Wi-Fi complaints prompt Apple to replace some 3rd-gen iPads

Apple is replacing third-generation iPads whose users report Wi-Fi connectivity problems, apparently as part of a full-scale investigation of this problem, according to the 9to5Mac Website.

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The report is based on what appears to be a confidential internal Apple document, from its AppleCare customer support group. The document, reproduced at 9t05Mac, says that "symptoms can include, but are not limited to: intermittent connectivity, slow WiFi speeds, and WiFi network not seen."

Tablets with these problems are being "captured" which, according to an unidentified source in the news story, means being collected and shipped to an appropriate Apple site for diagnosis.

There have been a range of Wi-Fi complaints since the new iPad began shipping, though it's difficult to accurately assess how widespread, or severe, the problems actually are. A thread at Apple's online Apple Support Communities has over 700 posts as of this writing, but not all of those are complaints. The first complaint is from March 17, followed swiftly by a numerous others.

The issues cited are frequent loss of connections, limited range, and low bandwidth, compared to the users' experiences with the first and second generation iPads.

"I had an ipad1 and no problems, ipad2 and no problems, ipad3 wifi is WEAK," posted It_caveman on March 18. "Settings are the same as the ipad2. I am running an iPhone 4s and an i7 MacBook air on the same routers." He later posted range comparisons for iPad 2 and the new tablet: "I've done some measuring on range iPad2 out to about 75ft before dropping to 2 bars and out to 100ft and still get 1 to 2 bars. ......... iPad3 out to 35ft before dropping to two bars and at 45 to 50 ft you're down to one bar."

"Same here! Will not hold WIFI for more than a few minutes," posted Sully2003.

"Two MacBooks and iPhone working fine from same router. Ready to return iPad!!!!!"

"Way too many crashes already and iPad claiming to be offline in exact same spot iphone4 is working just fine," wrote thecountrymike. "On the upside ... those error messages look pretty on that fancy new retina display. I have the world's most attractive paperweight. Hooray."

Some users reported that Apple staffers at retail stores re-flashed the iPad's "firmware," apparently the entire operating system.

"Yep, that is what Apple did for me - worked great - for about 5 days, then started happening again, so now a week later I've reset my router DIR-655 to "[802.11]g" only so that it sorta works," posted Loni Berreth, on April 4, in response to one user who reported the same fix. "Hope you have better luck a week from now."

Others are baffled by low bandwidth. "I have a 35Mbps feed from Verizon FiOS and a brand new Airport Extreme and should be able to have blazing speed, but whenever I try to use a SpeedTest app I can't get above 5Mbps," wrote roboquaker, on April 5. "I also lose the signal all of the time and need to shift around the iPad on my bed or couch."

According to the Apple document in the 9to5Mac story, the Wi-Fi problems are found in the Wi-Fi only models of the new tablet. But on the Apple Support forum, several users who have the optional 4G radio also say they, too, are running into Wi-Fi problems.

"I have 2x (new) iPad 64GB wi-fi & 4G," posted Specimen001 on April 5. "Got them the week they were released and both have very bad wi-fi performance."

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