I just connected my iPhone to a brand new router and saw that 2 new MAC addresses appeared in connected devices. By disabling the "Private address" feature I could verify that both MAC addresses belong to my iPhone.

I understand that this is a privacy feature, but what's the point if my hardware address shows up anyway? This was my first time connecting to this network and the private address feature is enabled by default.

I have tested this on 2 routers, same thing with this iPhone. However, when using an Android device with the private address feature, only the spoofed MAC appears in my devices list.

Wonder if this just happens to me or also to others. And, more important: How can I prevent this from happening?

  • Did you compare the MAC to the one in Settings?
    – nohillside
    Nov 29 '21 at 20:56
  • Yes, in the wifi settings when connected to the network.
    – Em1l101
    Nov 30 '21 at 6:57
  • The MAC address shown in WiFi settings is the address announced to the router, not the iPhones actual MAC address. You can find your iPhones MAC address(es) in "Settings > General > About". Nov 30 '21 at 11:06
  • So which two MAC addresses have shown up, both the MAC address from the WiFi settings and the one in General->About (whatever it is called, the first entry in the General section)?
    – nohillside
    Nov 30 '21 at 13:41
  • Yes, that is correct! Both the spoofed and the 'hard coded' one
    – Em1l101
    Dec 1 '21 at 17:09

The point of randomizing MAC address is so that each router you connect to around town doesn’t get to know your device and sell your data to track you trivially. You will have to erase all history of Mac addresses on your router in a factory reset and be sure you enable privacy before connecting to test this on basic routers.

Imagine you had a bank that would give you new credit card numbers for each merchant. Then you would know which merchant had a breach and. It have to change the others.

I would ask a second follow on question for your router not working (it depends more on the router details - none of which are documented in your question). At home, you don’t have to worry as much about being “known” to “your router” so I would disable this feature for that network if you don’t want to hassle with configuring your router configuration to work well with this privacy option. You also may want to sign out of iCloud if you have other devices that join Wi-Fi automatically when iCloud shares credentials like watch, TV or HomePod.

  • If I understand the OP correctly, it‘s about the iPhone using both the static AND the random MAC when connecting to the router (which would reduce the value of using random MAC). Seems to be an issue with the phone, not the router (they tested it with different routers).
    – nohillside
    Dec 30 '21 at 14:45
  • @nohillside could be, most times we investigated this, staff either loaded software on the phone as well as didn’t clear past connection data store from the router in a thorough factory reset. Let’s see if we can draw them to ask a follow on question with enough technical detail to answer. Also, I have seen this where iCloud shares wifi with other devices - would be interesting if that leaked the deceive hardware address.
    – bmike
    Dec 30 '21 at 14:56

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