How to really turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in iOS 11

Turns out just tapping the buttons in Control Center doesn't do it!

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

Right: Looks like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are off, right? Nope: They're just disconnected. The radios are still active, which poses both battery and security concerns.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

There's something different about iOS 11 -- and whether or not it's a good thing is up for debate.

Ever since its debut, way back in iOS 7, Control Center has included convenient Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles. Tap one, the feature turns off. Tap again, it's back on.

In iOS 11, those same toggles are there, but they function differently: Instead of actually turning off the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios, they simply disconnect you from devices and networks. The radios stay on.

When will Apple fix this?

Apple isn't likely to issue a fix for this unless there's sufficient user outcry, but it isn't a bug; it's by design, according to this Apple support document.

What's the purpose behind this new "feature"? As explained in that document, "In iOS 11 and later, when you toggle the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth buttons in Control Center, your device will immediately disconnect from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth accessories. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will continue to be available."

Why? So you can keep using "important" features and devices like AirDrop, AirPlay, the Apple Pencil and the Apple Watch .

Here's where it gets really weird: If you deactivate Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi via Control Center, both will reactivate automatically starting at 5 a.m., or if you restart your device. And Wi-Fi reactivates if you walk or drive to a new location.

How to really turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi


Now Bluetooth is off off.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

I suspect most folks toggle these radios off for security reasons (iPhones are susceptible to the recent BlueBorne malware attack) and/or to extend battery life. Unfortunately, Control Center no longer allows you to turn off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

To do that, you'll need to venture into Settings, just like in the days before Control Center.

For Bluetooth: Settings > Bluetooth > Off

For Wi-Fi: Settings > Wi-Fi > Off

What are your thoughts on this? Do you prefer the new way these buttons simply disconnect you, or do you want Apple to return this option to the way it was?

I'm with F-Secure's Andrea Barisani, who suggested Apple add a long-press option to allow for actually turning off the two radios.