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iPhone's Wi-Fi problems cause heated speculation

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iPhone users who found their Wi-Fi failing after the last firmware upgrade are starting to identify what went wrong, while some have managed to get Apple to replace iPhones with handsets that have never seen 2.2.1.

The damage caused by the upgrade is irreversible, rolling back to a previous version does not fix the problem, while a spell in the freezer or using an almost-dead battery does get Wi-Fi working again temporarily - confirming that the problem is heat related.

Not that everyone is seeing the issue, which only seems to be affecting older 2G and 3G iPhones. The hypotheses is that the Wi-Fi chip has been throttled back until now, but the firmware version 2.2.1 removes the restriction and causes overheating in older units. Sticking the iPhone in a fridge gets things working again, for a while, but rolling back the firmware does not.

One poster to the Apple forum even reports being told to get a replacement handset under warranty, but to specifically ask for one that had not been upgraded to 2.2.1.

"Just got off the phone with an Apple representative who didn't hesitate at all to make an appointment for me at my local Apple Store for a replacement iPhone with the note to NOT have the 2.2.1 OS installed."

The problem has been obfuscated by users having unrelated wi-fi problems, such as those who need to configure their router properly, to the point where the discussion forum has been forked. The focus of the new discussion is whether the damage is physical in nature, or if the new firmware contained an upgrade to the Wi-Fi driver that isn't being rolled back with the firmware: Apple is being as unresponsive as ever.

If it's a firmware issue then perhaps a patch could be issued to re-throttle the Wi-Fi and get things working again, but it hardly seems fair to leave customers guessing if a problem is fixable. As Reg reader Scott Wilson, who's been working on the problem since it started, put it:

"I'm OK with apple telling us we've fried them and giving us at least some diag help, but just hoiking another £400 from us [for a new iPhone] is a tad brutal. My worry as a returning customer is that in 13 months I have the same problem again which is why the matter is not closed."

Not that Scott is considering an alternative handset. Despite the problems, the utility of the iPhone means that fans will put up with an awful lot of silence from the boys in Cupertino. ®

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