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How to fix a blank Wi-Fi login screen in iOS

Are you having trouble connecting to certain Wi-Fi hotspots? If your iPhone's log-in screen is blank, try this.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read
Does this happen to you?
Does this happen to you? Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

For as long as I can remember, my iPhone 4S has had trouble connecting to certain Wi-Fi hotspots.

When I go to Panera Bread, for example, I can connect to their network on my laptop without a problem. But it requires visiting a landing page in my browser and clicking a button to agree to the terms of service.

When I try to make that same connection on my iPhone, a log-in screen immediately pops up -- but stays blank. For some reason, it fails to load that landing page, meaning I can't tap "I agree" and therefore can't get online.

This same blank log-in screen appears at other Wi-Fi hotspots as well; those that require some kind of interaction. Needless to say, it's a huge inconvenience.

I've googled this issue many times, reset both my phone and its network settings, and shared my plight on Apple's community forums, but have yet to find a solution. Until recently, when I discovered one quite by accident.

I was in the basement of a museum, of all places, trying to connect to their hotspot. I was especially desperate because I couldn't get cell service down there. No bars at all.

As usual, the log-in screen popped up -- but this time it wasn't blank! I zoomed the page so I could see the little "agree" button, tapped it, and presto: Wi-Fi, just the way the universe intended.

So what made the difference? There was no cell service at the time. To prove this theory, I headed to my local Panera (where there's perfectly good cell service) and tried connecting: same blank log-in screen. Then I enabled the iPhone's Airplane Mode (which disables the cellular antenna) and tried again. Success! This time the log-in screen produced Panera's sign-in page. I got connected, then turned Airplane Mode off, and, thankfully, stayed connected. Problem solved.

It's a kludge, but it works. Why? I have no idea.

If you've encountered this scenario before and know of a different remedy, by all means share it in the comments. Or if you have some thoughts as to why my "fix" works, let's hear that, too. Maybe with a little crowd-sourcing we can get to the bottom of this.