Poor WiFi range

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Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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Aridzona
#1
My iPhone's WiFi range is not good. Anyone else have this issue?

As an example I have two WiFi laptops, one with good WiFi range the other not-so-good. But even the not-so-good laptop has better range than my iPhone.

I've only tested this at my home with a WiFi DSL modem/router (SpeedStream). I don't think it's my WiFi as my closest neighbor has a Linksys, which the iPhone doesn't see at all. The "good" laptop sees this just fine, and can even connect to it (gotta tell my neighbor about security). The other laptop usually can't connect, but does see the Linksys sporadically. Again, the iPhone has never once seen it.

To get an idea of the range I'm getting, I'd say I lose WiFi after about 20-30 feet. I would consider a repeater but I just don't think the range I'm getting should be normal. It seems more like Bluetooth range than WiFi.

For reference I had the DNS issue with this modem/router but fixed that by using my ISP's DNS IPs directly. I haven't actually connected to another WiFi network yet. I did see one today at lunch (expected to see more) but that was only from the computer store right next door (at least it was more than 30 feet away). Couldn't connect as it was secured.

So again, does anyone else have this issue of poor WiFi range with their iPhone? If this isn't normal I might have to return mine.


--
Mike
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#4
OK then it looks like I'm going to have to return this iPhone. My WiFi range seems to be getting even worse by the day.

I'm going to restore it and give it one more try before returning it.

One thing I've noticed is that I can see my AP, yet if the signal is only one "bar" (sometimes even two) the iPhone refuses to connect. But if I walk within 15' of the AP it connects, and I sometimes will stay connected just fine in the same area that it would connect from even after 10 attempts.

I wish I didn't have to return it since there are no AT&T company stores around here locally, and the nearest Apple store--where I'd probably go to exchange it--is about 2.5 hours away (and in Vegas right on the strip--lots of traffic around there).

Thanks much for your input.


--
Mike
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#5
Well I threw everything I could at this issue, without returning my iPhone, and have had some success.

I originally tried doing a restore via iTunes but that didn't seem to help. However, I also chose to restore from the last backup (done by iTunes) so I suspect that I didn't do anything.

So I decided to fight on two fronts: one, I did another restore, this time treating the iPhone as if it were brand-new.

I then decided, in case it's the crappy ISP-supplied DSL modem/router/WiFi combo that was the issue, that'd I'd resurrect another WiFi router I had sitting doing nothing. I didn't want to actually use it as a router so after fumbling around without directions I managed to get it into bridge mode so that my DSL modem still is in charge of DHCP and whatnot. This is an older MS "At Home" 802.11g router that I picked up on closeout a few years ago for like $15 (MS only made this stuff for 6 months IIRC).

Anyway after swapping WiFi routers, along with the full iPhone restore, I do have better range. Occasionally my neighbor's AP shows too. I rechecked the laptop that has not-so-good WiFi range and it still seemed a little better though. Still, I tested my iPhone around the house and it seemed to work "most" anywhere (didn't work in my garage or outside the house--on the far end of where the AP is located).

I should note that I finally gave in and just used a static IP, and my ISP's DNS addresses (not the router IP). This as opposed to only overriding DNS settings.

One strange thing that I encountered had to do with trying to get around the DNS issue without using static IPs. I tried entering something in Client ID and at first that actually worked: I was able to use the Net just fine even though the DNS IP was the router IP (which should work anyway--don't know how this bug made it into the wild). But when I tried it again, even after the full restore, entering anything in Client ID caused the WiFi radio to turn off, not matter how a left the screen (even when pressing Menu button). Even after clearing out Client ID I had a heck of a time just getting WiFi to work again (stayed on EDGE no matter what). That's when I decided to throw in the towel and just use static IPs all the way around.

Back to range again... Although it's much better now than before it still doesn't seem to be as good as what I've been hearing. So I'm now on the fence about returning it. I should note that it's also much better at switching between WiFi and EDGE than it was prior. Before I wasn't able to use WiFi in my bedroom even though WiFi showed 1-2 bars. Instead of switching to EDGE it would just error out. Now it seems to work in my bedroom with only 1 WiFi bar. Moreover, when I walked out to the garage and lost WiFi, in the middle of doing a weather update, the iPhone seamlessly switched to EDGE. Before, at least in my bedroom, it wouldn't switch to EDGE unless I turned WiFi off completely.

For reference the laptop with great WiFi range is an HP Pavilion running Vista and it's only about two months old. Does anyone perhaps have a similar laptop and an iPhone to compare WiFi range?

If you've read this far, thank you.


--
Mike
 
Jul 20, 2007
5
0
0
#6
Tinman, I can't tell you how pleased I was to see that I wasn't the only one grappling with this problem.

I have a G3 and a G4 mac laptop, and a first generation Airport Extreme running 802.11b/g optional with 128 bit WEP security. Both of my laptops receive wifi everywhere in my house, both first and second floors, and everywhere on my smallish lot (a bit less than 1/4 acre--not that small for the northeast). My iPhone doesn't receive wifi outside of my study, at least not for more than about 5 seconds. If I connect in my study, as soon as I walk more than 10 feet from the door and try to do something on the phone, the icon drops to 1-bar (1 dot?) and then it loses connection.

I've tried every setting on my old, old airport and it doesn't seem to help. I haven't called Apple service yet because it didn't seem like the kind of problem they'd be able to help with.

I need to figure out if it's the phone (there seems there might be some sort of a scattered bug from what I'm reading here) or if the phone would be fine with an upgraded router. I really don't know how to figure that out--maybe I'll head to the local Panera and see if I get the same effect. Of course, that won't tell me whether it's the router or the settings, but it'll eliminate the phone as the problem...

I'll keep reading, and post any results I figure out later. Thanks again for the information everyone.
 
Jul 20, 2007
5
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0
#7
After reaing this thread and the Apple forum on the Wifi issues, I think we're looking at two problems. One is a weird DNS problem that can be solved by manually inputting DNS server IPs, and is characterized by the phone showing network signal but not being able to access the internet.

The second problem appears to be the one I have, and I think tinman does, too, where the iPhone loses signal after connecting. I don't think that problem has anything to do with the DNS server, I think its purely a local network issue, which appears to be solvable by replacing the router (something I don't want to do). There's got to be another way...

There might even be a third wifi problem that's solved by resetting the phone and router, and telling the phone to forget your local network.

In other words, there are a lot of bugs with wifi that some early adopters are going to have to confront.
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#9
After reaing this thread and the Apple forum on the Wifi issues, I think we're looking at two problems. One is a weird DNS problem that can be solved by manually inputting DNS server IPs, and is characterized by the phone showing network signal but not being able to access the internet.

The second problem appears to be the one I have, and I think tinman does, too, where the iPhone loses signal after connecting. I don't think that problem has anything to do with the DNS server, I think its purely a local network issue, which appears to be solvable by replacing the router (something I don't want to do). There's got to be another way...
I sure hope so.

As an update WiFi seems to work acceptably around my house now. My iPhone doesn't match the range on my newer laptop, but it's very close to the one that is a few years old (both are 802.11g). I would probably not have not said anything about WiFi range problems had I not had the AP issues.

Also don't think my iPhone is defective from a hardware standpoint. The range I'm getting now seems inline with a power-conscious small device--a device without much room for an antenna. Still, I might be heading into Vegas anyway this weekend so if I do I'll compare to the demo iPhones at the Apple store. Would hate to find out later, after my return period is up, that my range is indeed sub-par.

For sure I can say I have experienced two different issues as far as WiFi is concerned: the first was related to the DNS IP address obtained via DHCP, a router issue for lack of a better term (i.e., not a wireless link problem per se: would probably happen even if the iPhone had an Ethernet jack). This issue can of course be worked around by using static IPs.

The second issue was with the AP itself. No matter what I did it did not play well with my iPhone. Symptoms in my case included extremely poor range, the inability to actually use the AP when it did show as in range, and the failure of EDGE automatically kicking in. Switching to a different AP seemed to solve this. Once I did lose signal in my house, rather far from the AP, but I hardly noticed it the transition to EDGE was so smooth. I was reading this forum actually, and happened to notice it loading a little slower than usual (though this Website seems to do OK as far as EDGE goes). Think it would have picked up WiFi again on its own, but I forced it by going into settings. Bingo, it was back to WiFi (the other AP would error out when trying to reconnect--until I was within 15 feet of it).

So, assuming my hardware is indeed typical, it would seem like the issues are software related. I hope this is addressed quickly as I wouldn't want to run into a public AP that is problematic. I could get around the DNS issue on my end, but if it's the range issue I don't anyone'll replace APs just for my iPhone. ;)


BTW: I use WPA for WiFi security and never experienced any trouble there. That actually went rather smooth on both APs.


--
Mike
 

pounce

New Member
Jul 20, 2007
25
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#10
just saying same here. on the deck of my house i have trouble with iPhone reception, but the two powerbooks my wife and i have love it. so the iPhone is the odd one out with regards to wifi reception. i've had it switch to edge both at work and home in places where the laptops got fine wifi coverage.
 
Jul 20, 2007
5
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0
#11
The second issue was with the AP itself. No matter what I did it did not play well with my iPhone. Symptoms in my case included extremely poor range, the inability to actually use the AP when it did show as in range, and the failure of EDGE automatically kicking in. Switching to a different AP seemed to solve this. Once I did lose signal in my house, rather far from the AP, but I hardly noticed it the transition to EDGE was so smooth. I was reading this forum actually, and happened to notice it loading a little slower than usual (though this Website seems to do OK as far as EDGE goes). Think it would have picked up WiFi again on its own, but I forced it by going into settings. Bingo, it was back to WiFi (the other AP would error out when trying to reconnect--until I was within 15 feet of it).​

That's EXACTLY my issue. I really don't use the 'net/Wifi features that much, so I'll be patient for what is sure to be a software update issue (I hope).

It's important all of us who have this issue let Apple know on its iPhone feedback page, though.

Here's the link:

http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#12
(I posted my feedback to Apple, thanks for that link.)

Another WiFi update...

Have been doing even better since I last posted. That fact, and some of the feedback in this thread (thanks!) has led me to believe it is extremely unlikely that there is anything wrong with my iPhone's WiFi, at least hardware-wise.

For one thing, I've compared it to my two laptops again (as far as WiFi range is concerned). The newer (and much larger) laptop still gets better range. But in closer testing I found my iPhone is about on par with my older/smaller laptop. In fact I did indeed successfuly connect to my neighbor's open WLAN when the older laptop could not. And it should be noted that the older laptop is an ultra portable.

I then did a little testing while I was out running some errands. In Staples it picked up a half dozen APs. Couldn't test them much as two were print servers, but I did connect to the main AP without issue.

I then tried at my local Hastings (music/video/books) and it connected fine. Surfed from out in the parking lot actually. I did run into the DNS issue though, but once I fixed that it was fine.

So the DNS issue looks like something you might need to be prepared for anywhere. I used my ISP's DNS addresses, which worked, but I'm going to grab the IPs from a few public DNS servers for the future (they are posted here somewhere).

The lack of range due to the AP compatibility issue? I'm hoping that is not very prevalent, but my limited testing out in the world is too brief to say for sure. As always, a fix from Apple would be preferred. Thankfully I didn't need to buy another WiFi router. I probably would have though if I didn't have a spare AP hanging around--I really like using my iPhone around the house with WiFi.

To summarize:

* I am certain I have no hardware issue regarding WiFi range.

* The DNS issue has to be addressed quickly. This one is gonna cascade soon if Apple doesn't do something ASAP.

* My iPhone did not like the AP I used for WiFi access at home. It connected, but range and reconnection issues made it nearly useless aside from the very room in which the AP was located. Switching to a different AP made a huge difference.

* If your iPhone's WiFi range is not quite, say, on par with a laptop you also use for WiFi--with the very same AP--then it is probably normal behavior. But if it is dramatically worse you might consider trying a different AP.


--
Mike
 

Macfreak7

New Member
Jul 24, 2010
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0
#13
I'm assuming you guys are all talking about the iPhone 4. If so, I'm having the exact same issue concerning poor WiFi range on the device.
I also have an iPad and a 1st gen iPhone. Not gonna bring in my MBP into the equation since it has a better wifi signal overall.
I've compared the wifi signal strength of the iPad, iPhone and iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4 has by far the worst signal/least number of wifi bars. I've tried this in three different locations with three different routers. 1. At home using an Airport Express, 2. At work using a Airport Extreme Base station, and 3. at a cousins where he had some sort of linksys or belkin router.. not sure. In some cases the iPhone 4 would not even see the base station whereas the iPad would show 2 bars and iPhone would show at least 1 bar.
This was all tried while laying the devices flat on the surface without touching them and it has nothing to do with the "deathgrip" effect.
Thoughts anyone?
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#14
Actually, this thread, now over three years old, was about the original iphone--less than a month after its release. :)

There were some serious issues early on; most all corrected in the first few firmware updates.

I now have an iPhone 4, and it has noticeably better range than my original iPhone, as well as my 3GS. With those iPhones I was never able to pickup my wifi in my second garage... the farthest place on my property from my WiFi router. My iPhone 4 works fine in that same garage.

That doesn't mean it matches my laptop's range, but it is markedly improved over its predecessors.



Michael
 

Macfreak7

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Jul 24, 2010
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#15
Actually, this thread, now over three years old, was about the original iphone--less than a month after its release. :)

*snip*

Michael
My bad for not checking the date, oddly enough it's the same issue i'm facing, but it doesn't seem as widespread. Maybe they'll just replace my unit if i bring it in?
 

Tinman

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Jul 16, 2007
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#16
Don't worry about the date. It was nice to go back to the beginning for a bit. :)

And, yes, they will exchange it for you if there is indeed a problem--which it appears you have. Good luck!



Michael