iPod touch (4th Gen) Unable to Join Network


The Short Version: My wife’s iPod touch (4th gen) may have a hardware failure. We’ll send it to Apple for repair. None of the various troubleshooting steps I’ve tried have made any difference (see full post for details).

A couple of months ago my wife’s iPod touch was damaged so she replaced it with a new one (both were 4th generation models). I don’t think she used it very much until a few weeks ago when she was unable to connect to the secure wifi network at our house. That evening I fiddled around with it for about thirty minutes but wasn’t able to make it connect.

Last night she tried to use it again, so once again I tried to get it connected to the network. I’ve had to troubleshoot some iPod issue before so this wasn’t an entirely new experience (and I’ve also been using an iPhone for several years).

Nothing worked. Absolutely nothing would make the device connect to the network. And it’s not just a problem with our network. I tried others wifi networks (even attempted to tether it to my iPhone) but it refused to connect.

In the forums some individuals have reported problems with being able to use the Internet after connecting to a wifi network. This was not such a case. It refused to even connect to a network and often it did not even see the networks. Sometimes I could find networks by shutting off wifi on the iPod or switching Airplane Mode on for a moment, off, and then turning wifi back on but I always received the same message:

Unable to join network

Over and over again despite everything that I tried. At this point I’m convinced the iPod probably has a hardware problem – we’re going to send it back to Apple for repair since it’s still under warranty. Here’s a run-down of the various troubleshooting steps I’ve attempted:

  • Re-entering secure wifi password more than 30 different times
  • Changing secure wifi password on the AP
  • Forget Network
  • Reset Network Settings
  • Full Reboot (Holding the Power and Lock buttons until the Apple logo appears)
  • Restore from a backup
  • Restore to factory settings
  • Restore from Apple IPSW file (firmware)
  • Changing wifi network encryption settings
  • Changing wifi network to open
  • Holding iPod next to wireless access point
  • Attempting to connect to other open and secure wifi networks

There are two reasons why I inclined to suspect a hardware failure:

  • Problem persists after restoring to factory settings and original firmware
  • Device often doesn’t see wifi networks (regardless of proximity to APs)

I’ve also ruled out the possibility of already having too many devices connected to my AP. First, I didn’t even have 10 devices connected and second it didn’t work with another AP elsewhere that is rated for more connections. I also double-checked all AP settings and restrictions (and again, it didn’t work on different APs that provide open networks).

At this point I don’t think there’s anything else that I can try. When we contact Apple it’s likely they won’t suggest as many different steps as I have already tried.

Updated 09/30/2012: We sent the iPod back to Apple for repair. They found a problem and replaced the device. This one connects to wifi without any problems.

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