Orange San Francisco WiFi problems

By on Oct 21, 2010 in Personal |

The Orange San Francisco - A false economy?

Last week, I went to my local Orange store to buy one of their “San Francisco” pay as you go phones (a re-badged ZTE Blade). I was hoping to have an economical Android 2.1 device permanently in-house just so that I could keep an eye on the Android world, even though I mostly write about the Symbian world.

Upon getting the phone home, all seemed well, and it was a lovely little device. Buying a phone with a 3.5″ capacitive multi-touch OLED screen for £99 seemed too good to be true.

However, without getting into a review of the phone, I must report on an issue that many San Francisco users are finding, and I have fell foul of too.

It seems that this phone has trouble maintaining a WiFi connection with a wide range of routers. I found that when the San Francisco dropped its WiFi connection, I just had to power the WiFi off and on again (via home screen widgets) and I could carry on. However, this ‘fix’ only works so many times for me, four at most. After which, the phone is permanently unable to gain an IP address from my router, until I reboot the router. The frequency at which I would have to do this is just ridiculous.

Many people on Twitter have reported this problem too. There is also a HUGE forum thread about this problem over at the Modaco forums, click here. In that forum, others have tried manually assigning IP addresses without success, so I don’t think it’s just a DHCP problem.

As another possible remedy, I have set the phone’s WiFi to never disconnect when the phone goes into sleep mode. Although the WiFi still disconnects anyway.

I had a long phone conversation with the store manager from where I bought my San Francisco who stated absolutely that there was no way I could have a refund – in contradiction of consumer law!

I’m posting this here because if it is a flaw in ZTE Blade drivers, as I suspect, then Orange might need to issue a recall. In the interests of investigating this problem, I would like readers to leave their experiences of WiFi on the San Francisco / Blade here in the comments, and hopefully someone at Orange will take note.

Update (26th October 2010):

I neglected to add the technical details of my San Francisco when I oriingally posted, so here they are:

  • Firmware version: 2.1-update1
  • Baseband version: P729BB01
  • Kernel version : 2.6.29

I returned to the Orange store yesterday, armed with knowledge of the amended 1979 sales of goods act. After explaining to them that repair and replacement were not applicable because this was a software issue, and therefore refund was the only redress left available – they still absolutely refused to cooperate. They claim they are within the law, I disagree.

All the would offer me was another San Francisco, which I accepted for the sake of going through the proces. Also, the new San Francisco is exactly the same firmware, baseband and Kernel version as above.

However, to my utter lack of surprise, having tried the new San Francisco on my home WiFi network today, the exact same problem persists – just as expected.

There still fails to be a universal solution to this issue over on the Modaco forums, and I’m still keen to get more feedback here in the comments to this post.