iOS 6 users report inexplicable range of Wi-Fi problems

John Cox
1 October, 2012
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Some number of iPhone and iPad users upgrading to iOS 6 are reporting a range of Wi-Fi problems, as are some iPhone 5 users. The solutions, when there are any, seems as baffling as the problems.

The continuing posts at Apple’s tech support site and at online forums show users with existing iPhone and iPads frustrated by a flurry of different problems, including a “greyed out” Wi-Fi option, dropped connections, slow connection speeds and having to connect manually to a Wi-Fi access point. Separately, there are posts by some owners of the new iPhone 5, released last Friday, also about Wi-Fi problems.

Confusedly, these are problems that are unrelated to the Wi-Fi glitch last week when iOS 6 was first released. In that situation, the iPhone or iPad pings an Apple website to determine if the device is on a hotel or airport Wi-Fi network and needs a network ‘terms of agreement’ page. That web page was temporarily offline, but its absence prevented a lot of users from getting Wi-Fi access for a few hours. But it was quickly fixed.

Because of the nature of online postings, it’s difficult to see patterns or to gain a sense of how widespread these problems are. When queried last Friday, an Apple PR spokesman replied via email “Thanks for bringing this to my attention.” Two follow-up emails asking for a statement from Apple have not been acknowledged by either of two PR persons contacted.

A typical post on Apple’s own support boards is this one from bigfirefighter, in Ohio, who posted Tuesday morning Sept.25: “I have been through 2 levels of Apple Support and they can’t help, they said they “kicked it up to the engineers”. IPhone 4 updated at the same time as iPad, which works perfectly. Cannot turn on wifi on the phone since it is grayed out. Did several hard resets, restored twice, restored to factory settings once, reset network connections twice, nothing works…”

That post was part of a thread titled ‘iOS 6 WiFi Disabled’ which by Tuesday afternoon had received 70,496 views, and 835 comments.

Another poster named VeeDom reported the same problem. “I called Apple Care and told me that they know about this issue and are working on it for a new release of IOS6 to fix this…Until now, we are stuck!” He added a new twist: “Also, just found out that aside from the greyed wifi switch, I can’t seem to detect my [iPhone] 4S on my macbook via wifi (using personal hotspot) even if it is enabled. I’m not sure if it is related to the wifi issue but you may want to check if yours is working.”

Solutions seems as inexplicable as the problems. Kenishialala posted: “I had the same problem since yesterday but thank goodness it’s back now! I’ve been restoring my iphone for I can’t remember how many times now. But for the nth time today, it finally worked! The original plan was to downgrade to iOS 5.1.1. I failed twice so on the third time, I decided to bring back the iOS6. MIRACLE, I am now able to use the wifi again. Toggle it on and off and connect it to our Wifi.”

By Tuesday afternoon, forums had 10 separate threads related to Wi-Fi issues with iOS 6 or the new iPhone 5: such as “Painfully slow WiFi on new iPhone 5,” “WiFi Sync Terrible on iOS 6?,” “No WiFi on certain access points,” and “Persistent WiFi + iOS6.” But keep in mind that many of the earlier posts on these threads are related to the original Web-based Wi-Fi glitch.

New owners of the iPhone 5 frustrated by similar problems, as posts at the online forums of show.

Commenter otis123 wrote “My [iPhone] 5 is having quite a bit of trouble with my AirPort Extreme [access point]. Slow throughput and its having a hard time staying connected. My other iOS devices are fine as always, even my 3rd gen iPad on iOS 6.”

Another poster, vanc, had a similar experience, with his Apple Airport Express access point. “Throughput was horrible, and disconnected from my Airport express constantly. In the same location, my iPhone 4, iPad 1 & 3 all worked perfectly.” His solution: “In order to make iPhone 5 happy, I purchased an Airport Extreme yesterday and used the existing Airport express as an extender. This solved the problem perfectly. Now on iPhone 5, I don’t have random dropouts and throughput is inline with my other iDevices.”

ZenErik found a wide performance gap between his laptop and the new iPhone: “I’m getting 10 – 12 Mbps down on my laptop and anywhere between .3 and 10 Mbps on my iPhone 5. Extremely inconsistent. ping has gone anywhere from 60 – 300 ms. Up speed has remained between 5 and 6 Mbps for the most part.”

One user, urbantekreport, posted a solution – found at – which restored iPhone 5 performance: “Settings> Wi-Fi > Blue icon next to the network you’re connecting to > Scroll to the bottom > Set your device’s HTTP Proxy to Auto (leave Url blank) After this, try speed test again! Snappy!

It worked for another user, but others said it failed. One of them was danilko1, who reported that the new iPhone 5 worked “pretty good” out of the box and over the weekend, but then it failed to connect at work and then at home. “I noticed GPS was active. I killed all apps. Rebooted. Then not at first, but within 10 minutes, something healed and now it’s running good again. This is strange. I hope it’s not a common thing. I hardly ever had to reboot my other iPhones.”

WLAN vendors, when they’re willing to comment, say they’re not seeing any surge of problems.

“We have upgraded dozens if iOS devcies internally and have not seen any performance degradation,” according to Bruce Miller, vice president of product marketing, networks, at Xirrus, a WLAN vendor. “We have not received any communications from our customers with issues related to iOS upgrades either, either directly into [Tech] Support or via social channels.”

Ruckus Wireless and Aerohive also said there have been no problem reports so far. Cisco declined to comment.

A teacher, identified as bravescoach, started a thread on Apple’s site describing problems at at Indianapolis-area school with 750 students and a mix of personally-owned mobile devices, though “hundreds” have iPhones and iPads. The school’s Wi-Fi network is based on Cisco Aironet WLAN gear.

“There is definitely an issue where iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd generation devices are “unable to join network” after updating to iOS 6,” he writes. “Needless to say it is wholly impractical to revert firmware on any of these machines just to deal with two [types of] devices. Each of these devices were fully capable of connecting while on iOS 5.1.1.”

Other iDevices, including iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch 4th gen and iPad 2 “all work fine.” According to this poster “several schools” in the area have run into problems. His own iPad 3 works, updated to iOS 6, works on his home network, with a Linksys router, but not on the school’s WLAN.

A variety of suggestions have been put forward including resetting or changing the authentication/encryption being used by the client devices and the network. But that’s not an option for many enterprise WLANs.

Users with working iPhone 5 Wi-Fi are seeing some startling increases in throughput, as some of the comments above show. This is due almost entirely to the fact that it now supports Wi-Fi connections over the 5-GHz band instead of just 2.4 GHz. [see "FAQ: iPhone 5 and 5GHz Wi-Fi"]

Xirrus this week has run a series of tests with the new iPhone 5, connecting to its Wireless Array access point. One set of tests compared Wi-Fi performance of iPhone 5 on 2.4GHz with 20 MHz-wide channels and on 5GHz with 40 MHz-wide channels. The second set of tests Wi-Fi performance of the iPhone 4S on 2.4 GHz with 20 MHz-wide channels. Each test measured the throughput and time to send and receive a 100MB file.

For iPhone 5 on 2.4 GHz: throughput was 42.24Mbps and 19 seconds uploading, and 38.31Mbps and 21 seconds downloading the file.

The iPhone 4S had comparable numbers in 2.4 GHz: 32.18Mbps and 20 seconds uploading; and 40.23Mbps and 25 seconds downloading.

But on 5GHz, with its uncluttered spectrum and wider channels, the iPhone 5 showed an astounding improvement: throughput was 80.39Mbps and 9 seconds uploading, and 67.05Mbps and 12 seconds downloading.

At least for non-streaming applications, that kind of speed can prolong battery life because the radio connection is active for much shorter periods of time for the same amount of data being transferred.


12 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Mark says:

    Apple wants to charge me $59.99 to fix my WiFi via remote access on my computer. They claim that since I downloaded ios6 via WiFi it is my fault it does not work properly. They refused to let me speak with a supervisor unless I paid the fee. The first time I called they agreed to fix it for free after I managed to speak with a supervisor. They gave me a reference number and agreed to call me back in an hour, the time I said I will be at a computer. They also said they would email me. They did not call back so I called them. They claimed to have no record of my reference number, my call, or taking my email. They claimed the reason why they didn’t call or email was because I was not a subscriber to their service… the $59.99 fee. They said my name is now in the “system” and my complaint will be disregarded until I pay the fee. I am also not allowed to speak with a supervisor util I pay the fee.I am now selling my iphone and will never own any apple product ever again.

  2. Zara says:

    I have no wifi since, I used to have a normal wifi connection but not wifi disappears and the botton is not even active. I do not know what to do.. I followed the advice and restore my iphone, restore settings but nothing helped. If you know the solution please leave your comment.

  3. Vinny says:

    iOS6 suck big time. Bad quality. Page loading is bloody slow. Bring back the iOS5.1.x

  4. Hans Doeleman says:

    I suffer from a hotspot problem (iPhone 4): a lost connection from my iPad 2 to this phone. There seems to be no solution in sight.

    5.1.1 Worked 100% OK.

    I suggest Apple give a Beta OS to anybody willing to try it – so next time more errors will be found by the real diehards. I don’t want to suffer from an OFFICIAL version of an iOS again.

    I also suggest that next time Apple build in the possibility to downgrade easily. I don’t want to suffer from an OFFICIAL version of an iOS again.

  5. Arup Choudhury says:

    I have an iphone 4, ipad 3rd gen and an ipod touch 4th gen. I used to connect all the devices along with my android tablet to my wifi hotspot using the iphone 4. It worked without any hassle in IOS 5.x
    After upgrading to IOS 6 it needs a lot of effort to make the hotspot work. Frequent switch off and switch on is required, otherwise the hotspot does not show up in the other devices

  6. jen says:

    Let me add my voice to the discontent! I wish I had not upgraded to IOS 6. My iphone 4s worked perfectly before upgrade and now I have problems connecting to my home wireless network. All of my other devices including 2 ipads and another iphone still on ios 5 work perfectly. Why are the problems with ios 6 not being acknowledged? Failure of business ethics!

  7. ralph says:

    Let me also add my voice to the discontent! I wish I had not upgraded to IOS 6 in my ipad2. The wifi worked perfectly before upgrade and now I have problems connecting to my home wireless network. All of my other devices, the laptop and ipod work ok on wifi. If I had the option would revert back to IOS%

  8. Dorothy says:

    First problem after upgrading was the wifi was greyed out. Had to go to an Apple store, they had to give me a new phone as they could not fix the problem. Now this new 4S won’t retain my home network password and it drops the network. Have to keep reentering the wifi password constantly. Apple tried to blame it on my Linksys router. I called Linksys, they claim to have never heard of a problem caused by their routers or that a newer router or router software would fix the problem. Called Apple back, they really just don’t know! Tech guy going to talk to another dept. tomorrow and get back to me. Why did I ever buy an iPhone?! Friend has an HTC – loves it. Fast, has 4G. And I’m stuck with a 3G iPhone and I can’t upgrade until my Verizon contract allows it. First and last iPhone I will ever own.

  9. Ian Pendergrast says:

    In settings under wifi select the network that you are connected (ie press on right facing arrow). Then make sure auto-join is on. Next time you unlock the phone, it will connect again. Cheers

  10. Anne Kelly says:

    I cannot believe Apple aren’t addressing this issue with more speed? Since upgrading to IOS6 connecting to wifi has been so hit and miss it’s beyond a joke. My iphone4S is a work issued phone and at the moment it cannot even connect to the workplace wifi. I have tried all the fixes – sometimes they work, most times they don’t. Try, try, try again. Logged a call with Apple – they want to do a hard reset. After reading one post that this didn’t work either I am not keen to go thru it for nothing. On the home front my son is now happily chewing his way thru data on his mobile plan because he can’t be bothered to keep trying to connect to the home wifi $$$$$$$ Why can’t anyone help???

  11. Dean says:

    Easy 2 step process to fix:
    1) Open bin and throw forcefully.
    2) Go to store and buy a Samsung or HTC.
    I am totally over Apple. Even something simple like transferring images to a PC is a task unless drivers are installed. Now I can’t connect to any WiFi wtf???
    Seriously Apple… I use this in a business situation, it’s really not good enough.

  12. nc says:

    I can’t believe I fall victim to this problem this week as my new ipod touch 5G arrived last week and the home wifi worked good until this week, and especially today, that only within 2-3 meters to the router the network, e.g. skype call will work, and farther away, say in the kitchen, or bed room, wifi signal is 2 level or full(3 level) but noting can be loaded, neither webpage, nor appstore, none! My old ipod touch 4G at the same room works perfectly. So it must an IOS 6.01 issue + ipod touch 5 issue.

    Da** apple release such bad update!

    my router is Belkin btw.

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