Instead of just scratching your head
iPhones with Touch ID—such as the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE (2020)—denote network activity in the form of a spinning wheel icon on the status bar. It shows up next to the Wi-Fi and Cellular indicators and tends to disappear when nothing is happening over the internet.
But rarely, rogue app processes and connectivity-related issues can cause the icon to remain stuck indefinitely. That usually ends up adversely impacting the iPhone’s battery life.
If your iPhone displays a constant spinning wheel icon on the menu bar, the list of troubleshooting tips and fixes below should help you sort things out.
1. Toggle Airplane Mode ON/OFF
Shutting down the Wi-Fi and Cellular radios on your iPhone briefly can resolve minor issues with internet connectivity. You can do that by turning Airplane Mode ON/OFF.
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Control Center. Then, tap the Airplane Mode icon and wait for 10 seconds before tapping it again.
If the spinning wheel icon continues to remain on the iPhone’s menu bar, move on with the rest of the fixes.
2. Disable Background App Refresh
Some apps update themselves over the internet in the background. That can trigger a constant spinning wheel icon on the iPhone’s status bar.
Try disabling the Background App Refresh functionality on your iPhone. To do that, head over to Settings > Privacy > Background App Refresh > Background App Refresh and select Off.
If that ended up fixing the stuck spinning wheel icon issue, select Wi-Fi & Cellular Data to re-enable Background App Refresh. Then, go back to the previous screen and toggle the individual Background App Refresh switches to isolate problematic apps.
3. Force-Quit All Apps
Force-quitting all open apps on the iPhone may help get rid of any stuck network requests. Double-click the iPhone’s Home button to open the app switcher. Then, drag each app card to the screen’s top-edge to force-quit it from memory.
4. Check for Network-Related Issues
Spotty internet connectivity also results in a constant spinning wheel icon on the iPhone’s menu bar. Since you’ve already toggled Airplane Mode ON/OFF, here are several other things that you can do:
- Switch to cellular data or vice versa.
- Check your mobile plan for bandwidth limitations or sufficient credit.
- Renew the iPhone’s Wi-Fi lease.
- Reset your wireless router.
- Switch to a different Wi-Fi connection.
5. Activate and Cancel Siri
A bugged-out instance of Siri is another reason for the constant spinning wheel icon issue.
An unusual way to fix that is to activate and cancel Siri. Press and hold the Home button to invoke Siri. Then, press the Home button again to cancel. The spinning circle should disappear after trying that out a couple of times.
6. Restart iPhone
Did the spinning wheel icon go away? If not, you should try restarting your iPhone. That flushes out the system memory and resolves most unexpected issues in iOS.
Start by holding down the Side button. Then, drag the Power icon to the right to shut down the device.
Wait for 30 seconds before holding the Side button again to boot the device back up.
7. Deactivate Siri
If activating and canceling Siri didn’t help, you may want to try deactivating the functionality on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Siri & Search and disable the switches next to Listen for “Hey” Siri and Press Side Button for Siri.
If you sorted out the issue with the constantly spinning wheel icon, you must apply pending system software updates (more on that below) to patch out any known bugs with Siri.
8. Deactivate Dictation
The iPhone’s Dictation functionality processes specific voice inputs (such as those related to searches) by relaying them to the Apple servers. However, that can glitch out and result in a constantly spinning circle.
Check if deactivating Dictation can help. To do that, head over to Settings > General > Keyboard and turn off the switch next to Enable Dictation.
9. Update iPhone
Updating your iPhone usually resolves various system-related bugs that cause the spinning wheel icon to appear on the iPhone.
Go to Settings > General > Software Update and tap Download and Install or Install Now to apply pending updates to iOS immediately.
10. Update Apps
iOS aside, you must also install available updates to any third-party apps. That should fix known issues causing network-related processes to go rogue on your iPhone.
Long-press the App Store icon and select Updates. Then, perform a swipe-down gesture to scan for new app updates. Follow by tapping Update All to apply all pending app updates.
11. Disable iPhone Analytics
Your iPhone transmits usage statistics to Apple to improve various services such as Siri and Dictation. But that can also cause the spinning wheel icon to remain stuck on the iPhone’s menu bar.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking. Then, scroll down and select Analytics and Improvements. Follow by turning off all switches within the Analytics and Improvements screen.
12. Revoke App Tracking Permissions
Apps can track you across the web and other apps. That can also result in a constantly spinning circle on the iPhone’s status bar. Revoke tracking permissions and see if that helps.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and turn off all switches next to any apps that have the permission to track you on your iPhone.
13. Reset iPhone
If you still see a constant spinning wheel icon, you should reset your iPhone to resolve corrupt settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset and work your way through each of the reset options in the following order:
Reset Network Settings: Reverts network settings to their defaults.
Reset All Settings: Reverts all network and system-related settings on the iPhone to their defaults.
Erase All Content and Settings: Reverts your iPhone to factory defaults. Create an iCloud or Finder/iTunes backup on a Mac or PC beforehand so that you can get your data back.
Did none of the fixes above help? If the spinning wheel icon continues to show up on your iPhone’s status bar, you’re likely looking at a device with defective hardware. Contact Apple for repairs or a replacement.