How to fix your iPhone SE that cannot pair or connect to a Bluetooth device after iOS 11.3 update [Troubleshooting Guide]

Last week of March this year, Apple rolled out iOS version 11.3 for iPhone 5s, SE and later iPhone variants. This update brings in new features and security enhancements to the receiving devices. But just like other prior updates, this version also has its own share of flaws. It turned out that the new update has inflicted troubles to some iPhone SE users particularly when using Bluetooth. Reports have it that after updating to the 11.3 version, the iPhone SE is no longer able to pair with a Bluetooth accessory. Apparently, the problem is attributed to a system error and therefore it’s rectifiable by some workarounds. This denotes the need to troubleshoot.

Now, before we proceed with our troubleshooting, if you have other concerns with your new iPhone SE, drop by our troubleshooting page for we have already published some guides and tutorials. You may also contact us by completing our iPhone issues questionnaire. This is a free consultation servicer we offer and all we need is information about the problem. So please give us that so that we can help you better. 

How to fix iPhone SE that can’t pair with Bluetooth devices

Before you start troubleshooting, make sure both your iPhone SE and Bluetooth accessory are placed near, if not next to each other. Note that proximity is among the factors to make Bluetooth work as intended. Also ensure that your Bluetooth device is compatible with your iPhone. If necessary, care to check if it’s included in your iPhone’s list of supported Bluetooth devices. Your Bluetooth device must also be in discoverable mode for it to be seen by your iPhone. Once you’ve got that checked but still couldn’t get your iPhone SE to work with your Bluetooth accessory, move on and try fixing the problem with these workarounds.

First solution: Reboot your iPhone and Bluetooth device.

Minor glitches and errors are part of the aftermaths of a system overhaul. It’s possible that some of your iPhone functions, particularly Bluetooth is temporarily glitching as it’s still trying to blend with the new platform. This is where system restarts are needed. Not only that it corrects the erratic behavior of your device but also refreshes the system and applies the recent changes from the new update.

  1. Press and hold the Power button until the Slide to Power off prompt appears.
  2. Drag the slider to power off your iPhone completely.
  3. After 30 seconds or so, press and hold the Power button until the Apple logo appears.
  4. On your Bluetooth accessory, locate the Power or On/Off switch. Press on that switch until it powers down. Wait for about 30 seconds or 1 minute and then press on the Power switch again to turn the device back on.

After both devices have restarted, retry pairing them and see if that will work this time.


Second solution: Turn Bluetooth off and on again.

On your iPhone SE, try to turn Bluetooth off and on shortly. This is one way to refresh Bluetooth connections and clears any minor glitches with your iPhone’s Bluetooth system. So here’s what you should do then:

  1. Tap Settings from the Home screen.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Tap the Bluetooth switch to turn the feature OFF.
  4. After a few seconds, tap the switch again to turn Bluetooth back on.

Pair your iPhone SE and Bluetooth accessory again and see if everything is working fine already.

Third solution: Forget/delete Bluetooth device on your iPhone.

Forgetting a Bluetooth device means remove pairing or simply unpairing your iPhone and Bluetooth device. Doing so will delete the Bluetooth device from your iPhone’s memory so the next time you’ll pair them is like the very first instance for both devices to pair or connect to each other. To unpair a Bluetooth accessory on your iPhone SE, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Locate your Bluetooth device from the list.
  4. Tap the blue i or information icon next to the Bluetooth device to you want to unpair.
  5. Then tap the option to Forget this Device.
  6. That device will then be removed from the list of available Bluetooth devices.
  7. Restart your iPhone SE.
  8. Then add the Bluetooth accessory to your iPhone again.

Place it in discoverable mode and then follow these steps to pair it with your iPhone SE again:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Tap the Bluetooth switch to turn Bluetooth on.
  4. Select your Bluetooth accessory from the list of devices.
  5. Tap the option to Pair.
  6. Enter the PIN or password if prompted.
  7. Accept the pairing on your other device.

Then see if that works this time.

Fourth solution: Reset all settings on your iPhone.

Resetting all settings on your iPhone might help especially if the new update automatically overrides your current settings and that eventually causes this conflict. This reset does not affect your iPhone data unlike a factory reset so it does not result to data loss.

  1. Tap Settings from the Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll to and tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Reset All Settings.
  5. If prompted, enter the device passcode.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm settings reset.

Enable Bluetooth again and follow the above steps to restart pairing.

Fifth solution: Factory reset/master reset your iPhone (optional).

If pairing remains unsuccessful after exhausting all prior methods and that your iPhone SE cannot pair with any (all) Bluetooth device, then you may have to resort to a full system reset. The new update might have completely messed up your settings and therefore needs to be configured again accordingly. But reverting individual settings could take time especially that you aren’t sure of which exactly from your iPhone settings needs to be modified. A quicker solution to this would be a master reset. This however will delete your personal data so creating backups is necessary beforehand. Once you’ve got everything backed up, follow these steps to perform a master reset and restore your iPhone SE to its factory defaults:

  1. Tap Settings from the Home screen.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll to and tap Reset.
  4. Select the option to Erase all content and settings.
  5. If prompted, enter the device passcode.
  6. Then tap the option to confirm settings reset.

Wait until the reset is complete, and then proceed to the initial setup process. Enable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other features to use on your iPhone. Then try and see if you’re now able to pair with your Bluetooth accessory (ies).

Seek more help

For further assistance and other options, you may escalate the matter to your carrier or Apple Support so that they can assess it further and if necessary tag it among other priority issues to address in the next update rollout. Alternatively, you may opt to contact the manufacturer of your Bluetooth device to verify if it’s compatible with the latest iOS platform. Otherwise, just use Bluetooth device with similar functions if the issue only occurs to a specific device instead.

Connect with us

Visit our troubleshooting page to view more solutions to other iPhone problems we have addressed in our prior posts. If you wish to reach our iOS support team for further assistance, then you may do so by filling up this form with all the required information. Be sure to provide us with the significant details of the issue that you need help with so we would be able to give you the best possible solutions and recommendations to try on.

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