Connecting: how and when

Your phone has different connection types that it can use to connect to the Internet and other devices. Each type has advantages, depending on where you are and what you want to do.

Action centre on Windows Phone
Swipe down to reveal action centre

The quickest way to manage certain connection settings, including WiFi, Bluetooth and flight mode, is to add them to action centre. Once you've done that, you can view and change your connections with just a swipe and a tap. See Using quick actions on your phone to learn more. To find and configure settings for all connections, in the App list, tap Settings Settings icon.


This topic is about Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and icons may look a little different, and some features may not be available. Check to see which software version you have and find out if an update is available.

Mobile connectivity

Your phone uses a mobile connection when you make and receive phone calls. It also uses it when you text someone. The settings your phone uses for mobile connectivity are found in SettingsSettings icon > Mobile network + SIM and can vary by mobile operator. See Mobile network and SIM settings for more info.

Data connectivity

When you do things like browse the web, send emails or use apps that connect to the Internet, your phone can send and receive data using either a WiFi or mobile data connection. When your phone is connected to both of them at the same time, it will try to use the WiFi connection first.

WiFi connectivity

You're probably already familiar with WiFi networks. If you have a wireless network at home or work, or have used your laptop to go online in a coffee shop, you've used WiFi. In the same way, you can also connect to a WiFi network with your Windows Phone. WiFi connections can help reduce your mobile data usage, which is good if you don't have an unlimited data plan.

Your phone's WiFi setting is turned on by default. To connect to a WiFi network, go to Settings Settings icon > WiFi, then tap the network you want to connect to. If you can't see any networks, tap Map nearby WiFi to open Maps and see WiFi networks that are nearby. See Connecting to a WiFi network for more info.

Many WiFi networks are secure and require you to enter a password to connect. Your phone can connect to open networks that don't require a password, and to secure networks that use any of these security protocols: WPA2, WPA, WEP, certificates, 802.1X and EAP-SIM/AKA/AKA'.

With WiFi Sense, you can also let your phone automatically connect to WiFi networks for you. See Using WiFi Sense to get connected for more info.


  • WiFi Sense is only available on Windows Phone 8.1. (WiFi Sense is not available in all countries or regions.)
  • Open networks aren't secure. For example, anyone can connect and possibly see what you're doing. Be careful when doing things online that require personal or sensitive information, or wait until you can connect to a secure network that you trust before doing these things.

Mobile data connectivity

Charges for your mobile data connection depend on the data plan you have with your mobile operator. You might be charged extra for data usage over a certain limit or when roaming (when your phone connects to a mobile network other than your mobile operator's). To help avoid additional data roaming charges, your phone is set by default to turn off your mobile data connection when roaming. See What's data roaming? for more info.

Your mobile network connection options also depend on your phone model and your locale. Different locales often have different mobile network infrastructure. In general, you can get data connectivity almost anywhere you can get a mobile network connection (as long as data connectivity is available). This is great for when you're out and about and want to search the web to find nearby restaurants, shops or cinemas.

Your phone's mobile data connectivity settings are found in Settings Settings icon > Mobile network + SIM and can vary by mobile operator. These settings can help you control your mobile data connection and stay connected when travelling. See Mobile network and SIM settings for more info.

And speaking of travelling, if you're on a plane and need to turn off your mobile network and other connections, you can use flight mode. Turning on flight mode turns off all connectivity. (You can turn WiFi, FM radio, Bluetooth and NFC sharing back on separately, as allowed by the airline.) To turn it on, go to Settings Settings icon > Flight mode.

Bluetooth connectivity

You can use Bluetooth to pair your phone with a Bluetooth accessory, such as a car kit or a headset for hands-free phone calls, or to connect to the Internet when using Internet sharing. You can also pair your phone with other phones and devices that have Bluetooth, so you can share files over Bluetooth. By default, Bluetooth is turned off on your Windows Phone.

NFC connectivity

If your phone has NFC (Near Field Communication) capability, you can pair it to another NFC-capable device by tapping them together. After it's paired, you can share photos, links to websites, contacts and more. To turn on NFC, in Settings Settings icon > NFC, turn on Tap to share Toggle On icon.

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