How To Use iPhone | Connecting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth And Other Airwaves

The iPhone can handle various kinds of wireless signal; GSM, for phone calls; GPRS, EDGE and 3G for mobile Internet access; Wi-Fi for Internet access in homes, offices and public hotspots; and Bluetooth for connecting to compatible headsets and earphone systems.

This chapter takes a quick look at each of them.


Airplane mode

iPhone Airplane ModeAirplane mode, quickly accessible at the top of the Settings menu, lets you temporarily disable GSM, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, enabling you to use non-wireless features such as the Music app during a flight or in any other circumstances where mobile phone use is not permitted. (Whether phones actually cause any risk on aircraft is disputed, but that’s another story.) Airplane mode can also be useful if you want to make sure that you don’t incur roaming charges when overseas by inadvertently checking your mail and so on.

Using Wi-Fi

Connectin to networks

iPhone WiFi NetworksTo manually connect to a Wi-Fi network, tap Settings > Wi-Fi and choose a net‑work from the list. If its a secure wireless network (as indicated by the icon), the iPhone will invite you to enter the relevant password.

Though this procedure doesn’t take long, it’s best to have the iPhone point you in the direction of Wi-Fi networks automatically. This way, whenever you open an Internet-based tool such as

Maps or Mail, and there are no known networks in range, the iPhone will automatically present you with a list of all the networks it can find. You can turn this feature on and off via Settings > Wi-Fi > Ask to Join Networks.

If the network you want to connect to isn’t in the list, you could be out of range, or it could be that it’s a ‘chidden” network, in which case tap Wi-Fi > Other and enter its name, password and password type.

TIP If you want to maximize battery life, get into the habit of turning Wi-Fi off when you’re not using it. it only takes a couple of seconds to turn it back on when you need it again.

Forgetting networks

Once you’ve connected to a Wi-Fi network, your iPhone will remember it as a trusted network and connect to it automatically whenever you’re in range. This is useful, though can be annoying – if, for example, it keeps connecting to a network you once chose accidentally, or one which lets you connect but doesn’t provide web access. In these cases, click on the icon next to the relevant network name and tap Forget This Network. This won’t stop you connecting to it manually in the future.

When it won’t connect…

If your iPhone refuses to connect to a Wi-Fi network, try again, in case you mistyped the password or tapped the wrong network name. If you still have no luck, try the following:

Try WEP Hex If there’s a icon in the password box, tap it, choose WEP Hex and try again.

Check the settings Some networks, especially in offices, require you to manually enter information such as an IP address. Ask your network administrator for the details and plug them in by clicking next to the relevant network name.

Add your MAC address Some routers in homes and offices (but not in public hotspots) will only allow access to devices specified in the router’s “access list”. If this is the case, you’ll need to enter the phone’s MAC address – which you’ll find within Settings > General > About > Wi-Fi Address – to your router’s list. This usually means entering the router’s setup screen and looking for something titled MAC Filtering or Access List.

Reboot the router If you’re at home, try rebooting your wireless router by turning it off or unplugging it for a few seconds. Turn off the Wi-Fi on the phone (Settings > Wi-Fi) until the router has rebooted.

Tweak your router settings If the above doesn’t work, try temporarily turning off your router’s wireless password to see whether that fixes the problem. If it does, try choosing a different type of password (WEP rather than WPA, for example). If that doesn’t help, you could try updating the firmware (internal software) of the router, in case the current version isn’t compatible with the iPhone’s hardware. Check the manufacturer’s website to see if a firmware update is available.


In your home country, the iPhone should automatically connect to your carrier’s GSM network for voice calls, and to the fastest data network available – either GPRS, EDGE or 3G. All three networks will auto­matically give way to Wi-Fi (which is usually much faster) whenever possible.

TIP If you have an iPhone with 3G and want to maximize battery life, consider turning the 3G connection off within Settings > Network. Once that’s done, your phone will use EDGE instead, which is slower but far less power-hungry.

TIP  Test Your Speed

To test the speed and latency (time lag) of your current EDGE, 3G or Wi-Fi signal, try a free app such as Speedtest, which you can use to keep records of your connection speeds from day to day; alternatively, tap Safari and visit:

iPhone Speed Test testmyiphone.corn

Connecting abroad

When overseas, voice calls should work normally, though North Americans may first need to activate international roaming with their carrier. You’ll probably find that your phone selects foreign carriers automatically. If you prefer, however, it’s possible to specify a preference. Simply tap Settings > Carrier and pick from the list. For more on mak­ing calls abroad.

As for the Internet, Wi-Fi should work wherever you are in the world – for free, if you can find a non-charging hotspot. For mobile Internet, GPRS, EDGE or 3G will work if there’s a compatible network and you’ve turned on Data Roaming within Settings > General > Network. But be prepared for some extremely steep usage charges


Bluetooth allows computers, phones, printers and other devices to communicate at high speeds over short distances. The iPhone uses Bluetooth to share an Internet connection with a computer or iPad (see overleaf) or to connect to headsets and certain carphone systems. You can also connect an iPhone 4S to a full-size Bluetooth keyboard – useful if you’ve got a lot of typing to do.

You can turn Bluetooth on and off by tapping Settings > General > Bluetooth. If you’re not using it, leave it switched off to help maximize battery life.

Personal Hotspot “tethering”

Although not everyone realizes it, it’s possible to use an iPhone 3G or any later model to provide wireless Internet access to one or more other devices, such as laptops and iPads. This can be enormously useful when you’re out and about with a laptop or iPad and unable to connect online except via your phone. Here’s how it works: the iPhone gets online in the normal way via 3G or EDGE and then share that internet connection with the laptops or iPads either via Wi-Fi (up to five devices), Bluetooth (up to three devices) or USB (one device). The only downside is that some mobile phone networks don’t support “tethering” – as this function is traditionally known – and others charge extra for it.

If your carrier and tariff do support tethering, you can turn it on within Settings > General > Network > Personal Hotspot. Here you can also choose a password for the Wi-Fi network that will automatically be established by your phone. Once that’s all done, check your computer and you should see a Wi-Fi network with your iPhone’s name. Select this, enter the password you chose and you should now be online.

Alternatively, connect the computer and phone with a USB cable or pair them using Bluetooth.

Connecting to office networks

Exchange – for calendars, contacts, etc

Most offices run their email, contacts and calendars via a system known as Microsoft Exchange Server. Individual workers access these tools using Outlook, and a web address is usually made available to allow remote log in from home or elsewhere. If necessary, it’s usually possible to access your work account via the web on the iPhone – just press Safari and go to the regular remote-access web address. However, it’s much neater to point your phone at the Microsoft Exchange Servers directly.

VPN access

A VPN, or virtual private network, allows a private office network to be made available over the Internet. If your office network uses a VPN to allow access to an Intranet, file servers or whatever, you’ll probably find that your iPhone can connect to it. The phone supports most VPN systems (specifically, those which use L2TP or PPTP protocols), so ask your administrator for details and enter them under Settings > General > Network > VPN.

TIP Remote Access

As well as connecting via a VPN, it’s also possible for the iPhone to connect directly to a computer that’s on the Internet – a Mac or PC in your home or office, say. Once set up, you could, for example, browse your files or stream music and video from your iTunes collection. All you need is the right app and the correct security settings set up on the computer in question.

Some of the various apps available for this purpose include NetPortal (pictured), LogMeln Ignition and TeamViewer. However, Mac owners with an Apple AirPort router should look no further than Back to My Mac, which is included as part of iCloud.

See also:

Originally posted 2012-08-23 00:00:39.


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