Apple’s Authentication Token, iOS 6 WiFi, & Bricking The iPhone 5 on Sprint

** Update 10.29.12 **  I’ve been covering the iOS 6 WiFi problem from day 1 (actually from the first hour iOS 6 was released) – I don’t profess to know everything, but I’ve found (and a lot of the readers that have communicated with me have also found) that more than likely one of the fixes I’ve written about below will resolve your WiFi connectivity issue.  If not, then it’s possible your WiFi problem is outside the scope of iOS 6.

Did you know that every time your iPhone or iPad connects to a wireless router, it must be authenticated with Apple first?

Before your iPhone or iPad connects to a wireless network, a data packet gets sent to Apple servers from your device to verify your device is authentic.

And then, what is sent back to your device from Apple servers is an authentication token.

Apparently, based on some of my recent articles where I’ve talked about this, there are a lot of people who either flat out disagree with me and / or are outright offended that I would even suggest that such a thing exists.

But whether you wish you accept it or not, there is no disputing the fact that Apple requires your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to be authenticated before it jumps on a wireless network.

And this process is facilitated with an authentication token.

This authentication token, or moreso the transmission of the data packet that carries the authentication token, also gets to the heart of the WiFi connectivity problems that users are experiencing with iOS 6.

With iOS 6, Apple is forcing everyone who’s involved with accessing wireless networks on an iPhone or iPad (and iPod Touch… basically any iOS 6 device) to upgrade to the IPv6 protocol.  This includes users, wireless device manufacturers, and even ISP’s.

Apple is basically saying, if you want to use an iOS 6 device on a wireless network, you are going to do it via IPv6.

Now, I realize there are iOS 6 devices that are connecting via IPv4 protocol.  For example, the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 connect perfectly to IPv4 and IPv6.

But it’s the iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPad 2, and iPad 3 that are experiencing the WiFi connectivity problems.  And the core issue around this WiFi connectivity problem is Apple’s authentication token being transmitted on iOS 6 devices via IPv6 protocol, or the lack thereof.

If you try to connect your iOS 6 device on something other than IPv6, then you’ll more than likely experience WiFi connectivity problems (again, not applicable to iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 because they even though they are running iOS 6, they are still compatible with IPv4).

And the fix, which I’ve written about at length and have even created some YouTube videos, is to simply upgrade your wireless router so that it’s running IPv6 or buy a new wireless router that is IPv6.

From what we’ve seen, after upgrading wireless routers to be IPv6 compatible, the iOS 6 wifi problems disappeared.

Bricking the iPhone 5 on Sprint’s Network

Let’s take a look at where we see Apple’s authentication token doing some real damage.

And to do this, we look no further than Sprint.

Sprint, as you recall, runs unlimited data on their 4G network.

Well in the Sprint stores, why in the world would you need to have a wireless network if you already have unlimited 4G data?

Just forget installing wireless routers, and run everything on Sprint’s data network, right?  Makes sense to me…

That’s a great idea, except when it comes to Apple’s authentication token.

*** NOTE:  Is this true with every Sprint store in America?  Probably not… I haven’t called every Sprint store in America to confirm whether they have WiFi networks running or not.

When someone leaves the Sprint store with their iPhone 5, they are basically walking out the door with an iPhone 5 that has never connected to a WiFi network.

Again, why would it need to if Sprint is running unlimited 4G data?

So when the new iPhone 5 owner gets back to their house > turns on their iPhone 5 > and then connects to the WiFi network at their house, they are greeted with a most unpleasant surprise.

Their iPhone 5 has just been bricked!

And why does this happen?

Because again, whenever you attempt to connect an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, any iOS device to a wireless network, the first thing that Apple requires is that device be authenticated with Apple.

And this the way the authentication happens is by the iPhone 5 sending an data packet to Apple servers, and Apple servers sending an authentication token back to the iPhone 5.

Since the iPhone 5 you purchased from Sprint has actually left the store without ever being authenticated, you are left with a bricked iPhone 5.

Basically, Apple locks up your iPhone 5 and renders it useless.

And why does this happen?  Because when you attempt to connect to your wifi network, the authentication token (or the authentication process) fails with Apple.  Basically, Apple thinks that you are using a stolen iPhone 5 from Sprint.

This is really a problem with Sprint, and the fact they don’t run WiFi networks in their stores and push everything on their 4G data network.

And guess who has to deal with the bricked iPhone 5?  That’s right… it’s Apple, not Sprint.

Again, the reason the iPhone 5 bricks in the first place is because Sprint never authenticates the iPhone 5 before it leaves the store.

I guess another way to say it is that Sprint is letting iPhone 5′s leave their store without being properly set up for their customers.

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