back to article Apple shrugs to iPad Wi-Fi problems

Apple has admitted that its iPad isn't very good at Wi-Fi, and suggests that customers having problems move nearer to their hotspot to get a signal. Most iPad owners seem happy with the device's Wi-Fi performance, but signal strength is a problem, as is reconnecting to networks which have the same name but operate on a …


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  1. Jeremy 2


    "Many routers offer 802.11b/g, and many now offer 802.11n too with the option to run the latter at 5GHz instead of the increasing crowded 2.4GHz band. While that might just seem like backwards compatibility it actually means the router is running two independent networks which happen to share the same name, and that's what gets the iPad confused."

    Erm. OK... My cheapo $40 wifi card can manage that just fine so how come Apple's $500 status symbol can't? Maybe that's what they mean by 'magical'?

    1. Coyote

      SSID hopping

      Your $40 wifi card isn't what handles it just fine, it is your OS that handles it fine (or not)

      WiFi is designed to roam across APs with different BSSIDs (MAC addresses) as long as they have the same ESSID (network name). That's why, for example, you can put 'attwifi' in your iPhone and it will auto-connect at any Starbucks.

      the issue is when you have your 2.4 and 5 Ghz networks named the same, but with different WPA keys. The iPad (and OSX, and Windows..) associate WPA keys to network name unless told to do otherwise. The solution, again, is to name the networks differently.

      The iPhone mostly didn't have this issue because it is 2.4 GHz only.

    2. chr0m4t1c

      And your point would be...?

      "My cheapo $40 wifi card can manage that just fine so how come Apple's $500 status symbol can't? "

      If you read the article again you may note that not all iPads are experiencing the problem. I have a laptop that exhibits this behaviour (or at least it did until I changed my router last year), so it's possible that this could be something as straightforward as people using routers that supposedly do 802.11n, but were actually on the market before the standard was finalised.

      My 1st generation PSP won't re-connect to a hidden Wi-Fi network (although it has no trouble during setup), whereas my friend's slightly later model has no trouble at all - this is using the same firmware BTW.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WiFi and end users

    WiFi and end users eh? Now there's a combination that doesn't mix.

    Even the simplistic "it just works" apple approach is too dificult for some.

    I'm no apple fan but I'd be completley floored if there was a problem with the iPad's Wifi.

    I mean come on, we all know it's gotta be idiot users....right?

  3. Mick F

    iWi-Fi booster?

    I bet there'll be a $200 addon coming soon!

  4. Richard Cartledge
    Thumb Down


    "check the router is switched on and consider moving closer to it."

    -Damn! I could kick myself, so simple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: D'oh!

      You scoff but it's actually not so simple, you also need make sure the iPad is switched on.

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Hundreds affected? big deal.

    Hundreds of users out of 300,000 owners.

    So if we take that to be 999 users out of 300,000 then 0.00333% of users are having problems. Why is this news?

    I would imagine more than 1% of users have lousy old WIFI routers at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I think you'll find it's 0.333 %

      Pedantic grammar Nazi alert as there's no arithmetic equivalent

    2. eezatehgeeza

      Try re-doing the math


      OK, not that much better!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Maths was never my strong point (actually it is)

      .. but not evidently yours.

      999 from 300,000 is 0.333%. I know still less than 1%, but a significant failure for a consumer product (unless you don't bother with Customer Care) and 100 times more than 0.0033%

    4. Dave Clarke 5

      Maths Check

      On my calculator (999/300000)x100 =0.33%. Still not a huge number, but a 100x more than you would have us believe.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Faulty maths

      It's actually 0.33% - you need to multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

      Small, still but an important distinction.

    6. Anonymous Coward

      err. still fail..

      out of those 300,000 ipads "sold" over 60% are stil on the shelf in the shops....

      so the actual numbers are close to 0.8325%

      If my company had a falure rate that high, i would be out of business sharp !!

      mines the one with the pocket full of broken thingymabobs...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Where do you get your stats?

        There are articles out there that say they're now over 500K in operation! Not sure where you got this "60% sitting on shelves".

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But Giles...

      .0033%? Think of the children! Sorry mate, Apple screwed the pooch on this one.

  6. Chris Waring


    So no good for multiple Wireless Access Points spread across the spectrum then?

  7. Code Monkey



  8. OffBeatMammal

    not just iPads and iPhones...

    my Mac Book Pro has similar issues. When it works... it's rock solid but sometimes getting it to try and reconnect in Starbucks to their WiFi (either in OSX or Bootcamp'd into Win7) requires toggling wifi on and off.... and it sometimes drops what seemed to be a perfectly good connection

    (BTW the Mac Book Pro is a pretty awesome Win7 machine after some additional keyboard remapping)

  9. Chris Hatfield

    It's a Rev 1 product, cut it some slack

    I have come to expect failure from Rev 1 products from Apple. Early adopters are basically beta testers.

    Having said that, it sounds like Apple aren't owning up to problems like they should.

    I'm also bitter the UK launch hasn't happened. Serves those darn yanks right ;D

    Not being able to get an internet connection is a 'showstopper' for many people. And with no 3G as a backup, you're screwed!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fuck off NO !!


      I come from an era when products were shipped working and we (public) were not considered to be beta testers!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Days of yore?

        Which era would that be? Days gone by, or days of yore? Days were competition was nothing like it is today when manufacturers produced products that latest for years, not months? Days when products were much simpler? Or days when consumers had no real outlet for bitching about the problems that were most likely in all those products too - you just didn't hear about them.

    2. James 47

      terrible attitude

      If they're flogging flawed Rev 1 products knowingly you'd think they'd at least offer a discount.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Are you serious?

      I'll dispense with the sarcasam, because every hardware and software vendor has dropped the ball at one time or another, but this is truly different. Spread Spectrum WIFI is not new technology and it's become such a common item that "little" issues like this from a company that overtly prides itself on being 'Better than the rest" is pretty damn sad, yet kind of funny.

      In my work environment, I transmit multiple SSID's over both 2.4 and 5 GHz freq's on each AP, if Apple's hardware can't tell the difference, especially in a WLAN that's been specifically designed to offer as much availability and flexibility as this one then it's way below a rookie mistake.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    No surprise to me

    I've got one of the new(ish) 32GB iPod Touches, supposed to be the same platform as the 3GS. I have never managed to get it to maintain a wifi connection for longer than 30s. I've tried just about everything but it's just not working with my router. Every other device I have is fine, just this one refuses to work properly. As a consequence it's useless for anything except locally stored media synced via iTunes, and so I hardly ever use it.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      iPod touch & WiFi

      I have a gen 1 iPod Touch, my wife has the 3GS version too. Hers suffers from bad WiFi. Mine was good, but now suffers too, since the last SW update.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      silly boy

      This would probably make you a retard then.

      Sounds like your ipod touch is malfunctioning.

      Take it back and get a new one?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      buy a new router

      and try that...

  11. John 104


    Apple could just fess up and admin that their wi-fi implimentation blows.

  12. Halloway
    IT Angle

    So it happens again

    Christ Almighty do Apple NEVER test their products? This sort of thing happens every time Apple release a 'new' product. Do they even bother beta testing or do they simply rely on their hordes of drooling, mouth-breathing fanbois to do the beta testing for them?

    1. chr0m4t1c


      Care to enlighten us to a high-tech product that has launched without *any* end-user problems?

      Sure, most of them don't get reported on, but I doubt you can name anything.

      Or are you simply one of the hoard of drooling, mouth-breathing haters?

      Do Apple test their products? Yes, same as other manufacturers.

      Do Apple buy every single Wi-Fi router that has ever been on the market and check that their device works with it? No.

      Do Apple buy every single device that has ever had a USB port to make sure their device could charge from it? No.

      Guess what? Neither do anyone else.

      My N97 doesn't charge from all of the USB ports on all of my machines, it doesn't connect faultlessly to any access point. Does that mean that Nokia didn't test it? No. The crappy version of the OS it shipped with might, though.

    2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      A reported failure rate of less than *1%* = "untested"?

      I bet you're the kind of idiot who blames Microsoft whenever an NVidia graphics driver falls over.

      The iPad uses an OFF-THE-SHELF WiFi chipset. The number of iPads sold is in the 300K area. The number of reports of WiFi problems?

      *Less than 1%*.

      That's pretty bloody good for *any* manufacturer. So, yeah, I'd say Apple DO test their products. No manufacturer can guarantee 100% that you won't get a dud, but just because a few loudmouthed whiners pipe up, that's no reason to assume *all* the iPads have failed.

      And now—drumroll please—for my own utterly gratuitous, and pointless, personal anecdote passing as "evidence":

      My iPod Touch works just fine with the shitty hotel WiFi I'm dealing with here. In fact, it's a bloody sight better at connecting to Swisscom's pathetic excuse of a hotspot than my laptop, which the server often point-blank refuses to even talk to.


    3. Anonymous Coward

      they do test.... but....

      they do test, but i bet they only test them for use with other apple kit... they expect most apple fanbois to only ever buy kit that st jobs has approved.

  13. whitespacephil

    Macbooks too

    As far as I'm concerned, they just write lousy WiFi drivers for their OS.


    I have a white MacBook. It's a beautiful machine, runs Windows 7 really well, with awesome driver support. However, as soon as I boot it up as a Mac, it has awful wifi issues with every router I've ever owner. Having owned it since Leopard, I prayed that Snow Leopard would sort it. It didn't. Nor any of the 10.6.x releases.

    Of course Apple just says that it must be my router. Well, my experience tells me differently. Works with Windows. Works with smartphones. Just not with MacOS.

    So it's a PC instead.

    1. Campbeltonian

      Re: Macbooks too

      I've had problems with the WiFi on my iPhone, mainly failing to join known networks when it comes into range. It's no big deal (I just reconnect manually), and pales in comparison to the problems I've encountered with multiple MacBooks.

      Connecting to the WiFi at work used to be a case of retry, retry, retry, dismissing all the timeout dialogs until finally it got a connection. Once it had the connection it was fine, but I couldn't put it to sleep (i.e. I couldn't close the lid) without having to go through the whole thing again.

      A friend of mine who also owned a MacBook had the same problem, with her WiFi access point at home.

      I had assumed that a fix had come along in a patch at some point, because I don't have this problem any more.

  14. James 47


    Somewhat unrelated but there's going to be more carnage with this standard as router manufacturers jumped the gun and started building routers beforethe spec was completely finalised.


  15. Christopher Slater-Walker

    Same old...

    Apple are no strangers to wifi problems, in my admittedly limited experience. I had a Cisco 1811W wireless router at home with 802.11b/g and a (i.e. 2.4GHz and 5GHz) simultaneously. I was using Cisco LEAP and WPA2 authenticating against a RADIUS server. While my WinXP machines would connect easily and solidly to either b/g or a, the MacBook had huge problems all the time. I eventually had to resolve it by using pre-shared key WPA2 just for the MacBook. WEP encryption worked just fine however, but there was no way I was going to use that (I know the potential problems with LEAP, before anyone tries to tell me, you just have to choose your passwords carefully). I'm not using that 1811W any more for wifi; interestingly, the MacBook connects just fine to a dedicated Cisco non-router access point.


    apple ipad problems

    well this is a great start isnt apple shrugs to this wifi problem and sugests people move closer to a wifi spot how the fuck can we do that when our wifi hot spots are on the street or do they mean the wifi spots in your home network ones on the street will be no good somone could twock the ipad off ya bloody exspensive junk whats the ipad purpose anyway is it ment to be a mini pc in your hand or a bigger version of the ipod or iphone no wonder apple are exspenive all its really for is the big fanbois out there thats all not everyone is apple fan mad i dont have any apple products in fact in my house i only have 1 apple product thats a ipod nano but thats me mothers not mine she bought it not me other than that i windows pcs and if apple is serious in taken away windows then there gonna have to bring there prices down

    1. Rattus Rattus

      Please, man,

      learn about punctuation. I feel out of breath just trying to read that.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @No surprise to me

    So your IPOD touch is useless for everything except it's primary IPOD features..... you must be really bummed by that.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Well yes actually, the audio quality of the iPod was surprising to me. Being used to only using phones as mp3 players I was expecting a dedicated device to have better quality. In fact it's worse, so much so that I don't use it for music. I was hoping to save a bit of battery by doing net stuff on the touch when away from my computers but I've mostly gone back to the phone for net and video use now. Anyway, waaaay OT and rather disappointed with my first iPod. Maybe I have a lemon and I should visit an apple store.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    I guess Apple will sue the wifi galatic confederation... at the end of the day, they for sure convince people they had invented wifi... magical! but that doesnt suprise me, seing how many dont-know-where-to-spend-my-money-in-a-stupid-device people are buying that "thing"

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Apple are using the IT CROWD answering machine

    Hello IT...


    Have you tried turning it off and on again?


    Is it plugged in?


    You're welcome

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @ Halloway

    And-----CONGRATULATIONS! You win Ridiculous Post of the Day Award! Thanks for playing!

    Every product ever released by every manufacturer has issues. This particular one is no worse than any other--in fact, in comparison with most, it really does seem insignificant, given that actual numbers suggest only very few users experience it. The work-arounds are easy, effective, and straightforward, and Apple will have an OS fix in place in short order--as is usual with Apple, as I'm certain you haven't noticed.

    So--wipe up your own puddle of drool, stop breathing through your mouth, and get over yourself.

  21. IR


    Apple also suggest that if you want the screen to appear larger, move your face closer to it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    wifi compatibility

    Both my Iphone 2G and Dell laptop had extreme difficulty maintaing a connection to a Linksys SRX router a few m away, even in standard G mode, with updated drivers/firmware, etc etc - while a HP laptop happened to work perfectly.

    Swapped it for a basic Netgear G unit, and now all devices work perfectly.

    Stick with a basic router without any non-standard proprietary crap like SRX and you will be fine... or even better, choose one that can be upgraded with 3rd party firmware, which is usually updated far more often.

  23. gautam
    Paris Hilton

    Happens all the time !

    Halloway, you are wrong. Its not only Apple who release products half tested. Dont forget, Windows Vista was the biggest beta tester ever in the history of the world. AS some NewZealander described it " as the longest suicide note in hsitory". And its dead now.

    So dont always pick on Apple.(im nofanboi though)

    Paris,cos she's no Beta anymore !

    1. Neill Mitchell

      Archos anyone?

      You think Apple are bad, try buying a first gen Archos device. Unusable. They expect their paying customers to alpha test their expensive products.

      Unfortunately this seems to becoming the norm. Consumers need to vote with their feet (as many Archos customers have).

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Apple. They just work.

    Except they don't.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's not OUR problem!

    "If that's your problem then Apple recommends renaming the networks, thus allowing the iPad to remember which is which"

    Or they could just fix their shit!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Oooh just watch the contortions !!

    It's hilarious watching the Apple fanbois twist themselves into a pretzel to convince themselves , and anyone who'll listen, that not only is this not a real problem , but if it is everyone suffers from it ( but only in a secret way that they don't seem to notice )

  27. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    iPhone Wifi

    I was literally sitting above my Apple router last night when my iPhone 3G Wifi (which I was using heavily) became progressively more unreliable, dropping connection every few minutes before eventually failing to find it at all. No b/g/n router, just 2.4Ghz 80211g, no microwaves or DECT phones nearby and only 3 other networks in dim view of my laptop - test conditions were almost ideal.

    Turning it off and on didn't help, but as widely reported, leaving the phone to cool down for a bit by turning it off did the trick. It's almost certain the iPhone issue is some kind of thermal thing - this one sounds like it might be a different issue.

    1. Inachu

      No same issue correct!

      I had my ipad on overnight to play streaming shoutcast and the battery went from 100% to when I woke up at 74% and the Ipad was still not hot at all. it felt room tempature,. Virtually no heat at all.

  28. Kar98


    ... an antenna (aerial, for y'all) encased in a metal case is having problems with RF reception? Whatever could be the problem here?

    My Acer netbook with its plastic case sees many more networks than the aluminium Mac mini. I do wonder why.

  29. Faye

    Actually tried it?

    I've been wandering around work today on an 802.11g network and performance was similar to a laptop in the location. I didn't go lower than a full signal. I also used a MiFi on the train with no problems. I will get to try a .11n network when I get back home.

    The case back is all aluminium which probably means it works as well as a Macbook Pro in these locations. The 3g model will have a plastic area where the antennas are which might improve things for people with reception issues.

  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    poor reception is a problem

    @Giles Jones, don't be such a fanboi. These are the people that had enough problems to complain about it, mere days after release. Design flaws and bugs shouldn't be ignored just because they don't affect a major percentage of users.

    The dual network problem -- I say BFD, it is bad practice to have networks in an area with the same SSID but different keys. Perhaps Apple should give an option to set the channel, but that's really not "the Apple way" so I doubt they'll do it. (To me this takes control out of the user's hands, to Apple fans this makes things more simple.)

    The poor reception? Big problem. Apples have been known for bad reception for quite a long time though so it should be no surprise -- putting antennas inside a metal case just doesn't work well (Macbooks, iPhone, ipod touch, etc...). Apple fans just think it's normal to get the range they do, unless they compare it to something else and realize the range is actually rather poor.

  31. werrington


    I have 2 routers with the same name, tom and thomas, will it be able to tell the difference?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      As of v4.0 update, all APs must be renamed Steve.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Portable hotspot

    No problems using my iPod Touch or any other WiFi enabled device, as long as there is a 3G signal available. I carry a Novatel MiFi with me.

  33. OrsonX
    Jobs Horns

    "third-party dual-band WiFI routers" to blame (apparently)

    3rd party routers!!!!

    You must upgrade to an AirPort extreme for your iPad to be functional, or....

    .....turn the screen brightness up!!! LOL!!!!

    1. Danington the Third


      ...isn't it.

      "our device is fine, it's your inferior router that every other wireless device in the world can access perfectly. Peasant"


      Sent from my iPad

  34. Sly

    I've had the same problem with other stuff

    when the internal antenna leads get disconnected from the wifi card. damaged in shipment due to "drop" shipping? Take it to your local apple store and have them re-attach the wonky antenna leads and apply more tape to keep them held in place. seen in ifixit's tear down at step 19...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear iPad users,

    If you're having trouble using WiFi, may I suggest buying a house with thinner walls?


    Steve Jobs.

    1. Ben Holmes
      Thumb Up

      Buy a new house

      "It's not that big a deal..."

  36. Inachu

    END USER ERROR - this is not a ipad issue at all.

    I have been through over 7 Linksys wifi routers and upgraded to a newer linksys router each time a new one came out and I thought a new version would be free of bugs the previous ones had and each and every linksys wifi router I have ever owned

    from A,B,G,N series compatible all had the following problem:

    Connection problems

    Resetting the wifi router at least once a day every week.

    Changing the channels for better signal all the time.

    putting more rubber feet on the bottom so it sits up higher for cooler air.

    But I got so sick of the quality problems I am no longer a linksys fanboy.

    I read and read for 2 weeks and went with a D-Link extreme N and after 3 years I only had to reset it 4 times.

    So using my ipad with my d-link extreme N wifi router I have ZERO issues.

    1. magnetik

      Same Here

      Had my fair share of Linksys routers, all had some problems with WiFi, despite constant firmware updates to fix bugs. My D-Link is superb though, and works fine using the firmware it came with :-)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So it not Apple fault but IEEE and there 802.11 standard! That why iPad WiFi is naff!

    alright ;)

    I wonder if HP Slate would have same problem to.

  38. Simon B

    you're so close u may as well use cables! btw u plugged in?!


    the advice is to check the router is switched on (DOH!! I KNEW I'd forgot something!)

    and consider moving closer to it (Ooooh I'm so close I may as well use a cable, what's the point of wireless again?!)

    /end sarcasm

  39. Lotus 80
    Jobs Halo


    ...not that big of a deal.

  40. Anthony2799

    Apple binoculars

    If your Apple binoculars don't provide the expected magnification, try standing closer to the subject you wish to view.

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