I got an iPad back in June 2010 and it worked wonderfully for about 30 days; full bars for 3G all the time. I loved it. Then one day the 3G just seemed to quit working and Apple says it is "fine." Now I hate it!

How can I get Apple to admit my iPad 3G does not work and actually fix or replace it?

Here are more details: After the iPad started displaying "No Service" for 3G most of the time I went to the local Apple store (a Lenox Mall in Atlanta) and they took it for an hour, said they ran diagnostics on it and that "it was fine." While in the store it did have 5 bars, but by the time I got to the parking lot it was on "No Service" again. I'm assuming that Apple and AT&T put 3G signal boosters in their stores to ensure people have no trouble with the signals when they are trying to decide if they are going to buy an iPhone or iPad.

I didn't have time to deal with it for a while but finally called tech support and they said I needed to replace the SIM card. So I travelled to AT&T and they replaced the SIM card, and while in the store it was fine. Before I had travelled 1/4 mile it was on "No Service" again. So here I'm assuming that AT&T also has 3G signal boosters in their stores too.

So time passed because I didn't have time to deal with it and finally was able to get a tech support support person to offer to return it for repair. Hurray! So I went to the UPS Store to ship it back, and then about 5 days later I get an email from Apple saying "We found nothing wrong, so we are shipping it back to you."* Sure enough when I got it back it was exactly as before: "No Service." where other iProducts have 4 or 5 bars.

Now you might ask, maybe it's really not the iPad but instead where I'm taking it? I'd consider that might be true had it not worked flawlessly for about 30 days. Or if I didn't live in Midtown Atlanta where signal strength is strong. Or if I didn't live across the street from the AT&T tower in Midtown Atlanta. Or if I hadn't seen many times where my iPhone 3G has 3 to 5 bars and my iPad had "No Service." Or if I hadn't seen my iPad with "No Service" and iPads of my friends with 5 bars. I've even started taking photos to prove it:

(source: mikeschinkel.com)

(source: mikeschinkel.com)

(source: mikeschinkel.com)

At this point my guess is the 3G antenna inside my iPad has failed and Apple's diagnostics don't detect it because they might not have been designed to detect that exact problem. So what I get is the continuous run-around rather than respectful customer service.

Thus far I've wasted about 20 hours on this problem, and at my $75/hour billing rate that's more than 2x what the iPad cost. I'm beyond sick about this. Does anyone know how I can get this resolved without another 20 hours of my time?

Gracious thanks in advance for your help.


P.S. I bought the iPad for web access when I'm out at places that don't have WiFi and especially for access to Google Maps. But since the 3G became so unreliable I don't even use it anymore. :-(


I don't have a resolution yet but I have hope, and a story. I had my assistant take my iPad to an Apple store again and they told her that it was because I didn't have a current AT&T account which was total BS. A working iPad still shows 3g signal without an AT&T account, but since I was in a meeting when she went to the Apple store I didn't get a chance to tell the Apple store person that they were an unhelpful idiot.

Then later in the day she stopped by an Apple Authorized Service Center when I was available via phone and the tech at that store told me the same thing (Ugh!). So I gave her my credit card, she signed up for a $15/month plan and then LO-AND-BEHOLD the service tech experienced EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM I HAVE BEEN DESCRIBING (as I expected): Hallelujah!!! He offered to send back to Apple with his explanation that it is INDEED a faulty iPad.

So, with fingers tightly crossed it seems like the answer to this huge fing time sink thanks to Apple's customer no-service might just be to **get 3rd party validation at an Apple Authorized Repair Center. I'll follow up to let others know if indeed this resolved my problem or not and if so I'll name and praise the service center for their help.

  • First you can't compare the iPad and iPhone reception, they have different aerials, though I see you have compared two iPads. Second, I bought an iPad at Xmas and the 3G in that has NEVER worked. I am still trying to get it resolved :(
    – Henry
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 23:17
  • @Henry - Thanks for the comments. The point of comparing the iPhone to the iPad was not a comparison but to prove there is signal in the area. Some of my past experience with Apple fans and Apple itself is a tendency to presume that I'm "just not in an area that has signal" instead of assuming that I'm reasonably intelligent and that I have verified as a fact that there is signal available where my iPad finds none or only 1 bar. Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 23:28
  • @Henry - It's interesting that your 3G doesn't work either. I wonder how many others have this issue. Is this a flaw that Apple simply won't acknowledge? Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 23:30
  • Good question @MikeShinkel, hope you get it sorted out. Surely the evidence you've shown here should be of value to Apple? Have you provided them with this evidence? Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 23:33
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    @Randolph Potter - USA, and I have spoken to the store managers and for my efforts I got the great run-around. As far threatening to sue, I've learned that it's best to only threaten to sue if you are ready to immediately follow thru with it, and I'm not going to sue over this. Instead, I'm going to go to a highly visible place on the web and ask about it in hopefully rational terms so that maybe somebody at Apple will see it and resolve the matter, or that someone who knows how to get Apple to pay attention will suggest an approach. You know, some place like the AskDifferent website. Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 5:08

4 Answers 4


So, as a follow up, almost 9 months after buying the iPad and after 8 months of it's 3G not working, I finally got Apple to replace it. How? I had an Apple-authorized 3rd party service center look at it. They confirmed the problems and sent to Apple for repair. But it didn't end there! Apple sent it back to them and said it was fine. Grrr.

BUT, armed with the 8 months of no-iPad-3G love AND with the fact that the Apple-authorized 3rd party service center agreed I had a problem I berated the tech support guy until he agreed to send me a new one no matter what the results of their diagnostics said. And he made good to his word; a new iPad showed up on my doorstep several days later.

With that ends the saga of the failed 3G on iPad that Apple would not admit was a problem.

Now here's the sad, sad irony and how I still feel that Apple got the last laugh on me. The day I got my iPad back was the very same day Apple announced the iPad 2. With all the bad taste in my mouth from this Apple seriously has me looking at an Android tablet for my next upgrade. :-(

  • Man what an ordeal. Also ironic that I'm reading this whole thing on a 3g iPad2 that I spent 3 1/2 hours waiting in line for today. The whole buying experience at an Apple store really left a bad taste in my mouth. They just leave people waiting while they take their time and chat with each other then have the attitude they are doing you a favor by selling it to you. Hope I never have a problem with any of this expensive hardware.
    – Chris_O
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 0:31
  • @Chris_O - Good luck with yours! It is a nice device when it works. But I agree, the people at the Apple store have too much attitude and it makes me sad that I am buying Apple products because I don't like to use my money to reward that behavior. Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 9:28
  • I have the EXACT same problem. I've been too busy for the past 3 months to address it. It's my turn to get my 3G resolved. My 3rd call to ATT will be tomorrow then a repair center. Funny thing is each month it does not work but ATT still will not credit my dat fees because apparently there is some minimal data transfer taking place. Thank you very much for sharing this level of detail.
    – user11876
    Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 4:11
  • @Steve - I really hope my pain can help you minimize your pain. Show everyone at Apple and AT&T this page, maybe? BTW, the replacement iPad they gave me has been working great (but I hope my saying so doesn't jinx it! :-) Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 16:30

To help diagnose, jailbreak and use the Signal app.

While jailbreaking voids your warranty, you can unjailbreak and your warranty is restored. Perhaps the info collect (and/or screenshots) will help you debug, make a case, etc.

I'm not sure how to present the evidence to Apple without them giving you a hard time about the jailbreak, assuming they make the connection.

  • Interesting idea, thanks. It'll probably help others but I've got my hands full with other things right now rather than figure out all the jailbreak stuff. And then I can just see them flat denying it because "I voided my warranty." Note, this is not the first time I've had customer no-service from Apple. It's becoming a pattern... Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 6:02

Copy your story and send photos to [email protected]

  • @zevlag - You are kidding, right? Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 5:54
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    @Mike No, this isn't a joke. There are web stories of this technique working very well. Of course, Jobs isn't active at Apple right now, which is an issue. But if you have a) a valid claim, b) evidence of Apple mis-behaving and c) noise (a good following), this technique has work. I don't think your problem has enough noise yet, and with Jobs out, it might not work. But it is worth a shot.
    – user588
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 6:08
  • @mankoff - Ah, thanks. Sounds like I have to create a bit more noise then... :) Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 6:20
  • @Mike, definitely not a joke. It is known to work. Even with Jobs out of the office, he has administrative assistants sorting his emails. It is likely this would work.
    – zevlag
    Commented Feb 2, 2011 at 19:43
  • @zevlag - Okay, email sent. Let's see if I get a response (I'm doubting it, but I hope you prove me wrong.) Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 10:44

I just left the Apple store where they told me the problem was not the sim card and their diagnosis showed no issues with the software, so the problem was probably the antenna. They offered to sell me a new iPad since mine was out of warranty.

  • "They offered to sell me a new iPad since mine was out of warranty." Lovely! Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 0:35
  • How old is it as a bad antenna sounds like a design fault - which might be covered by Sale of Goods Act in the UK or similar
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 10:36

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