Fix Grayed Out iPhone WiFi

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iPhone with grayed out WiFi

A few iPhone users experience WiFi problems after upgrading to iOS 6.1.3. The issue is quite serious and severe — WiFi does not work at all and is grayed out, indicating that the feature is disabled. This issue affects a tiny fraction of users. I know about it because of one comment on an article that has almost 100,000 page views. The Apple Support Forum thread on this issue only has 26 comments, and of those, only a few are from users who have experienced this issue. The defect is not widespread and should not dissuade you from upgrading to iOS 6.1.3.

What’s Wrong?

After researching the issue thoroughly, it is clear that this is mostly a hardware issue. Some people are able to fix this by resetting their iPhone’s network settings. A few unlucky people have sustained damage to the soldering that connects their iPhone’s WiFi module.

Some speculate that the iOS 6.1.3 upgrade broke their iPhone. The Stuxnet worm, developed to knock out Iranian nuclear centrifuges, is a prime example of how software can destroy hardware. The malware changed the rotational speed of centrifuges, forcing them to break down.

It is unlikely that iOS 6.1.3 is breaking the iPhone’s WiFi module. For one, the issue would be more widespread. Furthermore, there are no moving parts involved. It is remotely possible that Apple engineers may have increased power to the WiFi module, which damages the solder. This is unlikely. It would take a lot of power to fry the soldering, much more than is available on a mobile device. Users would notice intense heat. This issue only affects a few people’s iPhones. The iPad and iPod Touch are unaffected.

The more likely scenario is that iOS 6.1.3 is setting a persistent flag to disable WiFi if there is a fault in the module. The upgrade is uncovering the flaw, not introducing it. This would make the user inclined to get their hardware issue fixed, instead of experiencing (and complaining about) intermittent WiFi issues. It is likely that people who have grayed out WiFi also had issues with WiFi cutting out on occasion. iOS 6.1.3 is probably disabling WiFi when this happens. Some people experience this issue immediately after upgrading. Others experience it days, weeks, or months after the upgrade.

One can only speculate if this is a fault in manufacturing or if users have damaged their iPhone. No manufacturing process is perfect. Every assembly line will have a few duds. My research finds very few people affected by this issue. It could very well be that their device has sustained some damage, either through impact or temperature extremes.

Try This First

If you are one of the few that experience this issue, try resetting your network configuration. First, make sure airplane mode is off (settings > airplane mode). Next, reset all network settings (settings > general > reset > reset network settings). After this is done, you will need to re-pair Bluetooth devices and re-enter WiFi passwords, if your WiFi does work. If your WiFi setting is still grayed out, the software fix didn’t work. (continue…)

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  1. Upgrade to iOS7 mostlikely cause of overheated wifichip resulting in defective iPhone 4s

    After the upgrade to iOS7 quite a few Apple iPhone 4s users are experiencing serious problems resulting in an overheated WIFI chip with as result a greyed out WIFI button in the settings screen.
    This results in lost wifi communication and -since both the wifi and bluetooth are integrated in the same chip- in lost or severely deteriorated bluetooth communication.
    The serious overheating of this WIFI chip on the mainboard it gets damaged which results in a defective iPhone 4S. (Unfortunately I have hands-on experience myself)

    According to Apple the wifi chip was “most likely already broken” and it is just ‘coincidence’ that now after the upgrade to iOS7 the phone’s wifi and bluetooth completely stopped working.
    As you can see from the below threads desperate users are trying out every possible way to get their phones working (even using fridges and hairdryers !)

    Apple in no way is supporting these hundreds? thousands? of users and claiming (like in my case) that the upgrade to iOS 7 was fully ‘at your own risk’
    (quote ‘ sir, it says so in the small print in the legal statement during the upgrade procedure ‘ unquote)

    This problem not only occurs now with iOS7 but also occurred last year with the introduction iOS6, but at that time every one could still claim warranty, keeping this issue at a more of a low profile issue.
    However now most iPhone4s users find they’re just out of warranty. (The iPhone 5 was introduced September 2012)
    The cost for repair of an iPhone 4s: approximately € 280 euro’s with 3 month warranty.
    This while a new iPhone 4s can be purchased for € 350 (in Malaysia, where I have to travel to next week)

    The result is iPhones 4s’s , in some cases only just over a year old (like in my case) which are suddenly fully unusable

    I would like to bring this under your attention since Apple is -as you see in these discussions- not giving any support or comment on these cases.
    Their line: ‘sheer coincidence’, as you can read from the communication between the owners of broken iPhone4s phones and Apple support employees.

    For me an affected user, it feels very wrong when a company like Apple brings out a new firmware – which obviously does not work together well with a ‘shaky’ wifi chip- and then shoves the responsibility on their customers by saying: you upgraded at your own risk.

    As you can understand I am very frustrated in the support Apple is giving her customers.
    Even more so knowing Apple made over $ 6 billion profit in just the third quarter of 2013.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free in contacting me.

    Very best regards,

    Bin K.B. Kroon

    1. Good points. I’ll update this article to reflect your theory that overheating of the WiFi module can cause this fault. It makes a lot of sense. If you think about it, when your iPhone is downloading the upgrade, it’s using the WiFi module intensively for a long time. This may actually be more WiFi intensive than anything else on an iPhone — even streaming a movie. I would think Skype may be more intensive. It would be interesting to find out if users experience this problem after long Skype chats. I have had two hour Skype chats, and my WiFi still works. I think it’s the combination of a manufacturing defect and other conditions (sustained, heavy WiFi use and perhaps warm room temperature).

      Maybe, to play it safe, one could do the download the big, major iOS upgrades in smaller chunks — turn off WiFi to stop the download after 10-15 minutes or so, let it rest, then resume.

      This isn’t the best solution, but it may be a good tip for those who are afraid of upgrading and losing their WiFi. It may also be a good idea to do the download when the device is not plugged into the charger. Charging heats up the device.

      I think this is a manufacturing defect that occurred in a certain number of iPhones. Obviously, not everyone is losing their WiFi after upgrading. It could be a combination of a defect and conditions that cause the fault. That’s probably why it happens after upgrading.

      I would be upset if this happened to me.

  2. do a full charge for battery then start to record a video with flash until the phone switch off then recharge your battery !Thats all !I have wifi again :)!second days without trouble!;)

  3. I have spend one month researching this issue … Confirmed it’s the IOS.
    The whole idea is they want you to buy new phones.
    If it’s not the IOS, why on earth would they allow you to downgrade IOS ?
    The overheating, safety shutdown, Hair Dryer Heat Reflow all suggest there is a mismatch between older hardware and IOS 6 & 7. In another word, don’t ever update software. The iphone you buy is bets run with the same IOS forever. You’d regret upgrading … Greedy Apple.

  4. I changed the wifi antenna and still not fixed so i heated it with hairdryer and put in fridge for five mins and it actually works i dont believe it thanks for your advice

  5. iPhone 4s WIFI issue is a hardware issue and the chip needs to be replaced/repaired. so far, the only one that does this worldwide and permanent is

  6. followed “timm”s advice and fixed it. mail in service that works, wifi issue fixed for a few bucks. eat that, apple

  7. Go to Settings and turn Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb ON
    Power down and wait 5-10 minutes
    Power up
    Go to Settings and turn Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb OFF

    this worked for me

      1. Yeah, it actually won’t work for most people, as I have found out. It’s worth a shot. You can have the module replaced for $49. I think it’s worth trying these steps before taking it in for service. They do work for some people.

    1. It’s possible that the WiFi module is damaged. If you live near an Apple store, you may want to take it in. You can also call their customer support. The contact information is on the Apple website.

      If the WiFi module is damaged, the Apple store can probably repair it. There are also certified Apple repair shops that will repair it for about $50. That’s not a bad deal, considering that buying the part and fixing it yourself costs about the same.

      If it is still under warranty, contact Apple as soon as possible. They will most likely fix it for free. They offer a one year warranty with all iPhones.

  8. WI-Fi problem will get solved for a limited time, once the phone gets heated up, and will be back when it cools to normal room temperature. Tried Reset setting, then updated iOS 9.3.2 to 10.1.1, but the issue still persists.

    At Room temperature – No Wi-Fi.
    At Temperature A- Wifi icon active.
    At Temperature B- phone hangs.
    At Temperature C- Wifi Works.
    Slow Cooling at Temperature B- phone hangs
    Slow Cooling at temperature A- Wifi icon become inactive
    At Normal Room Temperature- No Wi-fi.

    Wi-fi problem should be a Hardware issue. Nothing to do with software upgrade.

    1. In some cases, it is a software issue that’s solved by resetting network settings. In your case, it’s not. Some people experience the opposite — their WiFi works if they put their iPhone in the freezer (which I do not recommend!!!). When it is a hardware issue, it usually has to do with the WiFi module’s soldering coming loose. In your case, heat causes expansion, which re-connects the soldering.

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