Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Do Not Write On Board

Today UPS delivered my 3rd Google Nexus 4 phone. An hour later it was clear that it has the same WiFi defect, which you can read about in some depth here in one of the Google code forums:


If you're not interested in wading through all 387+ trouble reports, the summary of this thread is nice and succinct:

______________________
Please describe the problem in detail. Be sure to include:

- Steps to reproduce the problem.

     Wifi will drop connection after a period of time (looks to be while in deep sleep. Shows normal signal strength but google sync has been lost (grey status bar icons) and no connection

- What happened.

     Connection drops completely

- What you think the correct behavior should be.


Shouldn't drop connection at all.
________________

So, what's the big deal?  Well, only that the phone basically stops working when connected to WiFi after you blank the screen.

What I find really interesting is that we all know that Google is aware of this problem, but has yet to utter even a peep about this.  Let's speculate on why they might have gone silent on this one.  Here are are few possibilities:
  1. It's a hardware problem.  It can't be fixed with a firmware update.  If word gets out, sales will crater.  Remember the Apple antenna "grip of death" fiasco?
  2. It's a driver problem.  It can be fixed with a firmware update.  But, if word gets out, sales will crater until the upgrade is available. And, the problem only exists when the phone is connected via WiFi.  Most people won't notice, right?
  3. It's a little bit of each. It's a hardware problem that a firmware upgrade can sort of patch, but there will always be degraded performance when the phone is using WiFi.  Don't want people to know that...
Anyhow, back to my particular issue. At the time of this writing there are 377 complaints on the Google Code thread mentioned above.  I have personally sent Google support a link to this thread.  We know that Google knows about this problem.  What to do?  I'm on my third phone.  I use it mostly when it is WiFi-connected.  Or I would, if it worked.

So here's what I'm going to do.  In the morning I'll call the Google device support number, 1-855-836-3987, and I'll initiate another RMA ticket.  But, before agreeing to wait for them to send me another defective phone I'll try to escalate this issue through their support infrastructure until I get someone on the line who is willing to tell me:

1. What is the problem with the phone, and
2. When will it be fixed?

That's not asking too much, is it?

--Doug
doug@parrot-farm.net

17 comments:

  1. I feel your pain... I am in the same situation and about to post on Google's issue 40065. Keep us up to date on your situation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A little transparency would have avoided this public airing of dirty shorts, but hey! There's dirty shorts waving in the breeze now!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Given this has a 99% chance of being a software issue I'm not sure what you're hoping to achieve by continuously RMA'ing the phone.

    I suggest rooting your phone and attempting this fix: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2072930

    If it works then you've established it's a software issue and can stop wasting your own time, otherwise you're just hella unlucky getting defective units

    ReplyDelete
  4. I saw that solution, but I guess I'm kind of old-fashioned: I want to make Google give me a phone that works out of the box for the $349 I paid for it. And, if they sold me a broken one, I want them to admit it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The fix (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2072930 ) is about wifi stability. My problem is different : my Nexus 4 cannot connect to wifi.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My problem is with authentication. It will get stuck at "Authenticating" and will stay there until I back out of the settings. When I return, it will say "Authentication Problem." The only i'm able to use wifi at home is with the Wifi Manager app I downloaded from the play store. Works flawlessly, but still, I shouldn't have to use a 3rd party app to be able to connect to my router.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You should go over to

    http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=40065

    and leave the info there; Google is finally looking into this. They want the model number of your device, e.g. Nexus 4, 7, or 10, and the make and firmware rev. of your router.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm working with some media contacts about this, we're meeting this weekend to discuss. If anyone else has some contacts like me, you should consider doing the same. Unfortunately I think some bad press about their flagship OS and device is the only way we're going to get their dev team working on a solution asap.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Go for it, PTown. I've tried to get several of my blog posts on this issue published on Slashdot, but I suspect the owner/operator of that high-readership publication takes advertising money from Google, and is hesitant to publish anything critical of them.

    I did get this one: http://things-linux.blogspot.com/2013/01/has-google-become-institution-bound.html published at Linux Journal, which was worth about 1,500 hits (a number of which were from Google), but that's small potatoes.

    Check out the most recent post here: http://things-linux.blogspot.com/2013/02/epic-fail.html

    Feel free to redistribute any of the articles you see here, but use standard press protocol: short intro, and then link to the article.

    Cheers,

    --Doug

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've just got a Nexus 4 and came across this issue. This little util has fixed it for me. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.wahtod.wififixer

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for the feedback, Greg. I did try the wififixer app, but it did not keep my Nexus 4's wifi alive. What I have ended up doing is running the REGPON keep alive app, https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.miraidou.regpon.wifi&feature=search_result

    In addition, I run a continuous ping from one of my servers to the phone. Most of the time the phone stays at least partially alive, as measured by it answering ping. However sometimes it still goes completely to sleep.

    The only real fix will be when (if) Google ever delivers a new wifi driver for the phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm thanks. My phone seems to drop wifi but the app reconnects it. Phone is < 1 day old. Not sure whether to return it or wait for a fix.....

      Delete
  12. I just got the Nexus yesterday and cannot connect to my home router. The irony of it all? I can connect to my iPhone hotspot flawlessly.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, Dustin. The irony of Google's very own branded Android phone being unable to connect to the internet is pretty bizarre. And the fact that they seem unable to fix it is even more so.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Guys did you find a fix or got rid of your N4? I bought mine on may and I was hopping that 4.3 version had the fix but nothing happened...shame on google. I decided to get rid of mine but wanted to check first if someone has found a fix for this wifi issue on the N4???

    ReplyDelete
  15. Doing a complete wipe of my Nexus 4 and then installing the factory images from here: https://dl.google.com/dl/android/aosp/occam-jwr66v-factory-08d2b697.tgz

    completely fixed all the wifi and bluetooth problems. You have to install the new radio images as well as the 4.3 system image. My N4 now works as it was supposed to have.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow, I'm a novice; would this be hard for me to do? I have a new N4 and can't connect to any WiFi networks.

    ReplyDelete