Oplossing voor WiFi "werkt niet" op iPhone 2G?

Oplossing voor WiFi "werkt niet" op iPhone 2G? discussie in Wi-Fi forum; ( verdwijnt na registratie ) Ik heb de al maanden niet werkende WiFi op mijn iPhone 2G weer aan de praat gekregen! Ik heb daarover een stukje geschreven, maar wel ...

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Standaard Oplossing voor Wi-Fi "werkt niet" op iPhone 2G?

Ik heb de al maanden niet werkende Wi-Fi op mijn iPhone 2G weer aan de praat gekregen! Ik heb daarover een stukje geschreven, maar wel in het Engels (zodat het beschikbaar is voor "all"). Ook ben ik al over op FW 3.1.3. (ook jailbroken en unlocked). Misschien is het ook iets voor anderen. Inmiddels heb ik al wel een iPhone 3GS (FW 3.1.2.), omdat die oude het dus al maanden niet deed.
Korte samenvatting: heb je niet met FW, SW, apps, fixes oplosbare Wi-Fi problemen, dan heb je waarschijnlijk een mechanisch probleem, en dat is soms oplosbaar.

iPHone 2G Wi-Fi problem

Note: This article is not about Wi-Fi failing on an iPhone 3G or later in the case of some jailbreak/unlock, where it could be solved by applying a special SW fix which then would actually work. This is about Wi-Fi failing on iPhones (2G) where nothing seems to help, FW or SW or app fix wise.

I bought my iPhone 2G 16GB in May 2008 in an Apple Store in Albuquerque, USA. It was with FW 1.1.4 out of the box and before I crossed the border it was jailbroken and unlocked with ZiPhone successfully. It worked flawlessly with many SIM cards during
my travels through Europe. When FW 2.2.1. came out, I upgraded (not installed new!) without any problem. Somewhere in the second half of 2009 I started having problems with Wi-Fi not connecting and eventually not connecting at all. All other functions worked still flawlessly, including Bluetooth with the three bluetooth carkits I have in use. But for browsing the internet it became virtually useless. In February 2010 I bought a new iPhone 3GS and put the iPhone 2G aside, using it only abroad for calling
(I would not use data anyway abroad). So far I had not found ANY proper solution to the problem, even though many forums by now were filled with similar cases, all claiming various causes, but never with a reproduceable solution or logical cause.

That started to bug me a lot. Not so much because of alleged Apple conspiracies around this problem, but because I am an electrical engineer and logic must prevail.

Symptoms: no Wi-Fi access points visible, or, if visible no connection possible.

Like many others I first would think it had something to do with the new FW or the jailbreak or a Cydia app or the unlock mechanism or any combination of these. However, I could never wrap my head around it, because all logic in the many forum entries seemed completely lost on me: - It is not logical to think that a new FW could cause this. It would immediately exhibit problems on all iPhones, not after a while or only on some of them. Downgrading anew would solve it then, but it didn't: many people restored their device (judging from the forums around the world) but the Wi-Fi problem remained. So clearly it would not be FW (I never went further than 2.2.1, even when 3.0 etc. were released, except for lately after solving the problem, I went to 3.1.3);
- It is not logical to think that an app could cause this, since it would exhibit problems also immediately, not after a while: SW is buggy or not: if buggy and removed the problem should go away: but the problem did not go away
- It is not logical to think that it had anything to do with the battery inside, since I did not have any problems before with power, nor did I have any power problems, while the problem occurred (I actually replaced the battery, but no Wi-Fi).
- Mysteriously, resetting network settings would give -in some cases- briefly visibility, but never a connections long enough to do anything with it, usually just a few seconds and then it would disappear (I presume some FW procedure to "learn", starting from high power, what power setting for Wi-Fi to use, not allowing high power all the time, since it would drain the battery like crazy, hence stopping to see Wi-Fi soon after).
- Some people reported cooling it down would help (freezing it) for a while. Now, this makes some sense, I'll come back to that later.
I even tested that, just to confirm some of my suspicions.
- It is not logical to think that the unlock has something to do with it. Again it would exhibit the problem or not upon utilisin the unlock, whereas my iPHone works flawlesly with any SIM card, just the Wi-Fi does not work
- It is not logical to assume that some kind of software could "fry" the Wi-Fi chip somehow. This was claimed by many who moved over to FW 3.0, but I never did. I stayed with 2.1.1 and I would all of a sudden have the Wi-Fi problem anyway. In my whole carrier (now well over 20 years) I never seen an actual case of SW frying up chips, only heard stories without any proof. If a FW is badly designed, it is almost always discovered before release: Apple can not afford to have such a faulty FW after release.

This really started to bug me, because none of the alleged causes or solutions made any sense to me. I was however not able to investigate in more detail, until recently.

As an electrical engineer I know from experience (the hard way) that 99% out of 100% problems with consumer electronics have a mechanical background rather than a electrical (incl. software) one. This explains, why after disassembling a device and reassembling it, without altering anything, the device works again in some cases.
So logic dictated that some kind of mechanical failure would cause the Wi-Fi problems. But for this I needed to disassemble the iPhone 2G, which turned out to be easier said than done.
I won't bore you with the details of how to open it (just look at e.g.
www.ifixit.com) without causing damage, because I don't think that is even possible.
I believe the iPhone 2G was obviously designed as disposable, based on the fact that almost all manufacturers of mobile devices use a product life cycle for their products seemingly less than a year, typically a max of 9 months. Almost all mobile devices in the product portfolio are therefore replaced within 6 to 12 months, Apple is not an exception.

After opening it, several things became clear, from a mechanical standpoint of view, amongst which:
- The inside is very rigid: all parts are very well and especially tight bolted
together, not leaving any chance for a part to move about when any impact occurs on the device. This also means there is no buffer for absorbing any impact and all energy from any impact is transferred to all parts inside, with the exception maybe of the camera (in rubber) or maybe the battery (there is about 1 to 2 mm around it, plus the outside of the battery is semi-soft). It becomes therefore unclear what could be affected when damaged inside after e.g. being dropped;
- Some antennae wires are visible. They are coaxial and have tiny little connectors, four in total. They are being kept in place by some sort of gluey substance. These connectors form a very typical point of failure in general and the first thing I would have to look at. After making sure it would not be possibe to start the device up accidentally, even
though the battery would still be connected, I very carefully removed the gluey substance and disconnected the antennae connectors. Then I would test the wires (with a multi-meter) for shortcuts and other misery. Nothing seemed wrong with dc current, even though some minor damage to the wires was apparent. So, theoretically, for high frequencies there could be a problem. But, like I said, let's first look into purely
mechanical failures. At this time I must admit that I had dropped the iPhone 2 times in total, not breaking the glass, but now very suspicious what internal damage I could find. Also, I must state that by now I had released and removed all screws inside the iPhone, including the ones holding the logic board and communications board sandwich in place. I also removed the stainless steel edge completely. After that, I cleaned
the connectors (carefully!), reattached them and reattached the camera and wires to the backshell as to make it possible to switch it on. After switching it on and holding it loosely together (this cannot be recommended to anyone without some engineering experience and a proper antistatic workbench), and resetting the network
settings, it immediately found my two access points in the house to which a then proceeded to connect successfully. Mind you: that wouldn't work for months now. Still not convinced that that would be the only problem, I applied very carefully some force upon the sandwich board and sure enough, Wi-Fi would disappear, but reappear after releasing the force. This could be reproduced.

The conclusions so far:
- mechanical failure is the cause of the Wi-Fi problems! (So not FW, unlock or apps or any combination thereof)
- it is not clear whether it is a microfarcture in the sandwich board, effecting the communications board and the lead to the coaxial connector for Wi-Fi (the one closest to the top), or very bad coaxial connectors in the first place that with any small force would not allow the center wire to connect properly, causing the antenna not working properly.
- I found two screws, whwre the counterparts were broken off from their base. This was not caused by opening the case up, but appeared this way. Since the iPhone is so tightly put together, it now also becomes clear that upon reassembling it, it might not might not work again, since it is unknown where exactly the mechanical failure occurs causing some form of disconnection. So again, some kind of elimination process would be in order. First I purchased a brand new set of antennae wires (yes, you can buy them actually, I bought them locally for 9 euro's, but one can order them from Hong Kong for as little as 2 euro's, including sending cost(!), but then wait several weeks for it to be delivered (e.g. www.dealextreme.com)). I tested them and then temporarily replaced
them with the original ones, without actually removing the old ones (again, with an open case). I was hoping the new connectors would have a tighter fit. Alas, after the same tests, the results were exactly the same. This lead me to believe that there must be some kind of microfracture in the PCB board of the sandwich. Since this part
is extremely and prohibitively expensive to replace (al least for me it is), not to mention the SW problems to solve in the baseband afterwards) I looked into a way to reassemble the iPhone in such a way that I would still have Wi-Fi. I succeeded, but not after several iterations, further damaging the case of course, since I now had to reclose and reopen it several times to test the stress on the parts exerted.
I ended up leaving two screws out entirely: the two lower screws holding the sandwich board in place, and putting two very small rubber pieces over both Wi-Fi connectors holding them tighly in place by pressure from the backshell. My iPhone 2G is now working again with Wi-Fi already for some days in a row, allthough I must admit that reported signal strenght is lower then on my iPhone 3GS at the same time (this could be a mere difference in FW displaying bars for Wi-Fi).

End conclusion:
- Dropping the iPhone, if not breaking the glass, almost certainly breaks something inside, because the iPhone has no mechanical buffer (or open space) inside, causing all impact energy to be forcefully absorbed by some parts inside, not predictable which ones (so, replacing broken glass could leave you still with a not working iPhone);
- Many people have reported Wi-Fi failure with their iPhone 2G and even though it is not known whether they dropped it or any proof is visible on the outside of such an event, due to the extreme tight built, even a relatively small impact could cause damage inside in the form of cracks in parts, e.g. in some PCB, causing that part to malfunction in a sometimes not very predictable way or only under certain circumstances, like temperature or humidity. The latter explains that some people could get Wi-Fi for a while after cooling it down: it changes the physical properties
of parts inside, e.g. tightening coaxial grip on some connector that came partly loose.
- Since there are no reproduceable solutions known on internet to the Wi-Fi problem with iPhones 2G, utilising any combination of FW, unlock, apps or alike, as many thousands reported to have, the only logical conclusion is that it is most likely mechanical failure causing it (as is so often the case in engineering land).

Personal note:
- I cannot recommend to open up any iPhone 2G. If Wi-Fi is not working (in the way many people describe), I am sure it is internal mechnical damage that causes it, from anywhere as simple as a loose coaxial connector or more complicated as a micro crack in a PCB. It simply means the iPhone is a total loss. The fact that this can happen so easily is of course something Apple surely knows but keeps a tight lid on, since this is not mentioned on the internet or anywhere else. It is after all a form of
built in factory mistake (by wrong mechanical design) that could eventually and theoretically lead to huge claims in some joint action. I am not going that way, but I'd think twice before buying one more iPhone, especially one that seems even tighter than the iPhone 2G (like the iPhone 4) or any very small form factor smart phone, unless you want to spend a huge amount of money for something that could fail any moment and then being given a run around, since problems are not reproducable or come
and go randomly when first appearing and hence not solved by the supplier. These phones simply cannot handle any stress and we have to live with this or move over to something more sturdy.

first posted on www.iphoneclub.nl

tags: iPhone,iPhone 2G,Wi-Fi,problem,no connection,antenna wires
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