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My iPhone 3GS running iOS 5.1 (although this also happened when running 4.3) keeps interrupting whatever I do with it (I might be playing a game or browsing the Web) with a dialogue asking me to enter a password for some WiFi network the phone appears to have found in the vicinity.

It's very annoying.

In the Wi-Fi Networks settings "Ask to Join Networks" is set to "off".

Why does my iPhone do that and how can I get it to stop doing that?

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1  
Have to tried to reset just the network settings? Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Note: This will reset all network settings, including passwords, VPN, and APN settings. [source] –  gentmatt Mar 29 '12 at 10:22
    
I believe this was done by the factory reset necessary for the iOS 5 install. –  Andrew J. Brehm Mar 29 '12 at 11:16
    
My iPhone 4 is doing the same thing.. What is the name of the network it is askin u to join? –  user23667 Jun 6 '12 at 1:23
    
The networks it kept finding were random names assigned, presumably, by local phone companies to their rent-a-routers, like "Vodaphone728391". –  Andrew J. Brehm Jun 6 '12 at 7:21
    
Anyway, my iPhone stopped doing it, I think. (Or my behaviour changed and I am no longer looking at the screen when walking past qualifying WiFi networks.) –  Andrew J. Brehm Jun 6 '12 at 7:22

3 Answers 3

That must be annoying, and you have identified the correct place that should turn the feature off, which clearly isn't working. So it's not really a problem we can identify with as we are unlikely to be able to recreate it for start.

As with lots of this type of problem, there is no way we can help assist with identifying exactly why it's doing it, other than noting that it is likely transient behaviour and provide some possible steps to try and fix it, which veers us into the realm of off-topic answers as there is no way of knowing if this "answer" can solve it for you.

But with this in mind, I would try the following steps, in this order.

  1. Turn Wifi Off and On. If this does not solve it:
  2. Turn Ask to Join Networks On and Off. If this does not solve it:
  3. Turn Wifi Off, turn Ask to Join Networks Off, and reboot your phone, then turn Wifi On

  4. If none of the above solves it, I would consider connecting to iTunes, backing up your device fully, performing an OS re-install, then recovering from your backup. This is last resort, but if none of the first 3 steps fix it, it's likely that there is some corruption of the settings for your Wifi which may only be fixed by replacing with a clean setup.

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I have done all of these things. This has gone on for weeks, possibly forever (maybe this particular type of WiFi network wasn't common until a few months ago). The phone underwent a complete setup when I updated to iOS 5 last week. –  Andrew J. Brehm Mar 29 '12 at 10:20
    
By "complete setup" do you mean an actual initial OS re-install, that effectively sets the phone up as a new device, or do you mean installing OS5 over the top of your existing setup and retaining your configuration? If the latter, a corrupt plist (conjecture) would carry over between OS updates unless the feature it relates to has changed between updates resulting in a different structure. –  stuffe Mar 29 '12 at 10:23
    
I upodated to iOS 5 and iTunes claimed it had to reset the phone to factory conditions for that. –  Andrew J. Brehm Mar 29 '12 at 11:15

Maybe these networks have the same name as a network you have joined? (One of those "default" names, like NETGEAR and such, that haven't been changed.) So then your iPhone thinks it is a network it is supposed to join, but the password it knows doesn't work, and it asks you for the "new" password.

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No. The networks it kept finding were random names assigned, presumably, by local phone companies to their rent-a-routers, like "Vodaphone728391". –  Andrew J. Brehm Jun 6 '12 at 7:21

The ask to join networks 'on' only prevents the phone from auto joining without your permission. Turn that off to get fewer prompts. The phone decides after it has seen a network for a while that it must be yours or a hotel and helps you join it. This is what i'm trying to figure out how to stop as its my neighbors network and i dont have the pass phrase

Also, after upgrading and restoring my phone it now asks this on all previously known networks so a plist carried over after a restore causes it more as well.

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