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In Settings -> Wi-Fi, there's a connection listed that says "Connected, no internet".

What does it mean to be connected? What does it mean for a device to be connected but without internet access? I'm not trying to fix this state: my goal strictly is to find out more about it.

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The status Connected, no Internet in Android's WiFi settings strictly means that:

  1. You have a connection to the wireless access point and a valid IP configuration so connectivity to the local network is possible.
  2. Your device has not (yet) established a connection to Google's connectivity check and thus determined that no internet connectivity available.

This does not mean that you don't have an internet connection, it just can't reach the Google servers (google.com/generate_204) to determine this.
This often appears shortly after connecting to a WiFi access point when the device is still checking the connectivity.
This can also appear if the network you are connected to is using a captive portal and you haven't authenticated with it, yet.
It is also possible that there isn't any internet connectivity on the WiFi AP, for instance when connecting to a drone or digital camera.

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    It can also occur when you have connected to a wifi access point that intentionally does not have internet, for example a parrot drone. – Shadow May 9 '17 at 1:00
  • @shadow true, but then there would be no question as to why that WiFi AP had no internet. – GiantTree May 9 '17 at 6:42
  • Indeed - but I figured it was worth adding to your numbered list, for the sake of completeness. – Shadow May 9 '17 at 23:14
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    @shadow you're right, I added this to my list. – GiantTree May 10 '17 at 17:50
  • What's "Google's connectivity check"? Does it ping something? – frogatto Sep 5 '17 at 7:30
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Connected generally means the devices in question have successfully established communication between each other. In other words, they are able to sent data packets between each other.

Connected no internet means communication is established between the devices, but this communication is not established with other interconnection of "outside servers" (internet) or outside world. In this way, data packets are still sent and received between devices and not "outside server".

One of the devices e.g router, mobile (mobile APNs) provide this gateway in order to allow sending and receiving of these packets to "outside servers".

Several factors prevent this connection to the "outside servers":

  • Firewall in one of the devices
  • Firewall by ISP
  • Blockage of the domain name system which translates host names to IP addresses
  • Invalid APNs
  • Incorrect DNS settings etc

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