For some early adopters, Wi-Fi reception problems with their new iPads

In addition to the new iPad getting a bit warm when playing graphics-intensive games, it would appear that an unknown portion of early adopters are also having issues with Wi-Fi reception. A growing thread on Apple’s support forum is filled with reports describing a range of difficulties with the iPad’s wireless networking capabilities.

According to a bunch of disgruntled users, the new iPad has trouble maintaining a reliable wireless connection in places with strong signal. It also exhibits flaky connection that constantly drops or has no reception at all. Apple has not yet responded to these complaints at the time of this writing…

The thread begins with a user describing his Wi-Fi woes:

I am in a hotel with my laptop and new ipad3. The laptop wifi reception is as strong as it gets, but the iPad only registers a weak signal. Anyone else having similar problems? Any suggestions?

Another user chimed in:

MacBook Pro as well as iPhone 4S show ‘Full Fan’ — new iPad (16GB Wi-Fi) shows ‘one dot’ or just flat drops the Wi-Fi connection (and is often unable to search and find it).

Another one:

Same problem. Have the Decorah Eagles live cam running on my MacPro, Mac desktop and Mac Air on home network – no problem. The new Ipad – continually loading with occasional brief connection.

Some affected folks who talked to AppleCare representatives or support staff at Apple’s retail stores got a replacement device that works without a hiccup. But then, others claim that all replacement iPads they’d been issued continued to exhibit weak Wi-Fi reception.

Now, this could be a rehash of a similar issue plaguing a small subset of the original iPad owners, later fixed with a firmware update from Apple. Unfortunately, it’s too early to figure out whether Wi-Fi woes with the new iPad are hardware- or software-related. A teardown analysis of the third-generation iPad shows a Broadcom BCM4330 chip that Apple also used in the new 1080p Apple TV.

This piece of silicon provides the new iPad and Apple TV with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n networking with dual-band support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks and integrated Bluetooth 4.0+HS and FM transceiver.

According to iFixit, the second-generation iPad packs in a Broadcom BCM43291HKUBC Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/FM tuner silicon. This is the same chip found inside the original iPad and iPhone 4. Now, it’s indeed possible that upgrading the wireless networking hardware has resulted in Wi-Fi reception issues for some.

That being said, here’s to the hoping this issue stems from a software flaw. When Apple released iOS 5 last October, people similarly complained that the operating system was causing their devices to lose Wi-Fi connectivity. Eventually, subsequent iOS updates gradually eradicated this annoyance.

Have you been experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity issues with your new iPad? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!