Why Do Some Apps Work On Mobile Data But Not Wi-Fi?

YouTube app not working on Wi-Fi but works on Mobile data hotspot

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What To Know

  • Certain settings on Android phones, like the ‘Disable Wi-Fi’ feature or ‘Allowed networks for apps’, can prevent apps from accessing Wi-Fi.
  • Apps can malfunction on Wi-Fi due to software glitches or outdated OS. Solutions include restarting the app, reinstalling it, or updating the OS.
  • VPNs or third-party apps can limit some apps’ Wi-Fi access. Disabling the VPN can help, but be cautious on public networks.

You’ve been scrolling Instagram the entire morning on your commute to work. The app was working perfectly fine, but as soon as you connected to the office Wi-Fi, the network cut out. Your phone is connected to the Wi-Fi network, so why can’t you access the app? 

This problem has been happening on a few other apps as well, and you can not figure out why. 

Why do some apps work on mobile data but not Wi-Fi? 

Keep reading to find out! 

The Applications/OS Might Be Bugged

Sometimes social media apps (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, etc.) may have bugs that limit certain functions. The app may buffer, crash, and at times, be unable to use Wi-Fi. 

To fix this, you may need to restart your device and app, or completely reinstall the app. 


  • Properly close the app to shut it down. This process differs depending on which iPhone you have, so head to the Apple website for the complete instructions.
  • If your iPhone is glitching, you may need to restart it. This process can be done using your iPhone’s buttons. Since these keys vary from model to model, head to Apple’s article Restart your iPhone for a comprehensive guide on restarting any iPhone.

removing and deleting Viber app on iPhone

  • If the app is still glitching after you’ve restarted it and your iPhone, you may need to reinstall it. 

Step 1: Long-tap the app’s icon. 

Step 2: Then, select Remove App

The Disney plus app is getting removed on iPhone 13 plus

The prompt from iPhone 13 plus asking if user wants to delete the Disney plus app

Step 3: Confirm your choice by selecting Delete App


Close the malfunctioning app by following the steps below. 

Step 1: Swipe up on the bottom of your screen and hold your finger in one place for a second or two. 

Step 2: Close the app by swiping it up.

Update Your Phone’s OS

Your phone’s OS may be bugged or out of date, so it’s best to update it if possible. 


downloading iOS 16 on Iphone on software update function

Step 1: Launch the Settings

Step 2: Head to General

Step 3: Select Software Update.

Step 4: If there are any available updates, Download and Install them. You can also toggle Automatic Updates on. 


system update function on an android phone to install new OS

Step 1: Head to the Settings

Step 2: Open System

Step 3: Go to System Update

Step 4: Install any pending updates. 

Some Apps On Some Samsung Phones Are Not Working Over Wi-Fi

Many Samsung users, including myself, occasionally face this issue. Despite trying the quick fixes mentioned earlier, my social media apps still wouldn’t work over a Wi-Fi connection.

Fortunately, I found a solution provided by Samsung: the Clear Cache and Repair App features from Recovery Mode.

Here is how:

Step 1: Turn off your Samsung phone completely. 

Samsung phone is turning off completely

Step 2: Plug in the power cable to charge your phone. 

Step 3: With your phone powered off, simultaneously press and hold the Power and Volume Up buttons. Release them once the Android logo appears. Your phone will boot into Recovery Mode.

A hand is pressed simultaneously the power and volume buttons on a Samsung phone

A Samsung A71 phone is restarting

The reboot menu interface on Samsung A71 showing

Step 4: Use the Volume Up and Down buttons to navigate to the Clear Cache or Wipe Cache Partition option. 

The wipe cache option from the reboot menu on Samsung A71 phone

Press the Power button to confirm your choice, then select Yes to begin the process (this usually takes under 2 seconds). 

The reboot interface asking user if the want to select Yes and No for wiping cache

After clearing the cache, you’ll return to the Recovery menu. Next, select “Repair App“. Your phone will run the function and then automatically restart.

The repair app feature from the Recovery Menu on Samsung A71

Step 5: After the restart, reconnect to Wi-Fi and try running the malfunctioning app again.

The Xbox app on Samsung A71 phone

The Applications’ Wi-Fi Function Is Disabled

Your phone’s Wi-Fi function may be disabled for certain apps, preventing them from using it. So, it’s a good idea to check that Wi-Fi is enabled for the glitching app. 


This function is not available on iPhones. 


toggling off the Disable Wi-Fi setting on an Android smartphone

Step 1: Navigate to the Settings

Step 2: Go to App

Step 3: Select the malfunctioning app from the list. 

Step 4: Ensure that Disable Wi-Fi is toggled off

If your phone doesn’t have the ‘Wi-Fi disabled‘ feature, it might have ‘Allowed networks for apps‘ settings, similar to my Samsung A71.

Within the ‘Allowed networks for apps‘, there are three options:

  • Mobile data or Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi only
  • Mobile data only

Ensure that the app you are using is not set to Mobile data only. If set to this option, the app will only function when your phone is using mobile data.

The Xbox app is set as using Mobile data only on Android phone

To change this setting:

Step 1: Go to Settings → Connections → Data Usage → Allowed networks for apps


The connections feature on Samsung A71 phone

The data usage feature on Samsung A71 phone

The allow network for apps selection is being highlighted with a red box on Samsung A71

The three options for to choose Mobile data or Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi only and Mobile data only

Step 2: Choose the specific app that isn’t working properly. A menu will pop up. Ensure the app is not set to “Mobile data only”. Instead, select either “Wi-Fi only” or “Mobile data or Wi-Fi”.

Too Many Devices Connected to One Internet/Wi-Fi Network

Your Wi-Fi router may be working but be overcrowded with too many devices. This will cause the network speed to slow dramatically, causing your apps to buffer or struggle to load. 

If you’re using a public network, there may be little you can do to fix this problem. 

However, if you’re using your home Wi-Fi router, try disconnecting any other devices currently connected to it. Devices like streaming sticks, smart TVs, tablets, and phones are still consuming bandwidth in standby mode. So, it’s a good idea to temporarily disable their Wi-Fi. 

It’s also a good idea to restart your router by unplugging it for 30 seconds. Then, re-connect it to power and, if needed, turn it on. 

The Wi-Fi Connection May Be Blocked by the VPN/Third-Party Software

NordVPN on Samsung A71 phone

VPNs or third-party apps on your smartphone may limit certain apps’ Wi-Fi connections. This issue is more prevalent when using apps with highly sensitive information, like banking apps. 

So, temporarily turn off your VPN when you need to access these apps. 

We strongly recommend avoiding this when using public networks, as it could make your sensitive information vulnerable to hackers. If you do need to access banking apps or your email when in public spaces, it’s safest to use your cellular data. 

Wrapping Things Up

Apps not working on Wi-Fi can be confusing, especially if they’re working on cellular data. 

The issue could be related to the app’s software glitching or bugs in your smartphone’s OS. Android devices also have a Disable Wi-Fi setting which prevents certain apps from using Wi-Fi, so make sure this setting is disabled. 

The Wi-Fi network may also be overcrowded, causing your apps to stagger. Your smartphone’s VPN could also prevent certain sensitive apps from accessing Wi-Fi. 

What’s your experience with apps not working on Wi-Fi? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

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