Unlock APN Settings (iOS and Android): A Detailed Guide

Two phones on a white background

24 min read

Angela Otero

Have you ever struggled with your mobile device not connecting to the internet, even though you’ve got a solid data plan? I have. And let me tell you, it’s frustrating as heck.

The key might lie in your Access Point Name (APN) settings. It is a gateway between cellular networks and the internet. Essential for web browsing, MMS, and overall device performance, correct APN settings ensure optimal connectivity. However, carrier switches, software updates, or using unlocked phones may require APN tweaks. Unlocking these settings can resolve many network issues.

Let’s go into detail below.

Why Might You Need to Unlock Your APN Settings?

There are moments when these settings might be inaccessible or grayed out, prompting the need to unlock them. Here’s why you might need to do so:

General Reasons:

  • Carrier Switch: If you’ve shifted from one mobile service provider to another, you might find that your data isn’t working as it should. This could be due to the device clinging to the old carrier’s APN settings.
  • Using an Unlocked Phone: Purchasing a device previously tied to a particular network or unlocking a network-locked phone might require APN adjustments to ensure compatibility with your current carrier.
  • Connectivity Issues: If you’re experiencing problems accessing the internet, sending multimedia messages (MMS), or facing intermittent network drops, it might be an APN issue.
  • Trying MVNOs: Mobile Virtual Network Operators rent space from larger networks and often require manual APN settings input to grant internet access.

For iPhone:

  • Software Update: A recent iOS update might sometimes change or reset APN settings, necessitating a revisit.
  • Restored Devices: If you’ve restored your iPhone from a backup, it might carry over APN settings from the previous device that may not be compatible.

For Android:

  • Firmware Updates: Certain Android updates might reset or alter APN settings, especially if they’re geared toward system optimization.
  • Multiple User Profiles: Some Android devices allow multiple user profiles, and switching between them might affect APN access.

A person is holding an iphone and a samsung phone
Video | Simple Alpaca

Methods to Unlock APN Settings on Different Devices

Navigating the complexities of modern mobile devices can sometimes leave users puzzled, especially when faced with terms like “APN settings.” While the phrase might sound technical and intimidating, understanding its essence can dramatically enhance your device’s performance.

Let’s delve into the different methods to unlock APN on our devices:

For iPhones:

Method 1: Restart Your Device

One of the simplest yet effective ways to troubleshoot your iPhone is by performing a basic restart. This allows the system to recalibrate and iron out minor glitches.

An iphone XR is being held up by a person
Video | WorldofTech

Step 1: Press and hold the side or top button until the power off slider appears.

A person is holding up an iPhone with SOS message showing
Video | WorldofTech

Step 2: Drag the slider, then wait a few moments for the device to turn off.

A person's hand is holding an iPhone while pressing the turn off button
Video | WorldofTech

Step 3: Press the side or top button again until the Apple logo appears.

Method 2: Reset Network Settings

Resetting network settings can solve many connectivity issues by restoring all network-related functionalities to factory defaults.

A person is holding an iPhone X in their hand
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 1: Open the ‘Settings’ app.

A person holding the phone showing the setting options
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 2: Go to ‘General’

A person is holding a phone showing the General setting options
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 3: Click on ‘Transfer or Reset iPhone.’

A person is holding a phone showing the Reset or Transfer set-up
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 4: Tap on ‘Reset’

A person holding an iPhone displaying the'restore from backup' option
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 5: Tap on ‘Reset Network Settings’. You might need to enter your passcode.

A person is holding an iPhone showing the reset message option
Video | LoFi Alpaca

Step 6: Confirm when prompted. The device will restart.

Method 3: Upgrade iOS

Keeping your iOS up to date ensures you benefit from Apple’s latest enhancements and fixes, which can resolve underlying software issues.

An iPhone is sitting on top of a table
Video | ARYAN Phones

Step 1: Connect your device to Wi-Fi.

A person is pointing at the screen of an iPhone
Video | ARYAN Phones

Step 2: Go to ‘Settings’

A person is pointing at the screen time on an iphone
Video | ARYAN Phones

Step 3: Click on ‘General’

A person is holding up an iPhone with the settings displayed
Video | ARYAN Phones

Step 4: Choose ‘Software Update’.

A person showing an iOS software update setting
Video | ARYAN Phones

Step 5: Tap ‘Download and Install.’

Method 4: Carrier Update

Mobile carriers periodically release updates to optimize connectivity, improve performance, and resolve network-specific bugs. Checking for these updates can often alleviate common network concerns.

A person holding an iPhone in front of a keyboard
Video | iAppleTech

Step 1: Make sure your device is connected to Wi-Fi.

A person holding an iPhone in front of a laptop
Video | iAppleTech

Step 2: Go to ‘Settings’

A person is tapping the General option of an iPhone setting
Video | iAppleTech

Step 3: Choose ‘General’

A person showing the General list of iPhone setting
Video | iAppleTech

Step 4: Tap on ‘About.’

A person is holding up an iPhone with a screen showing an update
Video | Tech Ex

Step 5: You’ll receive a notification if an update is available.

Method 5: Jailbreaking

For those seeking greater control and customization over their iOS device, jailbreaking provides an avenue to unlock advanced features, but it comes with challenges and risks.

A person is holding up an iPhone with a lot of app's icons on it
Video | JacobDrozh

Step 1: Research trusted jailbreaking methods specific to your device model and iOS version.

A person holding an iPhone in front of a laptop
Video | Fix369

Step 2: Back up your device using iTunes.

MacOS showing the iTunes back up window
Video | lapfix

  • Update iTunes: Ensure you have the latest version of iTunes installed.

A person holding an iPhone and a charger cord with a MacBook opened at the background
Video | Fix369

  • Connect Your iOS Device: Use a USB cable to connect your device to your computer.

An iTune opened on an iOS device
Video | Fix369

  • Select Your iOS Device in iTunes: Click on the device icon in the top left menu of iTunes.

Backup page setting of a iOS device
Video | Fix369

  • Backup Selection: In the “Backups” section, choose “This Computer.” Encrypt the backup if you want to save Health and Activity data.

Selecting 'Backup Now' on an iOS device
Video | Fix369

  • Start the Backup: Click “Back Up Now.”

A screen shot of the iPhone performing a backup
Video | Fix369

  • Verify the Backup: Navigate to iTunes Preferences > “Devices” to see the date and time of the last backup.

Step 3: Follow the selected jailbreak method’s step-by-step instructions, typically provided on the official jailbreak tool’s website.

For Android Devices:

Method 1: Restart Your Device

Like its iOS counterpart, Android devices can benefit immensely from a quick restart, refreshing its processes and potentially addressing minor software hiccups.

Step 1: Press the power button until the power menu pops up.

Step 2: Tap on ‘Restart’ or ‘Reboot.’ The device will power cycle.

Method 2: Third-party Apps

The flexibility of Android allows users to utilize specialized apps from the Play Store, which can be instrumental in tweaking and accessing hidden settings.

Icon's app on a phone's homescreen
Video | CNET

Step 1: Open the Google Play Store.

A screen shot of the google play store

Step 2: Search for the desired app (e.g., ‘APN Settings’).

Step 3: Install the app, open it, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Method 3: Upgrade Your OS

Operating System updates can bring new features, optimizations, and bug fixes. Conversely, reverting to a previous version might be the solution if a new update seems to cause more problems than it solves.

A person holding a phone and tapping the Setting icon at homescreen
Video | WorldofTech

Step 1: Connect to Wi-Fi.

A person holding a phone and tapping on the 'Software Update' option
Video | WorldofTech

Step 2: Go to ‘Settings’ > About phone

A person holding a phone and showing the Software Update message
Video | WorldofTech

Step 3: Choose ‘Software update.’

A person tapping on the 'Download & Install' option for a phone's software update
Video | WorldofTech

Step 4: Tap ‘Download and Install’ if an update is available.

Method 4: Developer Options

Operating System updates can bring new features, optimizations, and bug fixes. Conversely, reverting to a previous version might be the solution if a new update seems to cause more problems than it solves.

Step 1: Go to ‘Settings’

Step 2: ‘About phone.’

Step 3: Find ‘Build number’ and tap on it multiple times quickly until you see a prompt that says, “Developer mode has been turned on.”

Step 4: Go back to the main ‘Settings’ menu, and you should see a new option called ‘Developer options.’ Here, you can adjust various system settings.

Method 5: Rooting

Rooting is to Android what jailbreaking is to iOS. It grants users root access to the system, offering unparalleled control and customization, but not without its fair share of risks.

Step 1: Research a trusted rooting method for your device model and Android version.

A screenshot of the backup and restore settings on an android phone
Video | PCWorld

Step 2: Back up your data.

  • Go to “Settings”

  • Then click on “Accounts and back up.”

  • Choose “Backup.” Ensure the backup service is on and select “Back up now.”

A screen shot of the google play store

Step 3: Install required tools, such as ADB, Fastboot, and specific rooting software.

Step 4: Follow the selected rooting method’s step-by-step instructions. This often involves connecting the device to a PC, booting into a specific mode, and running the rooting tool.

Here’s the comprehensive comparison table detailing key aspects of both operating systems.

Comparison Table:

Restart DeviceRooting – Offers root access for customization and system tweaks; also voids warranty.Easily accessible through the power button.
Reset Network SettingsEasily accessible through the power button.Easily accessible through the power button.
System UpdateFound in ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘Software Update’.Found in ‘Settings’ > ‘About phone’ > ‘Software update.’
Carrier UpdateFound in ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘About.’Often pushed automatically or through carrier apps.
System ModificationRooting – Offers root access for customization and system tweaks; also voids warranty.Connectivity issues, potential security vulnerabilities, warranty concerns.
Third-Party Apps for APNLimited availability due to system restrictions.Available in Play Store; check for trusted developers.
Developer OptionsNot present as in Android.Connectivity issues, potential security vulnerabilities; warranty concerns.
Risks with APN ChangesConnectivity issues, potential security vulnerabilities, warranty concerns.Same as iOS, plus some device-specific risks.

Risks and Precautions

Modifying your APN settings requires caution. Mistakes can lead to connectivity issues or even security vulnerabilities. Here are some key risks:

  • Incorrect adjustments can hinder internet or MMS functions.
  • Unauthorized alterations may void your device’s warranty.
  • You might open your device to potential security threats.

Safe practices include:

  • Researching before making any changes.
  • Relying on credible sources for APN data.
  • Backing up existing settings for easy restoration.

Troubleshooting Section

When adjusting your APN settings, you may encounter various issues or difficulties. Here’s a quick troubleshooting guide to common problems:

  • APN Settings Grayed Out: If you cannot access or modify your APN settings, it might be because your carrier has locked them. Contact your service provider for assistance.
  • Can’t Connect After APN Adjustment: Double-check for any typos or incorrect values if you adjusted your APN settings and still can’t connect. If uncertain, restore the settings to their original values or contact your carrier.
  • MMS Not Sending/Receiving: This can be due to incorrect MMS gateway settings in your APN configuration. Ensure they match the ones provided by your carrier.
  • Data Speeds Slow After APN Changes: Ensure you’ve selected the correct data type (e.g., LTE, 4G, 3G) for your device and network capabilities. Adjusting these values improperly can slow down your connection.
  • Settings Don’t Save: Some devices might not save your changes due to software glitches. Consider restarting your phone or trying a different method to access the settings.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What does APN stand for?
    • APN stands for Access Point Name. It’s the information your device uses to connect to the internet using a cellular network.
  • Why is my device not connecting to the internet despite having data?
    • Your device’s APN settings may be outdated or incorrect. Adjusting these settings can often resolve connectivity issues.
  • Do I need to adjust APN settings every time I switch carriers?
    • Not necessarily, but it’s recommended. Different carriers may have unique APN settings, so updating them ensures optimal connectivity.
  • Can I mess up my phone by changing the APN settings?
    • Incorrect APN settings can lead to connectivity issues, but they won’t physically damage your device. Always back up current settings so you can restore them if necessary.
  • Will changing my APN settings use more data?
    • No, adjusting APN settings doesn’t increase data usage. However, the right settings can help optimize data usage, ensuring apps use only what’s necessary.
  • Is it possible to boost my phone’s battery life with the right APN settings?
    • Yes! Correct APN settings can minimize the power drain caused by your device repeatedly attempting to establish a connection.
  • I can send texts but not multimedia messages. Why?
    • This issue might be due to incorrect APN settings associated with MMS. Adjusting these can resolve the problem.
  • Are there any security risks in adjusting APN settings?
    • You risk exposing your device to security threats if done incorrectly or sourced from unreliable places. Always rely on credible sources for APN data.
  • Can I use a third-party app to adjust APN settings on my Android device?
    • Yes, there are reputable apps on the Play Store that can help configure or modify APN details. However, ensure the app is from a trusted developer.
  • My carrier sent a settings update for my iOS device. Should I accept it?
    • Yes, carriers occasionally send updates to auto-configure APN settings. Accepting these updates ensures your device is optimized for their network.


Website Resources:

Video References:

World of Tech

LoFi Alpaca

ARYAN Phones


Tech Ex

Jacob Drozh






World of Tech

Lucky Tech Life

PC World


Simple Alpaca

Your Six Studios

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