How to Fix an “Unable to Join the Network” Error in iOS

Mar 1, 2014 - 21 Comments

Considering that so much of the functionality of iOS is dependent on the internet, it’s pretty frustrating if you can’t join a wireless network because of a mystery “Unable to join the network [name]” error popping up on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. You may encounter this alert trying to join a wifi network as usual, or by trying to manually join a network:

Unable to join the network in iOS

With such a nondescript error message, it’s hard to know exactly what the problem with the wi-fi is, but for most cases you can resolve the issue fairly quickly with the multistep process described below:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
  2. Enter the devices passcode and confirm the reset
  3. Let the iPhone/iPad restart, you’ll see a spinning cursor on the device as it finishes the reset before the device boots back on
  4. Go back to Settings > Wi-Fi and join the network again

How to Reset Network Settings in iOS on the iPhone

Resetting Network Settings removes saved passwords and configuration details, and the device automatically restarts itself to (presumably) dump any residual cache or preferences . Yes, you’ll have to re-enter passwords and specific network information again.

At this point the iPhone / iPad should connect to the network fine as usual. If you’re still having trouble after taking the aforementioned steps, go forget the Wi-Fi network via the iOS Settings and then manually join it again. Manually joining networks is done by choosing “Other” from the Wi-Fi menu and entering the exact router name, network encryption type, and router password.

From personal experience, the “unable to join network” error seems to occur when connecting to certain Wireless N routers more often than anything else, so if you have a dual band router you may just opt for the other network and skip the troubled signal. Sometimes restarting the router can help too, but since not all users have control over that, it’s generally best to offer an iOS client specific resolution.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

21 Comments

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  1. Chamakay says:

    I get the “can’t join network” thing randomly on a wireless G network from Netgear, as well as randomly dropping connections, but I have never had a problem with Linksys. This has been the case with all versions of iOS too and just about every iPhone or ipad that has been around. It makes me think that perhaps Apple’s drivers have issues with select routers only? Or is it related to the router encryption?

    Anyway, toggling AirPlane mode can work sometimes too.

  2. Max says:

    Have tried resetting the network settings often. Works sometimes, too often not. I get poor wifi at home, spotty. Could be my old 2009 Macbook that runs Mavericks, but it seems to be software.

    The equipment is fine, but right now my iPad Mini is spinning circles after I reset the network settings and logged back in. Meanwhile, my iPod Touch 5g is running Wifi fine. Often, it’s the opposite. I watched season 2 of House of Cards last night on the iPad Mini.

    Sometimes, you have to “Forget This Network” to start clean Sometimes, you have to restart the Mac. It just doesn’t stop with this, and Apple is clearly responsible. They neglected fixing all the connectivity problems.

    Apple’s Wifi reminds me of Windows 98 back in 2000 on my Compaq, and how I had to consult an 800-page book regularly to use Windows and use the Internet. All the little problems that had to be fixed all the time.

    Bet this sells a lot of Airports, though.

  3. Beth says:

    Our problem was fixed when we update the soft ware for the router which was grossly out of date.

  4. Rita says:

    This worked for me – my error came when trying to connect to my Samsung S3 as a mobile hotspot.

    Thanks!

  5. Frank says:

    Thanks! Worked a treat.

  6. Teresa says:

    Tada! It worked! Thank you for limiting my frustration level.

  7. Me says:

    Nope doesn’t work… Sigh. My iPhone 4 always joined my home network without difficulty until today… It recognizes it but is “unable to join network”. Don’t know what to do now.

  8. Coolade says:

    I’ve had this problem for months on iPhone 5 and iPad 2. I have a dual band router and can connect to the 5ghz network but not 2.4ghz. Started out of the blue, not when I updated iOS software. And cannot connect to most other networks out of my home. I can connect if I’m standing next to router but drops when about five feet away. Phone sees the network, just cannot join. Very frustrated. And what’s nuts is that my wife has no connectivity issues at all with her iPhone 5 and iPad mini at home or elsewhere. I’ve posted to Apple’s support community and there are many many others with same problem.

  9. Turnkey26 says:

    I had exactly the same problem. I used every suggestion on the forums.
    Here is what worked for me. I borrowed a windows laptop (also used an android phone)
    and logged into the wireless right away. Then I when to the iPad and iPhone and was able to
    instantly login. Three days I tried everything. I reset the router, reset the phone, reset the network
    on the phone, turned airplane mode on and off. Nothing worked, so I got out my trusty windows laptop
    and it connected right away. I went to the iPad and tried to connect that and it worked instantly as well
    as the phone.

    • abd el rahman says:

      hi

      i have the same problem and i tried everything , rest the network ,the router

      so can you please tell me wt is the ‘so my trusty windows laptop ‘

      thanks

  10. Ian says:

    Tried this and it did’nt work, but I found a different route to go if your running the latest Airport Extreme and have multiple clients feeding off the Router, such as a MacBook Pro 17”, MacBook Air, and two iPhones, one a 4s and the other a 5s.

    5s and the two Macbook Pro’s connect without a problem but the 4s won’t with the password that the other three are using, and it will only connect to a 2.4 Mhz not the new 5 Mhz.

    Found in the Aiport.app a way of getting it to work. Click on the Airport Extreme, click Edit, and have the Base Station dialogue box come up. Go to the Command bar and Click on Base Station>Show Passwords. Here you should see what Password that your using to connect to the Airport Extreme. Forget about that one and find the “WPA-Pre-Shared Key for your 2.4 and copy it and then send it to your 4s by what ever means you want.

    Once you have it and have copied it on the iPhone selected the Router in the WiFi setting and paste into the password box when prompted. Your connected.

    Thought Apple would have got around this limitation with the latest Airport Extreme.

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    If you have tried everything and still aren’t having any luck, look for a QoS setup setting named “Enable WMM (Wi-Fi multimedia) settings” or something similar in your router setup and turn it off. This advanced feature was preventing some of my slightly older devices from connecting that did not support the feature.

  12. hugo says:

    It worked for me trying to connect to galaxy S5 as hot spot. Even though it took a while and had to reset network twice. Also in GS5 I had go to tethering, allow all divides and in configuration had to fix security and password. Thanks for helping.

  13. Bee says:

    It worked perfect for me!

  14. Sri says:

    This help is really useful. Thanks man.

  15. jayde says:

    ive had this problem for 6 months and i had no idea how to fix this. I have iphone4 ipod4 and ipad2, my phone had no problem but i couldnt use my ipod and ipad for so long cuz i kept getting the same msg, “unable to join the network’.

    This was the most helpful answer – solved my problem and both of my ipad and ipod is working now:)

    Thank you!

  16. Joure says:

    Hi,
    My iPhone 4s is doing the same thing. And I do not use wifi. This is straight mobile network internet. I have reset settings, etc, and it still doesn’t work really. I can connect to any site except FB and Twitter. Just with those 2 it says “could not connect to the site” via Opera or Safari. The app says the request timed out due to no internet, which isn’t true as I have internet. Please help. This is my only online device.
    Thanks

  17. nyk says:

    thanks! solved my problem by following your post. Lifesaver.

  18. Susan says:

    Thanks so much for posting this solution! Worked for my iPhone 5s and iPad.

  19. kinwa says:

    simple and easy
    i had a same problem the last couple days
    i went to online check all the topics
    someone said reset internet setting on the iphone
    someone said reset and reboot the router and modern
    and i did all of them i could’t help with me at all
    finally i sit down and think let try to change my wifi name
    and it worked for me

  20. Carl says:

    I have a issue, a huge 1, i Can connect to the wifi only on my apple airport router ONLY With 1 OUT of 4 pc’s – both ipads Can connect – the iphone 5 Can. BUT 0 OUT OF 4 IPHONE 4 CAN CONNECT! I Guess this is some with the router on a later version so it cant connect to iphone 4 or something Its really weird! If anybody Can help i Will be so HAPPY! I had this issue for 6 Months!

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