Air 1 WiFi slowdowns when Bluetooth streaming

Discussion in 'iPad Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by user1234, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. user1234 macrumors regular

    user1234

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    #1
    Hi!

    I have an iPad Air 1, which often, but not always, will have it's WiFi speeds dropped to totally unusable when streaming audio through Bluetooth.

    It happens after streaming for a while, anywhere between a couple of minutes to an hour. It seems to be worse when battery is below 40-50% on the iPad.

    To fix this, I have to turn off WiFi and bluetooth (toggling airplane mode is a quick way of doing this), then go back into settings -> Bluetooth and reconnect to the speaker, after which I can start playback again.

    Sometimes it will be fine after this, but other times it will happen again, and again. Basically, listening to audio while browsing the web seems to be too much for this device.

    Does anyone else have this issue? Is it a well known issue? It has happened at least since iOS 9, and probably longer but I don't know if it was there when it was new. Didn't use Bluetooth audio then. Currently on 13.3.3 PB (first beta version ever run on this device, eager to try iOS 11).
     
  2. flaubert macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2015
    #2
    What is the source of the audio data ? Is it a streaming service like Spotify or Pandora or Apple Music? Because if it is, the wifi bandwidth is going to be shared between the audio stream and the browser, and the audio stream is probably going to take the lion's share of that bandwidth. I also wonder whether your wifi access point setup is part of the problem - if you're far from the access point the supported bandwidth goes down, sometimes dramatically.

    You might want to try some experiments to separate out whether Bluetooth is truly playing a role here, or whether it is just incidental. One thing I can think of is to playback the audio through the speakers of the iPad (leave Bluetooth off), and then switch to another window and see if you see the kind of slowdowns that you've experienced with audio. Perhaps try this at different locations in your house: once positioned right next to your wifi access point, once at a place in your house where you've experienced slowdowns, and once at a farthest point in your house, with most number of walls at oblique angle between you and access point. Then perhaps repeat with audio and Bluetooth on at the different locations, and note whether there are similarities or differences. If streaming with bluetooth off works better everywhere and doesn't block your browsing the way the streaming Bluetooth audio does, then you've confirmed that Bluetooth really is a factor. On the other hand, if you notice similar slowdowns in browsing while streaming without Bluetooth on, then that points to a wifi bandwidth issue.

    Bluetooth uses the same 2.4 GHz frequency band as 802.11b/g (and sometimes 802.11n, too), so if you have an older router that is broadcasting on 2.4 GHz perhaps that is causing interference with each other.
     
  3. user1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    user1234

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    #3
    Thanks for your reply!

    The source is downloaded podcasts in pocket casts most of the time, but sometimes also downloaded content in Spotify. I rarely stream anything over WiFi.

    I'm close to my access point and bandwidth at that location is not an issue. Speedtest shows 60-80 Mbps down and up and signal strength as reported by my wifi controller is very good.

    Playing back through the iPad with Bluetooth off is never an issue. The issue only happens when Bluetooth is connected. I can't tell if it only happens when Bluetooth is actively streaming because I never connect to the speaker unless I'm going to stream.

    It doesn't matter where in my house I am. It happens everywhere.

    My access point is using 2.4 GHz since 5 GHz doesn't have as much range and I'm not going to have both radios active simultaneously.

    I recall reading about common Bluetooth/wifi issues with iPads a couple of years ago, but can't remember what it was about.

    Once it happens is does not resolve itself, but I have to turn both off and on again (I just though about IT Crowd as I was typing that btw ). And it also happens very suddenly. I can load a website without a single issue, read an article for a couple of minutes, then when trying to load another one it's slow. Most of the time it works just fine though. Maybe it happens because bluetooth sometimes chooses a frequency that interfere with the wifi channel I'm using and other times it doesn't.

    It would just be nice to know if it's a hardware issue or not.
     
  4. flaubert macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2015
    #4
    Since you mentioned hardware issue, here's a scenario: Bluetooth and wifi functionality are generally supplied by the same chip. I've known iPhones where wifi would drop out because of a failure of the solder connections made under the wifi/Bluetooth chip. The drop out could be triggered by and/or sometimes temporarily cured by a change in device temperature (some old iPhones would start to work if you blasted them with a hair dryer, for instance). I wonder if using both Bluetooth and wifi at the same time is causing a faulty chip to heat up enough that an electrical solder connection opens up, and what you're seeing is not just a slowdown but perhaps a temporary dropout?

    One way to test this would be refrigerate your iPad thoroughly, and then try streaming Bluetooth while browsing with wifi - does it take much longer for the slowdown/dropout to occur? Or another approach: run until the slowdown occurs, and then instead of going into and out of airport mode, just try chilling your iPad (put it in freezer for a minute). Does that fix the problem without a reset of the wifi system?
     
  5. user1234 thread starter macrumors regular

    user1234

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2009
    Location:
    Sweden
    #5
    That's an interesting though. I'll try cooling it next time it happens. Since the problem only happens occasionally it would be difficult to cool beforehand.

    I hope it won't quit completely though, because even though
    The new iPad pro looks great, mine will have to do for at least another year.
     

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