iPhone Personal Hotspot Not Working (Fixed)

Are you trying to use your Personal Hotspot on your iPhone and unable to start it? If your iPhone Personal Hotspot is not working correctly, there can be a number of potential causes to consider. Continue reading this article to learn how to fix your personal hotspot not working issue.

What is a Personal Hotspot? How does it work?

First, let’s look at the difference between hotspots and mobile hotspots. Then we’ll move on to how they work so that you can begin troubleshooting your iPhone hotspot not working issue.

You probably use WiFi hotspots every day without thinking about it. When you visit a store, like Walmart or Starbucks, and access their public guest WiFi on your phone or another device, you use a hotspot. Your WiFi connection at home or a friend’s house is also a hotspot. You are likely to encounter public hotspots in libraries, campuses, airports, hotels, hospitals, and other areas where people congregate. 

Mobile hotspots provide access to the internet through a WiFi connection, but these are different because they are mobile. Typically, mobile hotspots are created using the cellular data connection of your smartphone. They allow you to connect your laptop or tablet to a WiFi connection if you need to get work or something else done on the go. As long as your smartphone has access to data towers, your other devices can be tethered and connected to your mobile hotspot.

Apple calls the mobile hotspots created using an iPhone a Personal Hotspot.

iPhone Personal Hotspot and cellular data

Your ability to use a Personal Hotspot depends on your available data. Personal Hotspot itself is a free utility included with your iPhone but requires cellular data usage. If you have an Unlimited data plan with your cell phone service provider, then you are able to use a Personal Hotspot without any restrictions. If you don’t have an unlimited plan, you may need to purchase additional data or be careful not to max out your data. Speeds will significantly slow when you meet your data limits. 

Why is your iPhone Personal Hotspot not working?

Because the Personal Hotspot on your iPhone depends on your access to cellular data, anything that might impede that access can cause the hotspot not to work. As a quick tip, restarting and updating your device and the utility often solve this problem.

Make sure your cellular network carrier is not experiencing outages, your carrier settings are updated, the plan with your carrier includes mobile hotspot use, and that you have paid your bill. If any of these are wrong, then you will be unable to start Personal Hotspot. You may also need to restart your hotspot, restart your phone, check for iOS updates, and reset your network settings. 

List of common causes of iPhone Personal Hotspot not working include:

  • Personal Hotspot needs to be restarted
  • iPhone needs to be restarted
  • Pending iOS update
  • Incorrect network settings
  • Outdated carrier settings
  • Phone plan does not include hotspot use
  • Late payment to network provider
  • Cellular network issues

How to fix the iPhone Personal Hotspot not working issue

The 8 solutions listed below are organized to lead you through the simplest and most effective fixes first. Many users from the dedicated Apple and iPhone community have reported great success in restoring their Personal Hotspot to their iPhone by using these solutions. 

Note: If you are still using iOS 12 or earlier, the solutions provided in this article still apply, but you may have to perform the steps slightly differently due to changes in the user interface.

1. Restart Personal Hotspot

Occasionally, your Personal Hotspot needs to be turned off and back on for it to start properly:

  1. From one of your home screens (unless you removed the application from your home screens), select Settings
Launch Settings from Homescreen
  1. Personal Hotspot is in the first section of the Settings page. Select it or enter “Personal Hotspot” into the Search bar located at the top if you can’t find it. 
Select “Personal Hotspot”
  1. If your Personal Hotspot is already on, move the slider to off/white and then turn it on again by moving back to on/green.
Restart Personal Hotspot that's not working
  1. Attempt to connect to the Personal Hotspot using one of the methods listed on the Personal Hotspot page. 

2. Restart iPhone

The first solution often solves the problem, but if not, turning your device off and on again may be all that is needed to be able to start your Personal Hotspot. Instructions on restarting your iPhone are included from iPhone X down to iPhone 6.  

Restart iPhone X, 11, 12, or 13

  1. Press and hold one of the volume buttons and the side button
  2. When the power off slider appears, drag the slider to the off position. Your device will turn off in roughly 30 seconds. 
Drag power off slider to off position
  1. Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears to turn your phone back on.

Restart iPhone SE (2nd Gen), 8, 7, or 6

  1. Press and hold the side button.
  2. When the power off slider appears, drag the slider to the off position. Your device will turn off in roughly 30 seconds. 
  3. Press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears to turn your phone back on.

After your iPhone has successfully restarted, check to see if you can start iPhone Personal Hotspot now.

3. Update your iPhone

Usually, your iPhone will update when you restart your device, assuming there was enough battery power to complete the update. However, you should still check to make sure that your iOS is completely updated, and if not, download and install any outstanding updates. Missing updates can be the cause of why you are unable to start Personal Hotspot.

  1. Select Settings from one of your homepages.
  2. Scroll down and select General.
Select General Settings
  1. Tap Software Update. Look to see if you have Automatic Updates On or Off. Decide if you want to automatically receive updates so that these kinds of issues don’t reoccur. The choice is ultimately yours. 
Apply pending updates to fix personal hotspot not working issues
  1. If an update is available, plug your phone into a charge and select Download and Install. The update may already be downloaded. In that case, you will see Install Now
  2. Enter your passcode when prompted, and the update will be installed. Your device will restart; this is normal. 
  3. Once the update is complete, try to start your Personal Hotspot. If the problem is not resolved, then continue to the next solution. 

4. Reset network settings

Sometimes your iPhone’s network settings may be corrupted or need resetting. If you are experiencing issues with your Personal Hotspot, this is a great opportunity. Your network settings tell your iPhone how to connect to networks like cellular, Bluetooth, and WiFi. 

To reset your network settings:

  1. Select Settings from one of your homepages.
  2. Scroll down and select General.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select the Reset option. Don’t worry; this will open up another page. Nothing irreversible will happen to your phone here.
General Settings Reset ooption
  1. You may be prompted to enter your passcode before proceeding. Select Reset Network Settings.
Resetting Network Settings can fix a personal hotspot not working
  1. Your iPhone will completely reset all network settings, and your phone will restart. You will need to rejoin any WiFi connections you are using (including re-entering passwords) and connect to any Bluetooth devices. At the same time, your iPhone should automatically reconnect to your cellular network. 
  2. Now check to see if your Personal Hotspot not working problem is resolved. 

5. Update carrier settings 

Each cellular carrier, Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will have specific carrier settings that allow your iPhone to connect to your cellular carrier’s network. These settings are typically applied when you insert your SIM card, but sometimes there are minor updates. Carrier settings are purposefully hidden from users so that nothing can be changed. To double-check that your device has no outstanding updates:  

  1. Select Settings from one of your homepages.
  2. Scroll down and select General.
General Settings
  1. Tap on About
General Settings About section
  1. Within the About page, there will be a notification waiting if there is an outstanding carrier update. If not, you will just see general information about your phone’s name, model, and more. 
  2. If an update is available, apply the update by tapping Update. Then you can try to start your iPhone Personal Hotspot again. 

6. Check your phone plan

Most modern phone plans allow the use of mobile hotspots. If you have an Unlimited plan with your provider, you are almost guaranteed access to mobile hotspots. If you do not have an unlimited plan, use a smaller provider or a prepaid or low data plan, then you may not have access to mobile hotspots. You need to log into your cellular network provider’s application either on your iPhone or on a computer and check your phone plan. If you cannot find this information readily available, you may need to contact your provider’s customer support line.

7. Check your payments

Cellular service providers will prevent your device from using their network if your bill is not up-to-date. Usually, a grace period is provided after the initial due date, but there is another date upon which your service is subject to disconnection. Maybe you’ve been strapped recently or just forgot to pay your bill. You should log into your account and ensure you don’t have any outstanding bills. Once your service provider receives payment, your service can be restored almost instantly, or it may take a few hours.

8. Check for cellular network issues

If you have tried all the solutions listed above and are still having issues with your Personal Hotspot, there may be a larger issue with your cellular network. If this is the case, you will probably have issues sending or receiving calls or texts and need to be connected to a WiFi network to access the internet. To check if your service provider is experiencing outages in your area, you can contact your service provider or check one of the links provided below:

  1. AT&T and DIRECTV Service Outages
  2. Verizon – automatically flags your account if your area is experiencing an outage. Sign in to see the ticket and expected resolution time. 
  3. T-Mobile – doesn’t have a dedicated site, but Downdetector can be helpful.

Resolved: iPhone Personal Hotspot now working

Having access to such a useful feature on your iPhone, Personal Hotspot, is a must. You may want to use your Personal Hotspot to complete work on the go, watch movies, or play games while on long-distance car rides, while flying, or in other public places away from your home network. The solutions to this problem are pretty straightforward and can be completed within a few minutes, but you may need to contact your cellular service provider if the first five solutions don’t fix the problem.

Make sure to check out our related article in case your iPhone is not connecting to WiFi either.

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