Fix Wifi Issues: Captive Networks

Whilst travelling on a train up north to deliver another onsite training course, I decided to connect my iPhone to the train’s free Wi-Fi service. Shouldn’t be a problem should it?

It’s easy to connect an iOS device to Wi-Fi networks and I’ve been doing it for years.

I simply launched the Settings app and selected ‘Wi-Fi’ and waited for the train’s Wireless network to appear :
I selected the Trains’ Wi-Fi and… waited and waited and waited.
A blank white screen was all i ended up with :
I noticed my iPhone was trying to load a captive network screen but clearly was having issues.
Captive Wi-Fi networks are public Wi-Fi networks that you subscribe to or pay to use, often used in public areas such as hotels, airports, coffee shops and onboard trains.
I didn’t think too much of it and tried again, going back to the Settings app and selecting Wi-Fi and choosing the train’s Wi-Fi network.
Nope, same issue.
I knew the Wi-Fi on the train was fine as I was using it on my MacBook Pro at the time. It was clearly an issue on my phone.
I checked online using my MacBook Pro and noticed that Apple have a simple ‘How to use captive Wi-Fi networks’ support article which clearly states I was doing everything right.
Troubleshooting time then!
My first thought was to put my phone into Airplane Mode and then to turn Airplane Mode off again.
Thinking that essentially rebooting the phone’s networking connections might work.
So I swiped up from the bottom of my iPhone screen to access Control Center and enabled Airplane Mode. Counted to 5 and then disabled Airplane Mode.
I then tried to connect once more to the Wi-Fi but the same white screen greeted me!
At this rate my train would be pulling in before I got online, so I thought I’d try a halfway option and disable just Mobile Data and leave the phone’s other network services active.
So I went back into the Settings app and selected ‘Mobile Data’ :
I then turned off Mobile Data to see if just trying to use Wi-Fi and not having cellular connections running may help by just swiping the Mobile Data slider to off :
One last time I went back to the Wi-Fi section of the Settings app and chose the trains’ Wi-Fi network, then…
I’m in! Finally!
I’ve heard others having the same issue with their iPhones and some have found that there is also another solution as opposed to what I did which is to select ‘Safari’ within the Settings app and then choose to ‘Clear History and Website Data’.

Blog Summary

I hope you have found this blog useful and if you come across the same issue whilst trying to connect to a captive network from your iOS device, I hope this fixes your connection issues too.
While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post.
Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.
This blog was written and demonstrated using iOS 9.3.5 which was the latest release of iOS at the time of writing, however this workaround should work with any version of iOS.