Why isn’t my phone detecting WiFi while other devices can?

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

It’s not uncommon for someone to pull out their phone, whether it’s an Android device like Samsung or Huawei, an iPhone, or any other brand, hoping to connect to a nearby WiFi network, only to find that their device isn’t picking up any signals — even though their friend’s phone or their laptop is happily connected. This situation can be perplexing, frustrating, and downright baffling. While we have come to rely heavily on our smartphones for communication, entertainment, and productivity, they are, after all, sophisticated pieces of technology with numerous components and settings that can sometimes go awry.

In this article, we’ll look into the reasons behind this phenomenon and provide practical solutions to get your phone back on track. Whether it’s a hardware issue, software glitch, or an overlooked setting, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get started.

Why isn't my phone detecting WiFi while other devices can

Common reasons your phone won’t detect WiFi and their fixes

While some issues can be resolved with basic checks and minor tweaks, others might require a more thorough examination. Let’s explore the most common scenarios first.

1. Software glitches

Sometimes, our devices experience software hiccups that interfere with their normal operation.

Solution: A simple restart can resolve this. Hold down the power button on your phone and select the option to “Restart” or “Power Off and On”. This action will refresh your device’s software, potentially clearing up any minor glitches.

Restart Android Phone

2. Airplane mode is enabled

It may sound basic, but there have been instances where the Airplane mode is accidentally enabled, which turns off all wireless communications, including WiFi.

Solution: Go to “Settings”, then “Network & Internet” (this might vary based on your phone’s model), and ensure that Airplane mode is turned off.

Android phone Airplane Mode

3. WiFi is turned off

Another straightforward check is to ensure that your WiFi is actually enabled.

Solution: Swipe down from the top of your screen to access the quick settings menu. Here, ensure that the WiFi icon is active (usually illuminated or colored). Alternatively, you can go to “Settings” and then “Network & Internet” to check if WiFi is turned on.

Android phone can't detect any WiFi network

4. Outdated software

Old software versions can sometimes be buggy or incompatible with newer WiFi standards.

Solution: Check for updates by going to “Settings”, then “System”, and clicking on “Software Updates”. If there’s an update available, download and install it.

Check for OS updates on Android phone

5. Physical obstructions or interference

While other devices might be connecting fine, it’s possible that your phone’s positioning places it in a location with more physical obstructions or interference.

Phone won't detect WiFi Network

Solution: Move closer to the router or try to reduce the number of obstructions between your phone and the router. Also, consider removing or relocating other electronic devices that might cause interference, such as cordless phones or microwave ovens.

Linked issue: “Can’t connect to this network” WiFi or Hotspot Issue

Advanced troubleshooting for persistent phone WiFi detection issues

If the standard fixes don’t do the trick, it’s time to dig deeper. Some underlying causes might be less obvious, but with patience and a systematic approach, they can be addressed.

6. WiFi network limitations

Certain routers or networks might have limitations on the number of devices that can connect simultaneously.

My phone cannot detect WiFi but other devices can

Solution: Check your router settings or consult the device’s manual to see if there’s a device limit. If the limit has been reached, try disconnecting some devices to free up space for your phone.

Useful tip: How to Share Files Between Android and PC Wirelessly

7. Incorrect date and time

Believe it or not, an incorrect date and time on your device can cause connection issues, especially if the WiFi network requires authentication.

Solution: Go to “Settings” and then “System” or “General” (based on your device). Select “Date & Time” and ensure it’s set correctly. Turning on the automatic date & time setting is often the easiest way to ensure accuracy.

Set Android phone date and time

8. Saved network issues

Sometimes, the details of a saved network (like passwords) can get corrupted or out-of-date.

Solution: Go to “Settings” > “Network & Internet” > “WiFi”. From the list of networks, select the troublesome network and click on “Forget” or “Remove”. Then, reconnect by entering the necessary details afresh.

Forget a WiFi network on Android Phone

9. Faulty hardware

It’s rare, but sometimes the WiFi hardware in your phone can malfunction.

Solution: If you suspect this is the case, especially if the device has been subjected to physical trauma, consider visiting a professional or the phone’s service center. They can run diagnostic tests to confirm.

10. Router compatibility

Older phones might not be compatible with newer router frequencies, such as 5GHz. Conversely, very new phones might not connect to older routers.

Solution: Check your phone’s specifications to see which WiFi frequencies it supports. Access your router’s settings to see if it’s broadcasting on a frequency your phone can detect. If it’s a dual-band router, try switching between 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels.

Final thoughts

Connecting to WiFi should ideally be a seamless process, but as with all technology, there are moments when things don’t go as planned. By understanding the potential issues and their solutions, you empower yourself to troubleshoot effectively and stay connected. If you’ve tried all the above steps and your phone still won’t detect WiFi, it might be time to seek professional assistance or consider the possibility of an inherent device fault.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of WindowsDigitals.com. With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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