iPad WiFi Woes: Slow WiFi with iOS 4.2.1?

While the iOS 4.2.1 update brought to the iPad a slew of long awaited features such as folders and multitasking, the new version of the OS also introduced a number of bugs impacting a sizable number of iPad users.

WiFi connectivity seems to be one of the main areas of contention between iPad users and Apple, as many users are reporting extremely low Wi-Fi performance, on a variety of access points, including some versions of Apple branded wireless hotspots.

If you’re experiencing the issue and need some help, a specific thread can be found on Apple’s support forums – be prepared to do a lot of reading, as the topic already has almost 700 replies!

Here are some of the most commonly suggested fixes:
- Restart your WiFi router
- Reboot your iPad (hold home and sleep buttons at the same time until you see the Apple logo)
- Delete your iPad WiFi settings, and reconfigure your iPad
- Update your WiFi router with the latest available firmware
- If your router supports 802.11n, try to switch from 802.11g to 802.11n, or vice-versa

At this stage, it is hard to tell how widespread the problem is, but given the number of posts on Apple’s forums, the issue seems fairly common. Apple has not officially acknowledged the problem, and iPad users may have to wait until the release of iOS 4.3 – scheduled for later this year, or early next year – before the issue gets fixed.

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  • John C

    Def an issue that needs attention. Slow YouTube videos is another topic

  • TRP

    Wifigate is likely affecting far more users than Antennagate ever did. 30% of over 4000 responders so far on the tuaw poll!

    And because for many it is just a major slowdown, rather than complete dropping of wifi, it may even be undereported.

    Also, it’s not just on the iPad. The other ios 4.2.1 devices are affected.

  • WAM

    Yeah, YouTube has always sucked on my iPad. Pretty much unusable even ‘though Netflix iPad streams fine over the same connection. The same YouTube works fine on my netbook over the same Wifi so it is clearly the iPad.

  • Alok

    Same here. Wifi connection is awfully slow.

  • Paul L’Orange

    No issues with mine. However I did buy a new cisco 48port wireless router for the house in November

  • Sheepdog327

    Try all of these – mine started working after I performed 06.
    As usual, your mileage may vary.

    01) – Set router to fragmentation=2048, RTS=512
    02) – Disable router 40Mhz, use only 20Mhz
    03) – Change router from 5 Mhz to 2.4 Mhz
    04) – Disable N router standard
    05) – Use WPA or WPA2 (2 seems better) instead of WEP
    06) – Use TKIP instead of AES or BOTH security in router
    07) – Disable bluetooth in iPad
    08) – Check nearby routers for channel conflict
    09) – Router firmware update
    10) – Reset/cold boot router
    11) – Reset network settings on iPad
    12) – Cycle iPad power off and on (fails on wake from stby)
    13) – Redownload adn reinstall the 4.2.1 update
    14) – Set iPad DNS to 8.8.8.8 & 8.8.4.4 (Google DNS?)
    15) – SetiPad autobrightness to off or away from lowest setting
    16) – Assign iPad a fixed IP address (don’t use DHCP in router)
    17) – Turn off “ask to join networks” on iPad
    18) – Turn off notifications in iPad
    19) – Adjust QOS (google for settings)

  • TRP

    If you did number 04 before 06, and forgot to reenable 802.11n, I suspect that is really what has given you your particular “fix”. Your network is now running at circa 2003 speeds.

    If enough people follow your list we could end up going back in time, which sounds cool, but isn’t really in this case.

    Can you reliably reproduce the problem by setting your router back to its previous security setting? And then fix it again by going to TKIP? I am wagering not.

    • Sheepdog327

      To TRP

      I did each one at a time, but not in that order – I went for the low hanging fruit first. Reboots, etc.
      Then I did the 01), 02) and 03).
      Security in the router seemed like the next easiest thing to quickly adjust so I did that next and it fixed my problem.

      I never took my router off N, and I would really be irritated if that was required to make it work. That would be a workaround but not a fix.
      I can imagine that some who’ve had success with dropping N have either 1. a security problem that works when using G, or 2. a router that doesn’t quite conform to the bug in 4.2.1 or 3. something else that hasn’t been clearly established yet (thought I’m pretty certain that Apple knows pretty accurately what’s going on.

    • Sheepdog327

      Also, I tested and retested several times. Any time AES or AES with TKIP was selected, it failed. With TKIP I got appropriate speeds.

      Still, I also noticed intermittent dropdowns of the signal – especially the upload side – so I’m thinking the problem is still there, just not as bad with TKIP and I can use the iPad – which I could not without this change.

  • Kirk

    On mine, I can reliably switch from poor performance to good performance (and vice versa) merely by switching from the “primary” network to the “guest” network on my Airport Extreme.

  • djk

    This wifi issue has made my ipad about 50% less useful. Is there a way to downgrade back to the earlier version of the OS?

  • http://Padgadget.com Drew

    Hi have you heard about the iOS 4.2 upgrade changing the power out put for the camera connection kit, they reduced the power from 100ma to 20ma. I have the 64 gig wifi iPad and recently brought the blue yeti USB microphone that apple sells on their web site to record my band practices. Rios 3.2.2 powered my microphone and the recordings sounded great! I was so excited about the new iOS 4.2 that I didn’t wait to see if there would be problems, now I cannot go back to 3.2.2 apple will not allow it and my 140.00 dollar mic. Can not be used. There are professional photographer that can not use the iPad for their on location shoots because the card readers no longer work! Could you look into this for us? Thanks.