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Fix Grayed Out iPhone WiFi

iPhone with grayed out WiFi

published by Chand Bellur
July 28, 2013 at 6:26 p.m. PST

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.

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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.

Fix grayed out iPhone wifi

Another option is to upgrade iOS. You can check for new software updates by tapping settings > general > software update. Keep in mind, most users affected by this issue experienced it after upgrading to iOS 6.1.3. If you don’t have an iPhone 5, 6.1.3 is the latest version, and may be the last 6.x version. You may choose to make do without WiFi until iOS 7 is released, however, if this is a hardware issue, no upgrade will truly fix it.

Apple recommends restoring your iPhone with iTunes as a possible solution. Follow these steps to restore your iPhone.

Didn’t Work?

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If the software configuration changes didn’t work, you most likely have an issue with the WiFi module. If your iPhone is still under warranty, take it to the nearest Apple store or contact Apple for replacement. If you have a third-party extended warranty, follow their process for repair or replacement. If your iPhone’s warranty has expired, there is still hope. You can take it to a repair shop. Many repair shops are familiar with this issue. They can fix it with a heat gun or by replacing the WiFi module. From my research, this should cost no more than $60.

Not Recommended

There are a few DIY fixes for this issue that are floating around the Internet. I don’t recommend these, as they may cause other damage to your iPhone. One fix is to turn off your iPhone and seal it in a plastic bag, squeezing out all of the air. The iPhone is then placed in the freezer for 15 minutes. When the iPhone is turned back on, some users are able to use WiFi again. For most, this is a temporary solution, lasting a few hours or maybe a day. Other users have done the opposite, using a hair dryer to heat up their iPhone. I don’t recommend either of these fixes. They will likely damage your iPhone further. Some people may have nothing to lose, as their warranty has expired. I would suggest taking it to a repair shop. If you live in a remote area, you can send your device to a repair service.

The iPhone is a well-made device. No device is perfect. People experiencing WiFi issues are rightfully annoyed. I would be upset if this happened to me. Keep in mind that this issue affects very few people. There are other mobile devices that are far more problematic than the iPhone. The vast majority of iPhone users are happy with their devices and the iPhone is ranked #1 in customer satisfaction, 9 times in a row. It’s not perfect, but it is better than a lot of other devices on the market.




  • An iOS user has started a petition on, demanding that Apple replace devices that were ruined by iOS 7.

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