing to ruin your iPhone in the process of trying to fix it.