Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wi-Fi-less


This is how my weekend started.

I got home from work on Friday and checked in on FourSquare on my iPhone (ya, I added my home) :) I noticed that I wasn't connected to my home Wi-Fi. It happens sometimes. I launched the Wi-Fi configuration and it didn't show any Wi-Fi networks in my neighbourhood. There are usually at least 5 or 6 of them.


I toggled the Wi-Fi off and back on again. Nothing changed. I toggled Airplane mode on and off. Still nothing. I turned the phone off and back on again. Nada.

This is where things got really ugly. When I went back into the Wi-Fi settings I found... oh wait... I couldn't get back into the Wi-Fi settings. It was disabled.

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I hopped onto Google and discovered that this is actually a fairly common problem. For most people, it seems it happened right after updating to iOS 6.0.1, and it only happens with the 4S and iPad 3. Some say it can happen after dropping your phone. There are many different suggestions (including something called "the freezer trick?)

I tried some of the more sane suggestions, like resetting network settings. Resetting all settings. Nothing.
This is the point where I began to hate technology. I used to thrive on technical problems. I found them a challenge. That's why I once had a job in technical support. Those days are long gone. My years in technical support wore me down.

Back to my phone. I did more searching and found that I may have to do a restore to factory defaults. I did not want it to get to that, but what other choice did I have?

I first made sure I had a backup in iTunes and then started the process. It downloaded the latest firmware (6.0.1), which I had already installed and it proceeded to install it.

Once it was done, the phone setup started and it asked me to connect to my Wi-Fi. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was as happy as I should have been. If this happened once, what are the chances it would happen again? I went through the setup and chose the option to restore all of my data from the backup. I started that and set the phone down to do its thing.

At some point during the restore I noticed that it was no longer connected to my Wi-Fi again. I went back into the Wi-Fi sett... disabled, again.

By now I'm on my 2nd or 3rd beer.

I decided to once again restore it to the factory defaults, but I was prepared to not restore my data. I was secretly hoping that it wouldn't work because I didn't want to lose my data.
It didn't work. Wi-Fi was still disabled.

I recalled that when we bought our iPhones, the Telus rep told us that for support we'd have to deal directly with Apple. But the Telus trouble-shooting web site said to call Telus, or visit one of their stores. So I called them.

I explained the situation and the tech had me check a few things and told me that I'd have to contact Apple. I questioned why the web site said I can go to their store and she said that was if I wanted them to send my phone back to Apple for me and/or if I wanted a loaner until I get the replacement. Seriously... what's the point?

Anyway, she transferred me directly into Apple's phone queue. After about 5 minutes listening to hold music, the tech came on. Once again, I explained my predicament. She walked me through checking a few things (or trying to) I mentioned that it appeared to be a common problem that was hardware related. She agreed that she did find the same article on the web and asked if she could put me on hold while she consulted with her supervisor.

A few minutes later she returned to say that her supervisor confirmed that they have seen the issue and the only solution is to replace the phone, which she said she could arrange to do since it was still under warranty.

So now I await the replacement, which will have a box and information to send the old one back to them. She said it would take 3-5 days.

I suppose I could have called up an Apple store and made an appointment to see someone there and maybe get it swapped out.

I didn't bother restoring all of my data back onto my semi-functional phone. It's going to suck the life out of my provider data plan if I keep using it without Wi-Fi.

It's a little disconcerting to know that there's a chance it could happen again, or even to my wife's phone, and there is no other official solution (yet?) other than swap the phone. I wonder what would happen if it was out of warranty? I mean, this doesn't sound like something that occurs with age, it could happen at any time.

Here are some articles about the problem:

http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/28/3422024/ios-6-disabled-wifi-issues
http://www.zdnet.com/apples-ios-6-wi-fi-problems-linger-on-7000004799/
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/092512-ios6-wifi-262787.html
http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1559

And the long thread in Apple's community forum:

https://discussions.apple.com/message/19619592#19619592

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