New iPad Requires Reboot To Connect To 3G Networks


The new iPad drops its data connection after it connects to Wi-Fi
The new iPad drops its data connection after it connects to Wi-Fi

[UPDATE: See the end of the post for a possible solution, which works for some people.]

Many iPad 3 users are experiencing a bug which kills their 3G connection every time they connect to a Wi-Fi network. The cellular connection looks normal, with the carrier name, the 3G logo and reception bars, but when you try to do anything that requires a connection, it either times out or throws the error messages “Could not activate cellular data network.”

I am having the exact same problem, and here’s what’s happening.

This annoying bug can be fixed (in my case) by rebooting the iPad. Some others have reported that entering Airplane mode one or more times may fix it temporarily, and so may deactivating and then reactivating the cellular radio. Only the reboot works for me, but when I join a Wi-Fi network, the cellular connection goes haywire once again.

I have also reset the network setting on the iPad 3, and it hasn’t helped.

One possibility is that the new LTE chipset is dickering with the older 3G SIMs, but Mac Rumors forum member “tom.” says that he and two of his friends all have new SIMs for their new iPads and they all have the same problem.

The issue is also showing up on multiple carriers. I am using Vodafone in Spain, and other report that Orange and O2 in the UK are also having problems, as well as users in Switzerland and other countries. In the US, Verizon users say that switching off LTE solves the problem. As we have almost no LTE in Europe, and therefore can’t switch it off, this could be the root of the trouble.

So far it seems that the problem is somewhere in the combination of iOS 5.1 and the new iPad, which means a fix is down to Apple. I wish I had a workaround for you, but the least we can do is put the pressure and get this fixed. After all, if we have to reboot the iPad every time we leave the house or office, we might as well just use something as awkward as a MiFi.

Update Apr 17 2012: As pointed out by commenter SebaTurri, there is a possible workaround which works for some people: Turn off the SIM PIN. I tried changing my PIN yesterday while writing the post after reading about this trick in a few forums, but it didn’t work. The trick seems to be a reboot partway through. Here’s the procedure I followed, modified from the one provided by SebaTurri:

1. Deactivate SIM PIN (Settings>Cellular Data>SIM PIN
2. Reboot
3. Enjoy your newly non-broken iPad
4. Optional but recommended: Reenable your SIM

That should do it. I rebooted several times and cycled the Wi-Fi on and off, and the 3G seems to keep working so far. In the forums, though, people have had mixed success with the “SIM fix,” although this may be due to the fact that they didn’t reboot after step one. Good luck, and let us know if it works.

  • SrBocanegra

    This also happens on the iPhone 4S….

  • mploetner

    this Problem surfaced here in Germany only a few days after the new iPad came to market. And it seems the carriers can solve it. Vodafone solved it here within 3 days but T-Mobile needed some weeks more. Seems to have fixed it last weekend.

  • vanmacguy

    I’m having very closely related issues too. And have seen the “Could not activate cellular data network” dialog dozens of times.

    Come on Apple, let’s get this fixed.

  • davidgoscinny

    I’ve had that issue the first time I tried to connect to the 3G network, it kept saying “No Service”. It took a reboot for it to connect but can’t say I’ve been having issues switching between WiFi & 3G since then.

    I do turn off the 3G at night when going to sleep though, not sure if that would have an effect on the connectivity issues.

  • jcsantana

    Happening to my iPhone 4s too

  • shadzik

    I’m having the same problem with an iPhone 4s when crossing border. I’m living in Germany, but am often visiting Poland. Everytime I’m in Poland, I need to reboot my iPhone 4s to get 3G roaming data. Then when I’m getting back to Germany I need to reboot again to get 3G data :) Weird.

  • Tiago Relva

    this happened the first time i used mine. i went to the APN settings and reintroduced my carrier’s settings. i dunno if this workaround solved it, but the problem was gone

  • SebaTurri

    here is the solution (from apple forums):

    “It’s probably the same problem as on the 4S. There is an authentication problem between the sim and the chipset. After multiple failed attempts 3G turns off. This is noticed when using WiFi at home and then not being able to receive any iMessages when out and about. Then of course not being able to use Safari confirms the issue.
    The way to fix is to set any PIN on the SIM and then turn the PIN off again, this can be done in Settings. The default PIN on AT&T is 1111 not sure if UK networks supply a default PIN. This resetting of the PIN appears to correct the authentication problem and 3G works continuously afterwards”.

    1. Go to settings, mobile data, sim pin
    2. Turn off and then turn on using default pin for your carrier
    3. Change pin to one of your choice, that you can remember
    4. Turn it off again

    I think you can just turn your PIN on again if you want to.

  • Mads Teland

    It’s also happen to me in Norway ;)

  • zioedo

    It happens to me in Italy on TIM

  • geraintj

    Same problem, new ipad, tmobile uk.

  • KateMacVerde

    I switch between Wifi and 3G all the time. I don’t even use LTE because I don’t want to burn through my data in a day. I’ve never had a problem like this.

  • djrich23

    The past couple of days I have also ran into this problem but it’s not with my iPad it’s with my iPhone for 4S I do have to reboot my phone to connect back to 3G services I am on AT&T I am calling them this evening to find out if there’s anything that they can do about this I can make phone calls just can’t search the Internet

  • Scott Townsend

    If you use the SIM from a previous iPad in an iPad 3 LTE model, you won’t get LTE service, but everything else works fine, including 3G.

    When I bought my iPad 3, I removed its factory SIM and installed the SIM from my iPad 2. It worked just fine, but for several days I wondered why I never saw those glorious LTE letters in the upper left corner. Alas, a call to ATT tech support informed me that I had to use the SIM that came with the iPad 3. And, thankfully, my unlimited data plan was transferred over to the new SIM in the iPad 3.

  • Rob Klaproth

    Bought me an iPad 2 for $100 less then the iPad 3… So glad I did, so many problems with the iPad 3…. And plus I enjoy the thinner lighter form factor of the iPad 2. The 3 is a huge miss for Apple in my book.

  • MMOJumper

    This sounds almost exactly like the problem I’ve had with my Verizon 4G MiFi for almost a year now. Anytime it switches from 4G to 3G I have to restart the device. Since I use it to connect my iPad and iPhone so I can use Talkatone for calls, it’s a bit problematic. I was really hoping the new iPad didn’t have this problem so I could ditch the MiFi.

  • xMoonDevilx

    This sounds EXACTLY like the problem I never have…with my WiFi only version. And never have a problem connecting to a hotspot either; be it mine, another’s, 5 feet away, 20 feet away….

  • Michael Payton

    when I go in to the settings, the SIM is already turned off. I’ve rebooted twice. Nothing. I’ve had this thing since Thursday and have had to do a total restore TWICE already. Once out of the box when this happened and Apple tech suport told me to do a system restore. the second time just a few hours ago when my iTunes back up became corrupt and it’s default settings seemed to be to wipe my iPad clean and demand a restore. This happened when I tried to set up an icloud back up over wifi and then my cellular service just stopped again.

    I’m just fed up with this. I figured this was just a faulty unit that needed to be returned or replaced, but find so many people are having this issue and Apple hasn’t bothered to fix it yet.