Apple iOS 10.2.1 Is Causing New Problems – Forbes

Just five days after release iOS 10.2.1 is proving highly divisive: it contains an essential security fix, but infuriatingly it also ignores the infamous 30% Bug. And now it appears the update is causing significant new problems for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners…

Note: Multiple sources are listed for each bug and I have contacted about them. This article will be updated when/if the company replies.

Apple iOS 10.2.1. Image credit: Amit Chowdhry

Apple iOS 10.2.1. Image credit: Amit Chowdhry

Problem #1: Breaking TouchID

This is being widely reported (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of many). After upgrading to iOS 10.2.1 iPhone owners are reporting the update has broken Apple’s fingerprint reader.

The problem primarily appears to impact iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners and logical options such as removing and re-adding fingerprints and a factory reset doesn’t work. Interestingly downgrading to iOS 10.2 is reported to fix the problem, which isolates iOS 10.2.1 as the root cause.

Apple iOS 10.2.1 TouchID problems can be fixed by downgrading to iOS 10.2. Image credit: Reddit

Apple iOS 10.2.1 TouchID problems can be fixed by downgrading to iOS 10.2. Image credit: Reddit

Problem #2: Shifting Display Brightness

Another problem that’s gaining traction (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc) and one I’ve been contacted about directly by a number of frustrated users is iOS 10.2.1 is causing iPhone displays to dim automatically at specific battery percentages. These are:

  • 74% battery > dim to 70% brightness
  • 49% battery > dim to 50% brightness

Interestingly it appears Apple has done this is on purpose as it has been replicated at these same points by other users. Why would Apple do this? It could be a bizarre attempt to address the 30% bug problem on older iPhones (only the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are immune) by conserving battery but that would be a ridiculous approach.

One workaround for affected users is manual control. As explained on one Apple Support Communities thread: “When the dim happens, the only way to get the normal brightness again is to go to: Settings > Display and Brightness and find the Display Zoom option and tag it to Zoom and then back to normal. This way the brightness is “fixed” until the next time the battery reaches any of the predefined battery percentages.”

If this is indeed an intentional change by Apple (and if so it was left out of the iOS 10.2.1 official release notes) expect an outcry for it to be changed back.

Problem #3: Bluetooth Reliability

Bluetooth has long been a bugbear for Apple. iOS 8 has a number of ongoing problems and now it seems they’re back with iOS 10.2.1 (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

iOS 10.2.1 is also causing Bluetooth problems, including heavy battery drain. Image credit: Twitter

iOS 10.2.1 is also causing Bluetooth problems, including heavy battery drain. Image credit: Twitter

The issues include both lost connectivity and excessive battery drain while Bluetooth is paired. Again users have tried the usual tricks including resetting Bluetooth connections, unpairing devices and factory resets but found no solution.

Other Bugs

The above list represents more than enough difficulties for one release, but there are others worth pointing out. They are included in this list because I haven’t seen them reported as widely:

Battery Drain – With almost every iOS update someone complains about battery drain, but iOS 10.2.1 is seeing consistent complaints about increased power consumption (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Sound performance – I have been contacted specifically by a developer who is witnessing degraded audio performance in PhoneGap and Unity based apps.  

Degraded WiFi – another one I was contacted about and has also been picked up in forums. It seems for some users (though how many is unknown), WiFi performance and reliability has taken a dive with iOS 10.2.1.

Should You Still Install iOS 10.2.1?

Given the important security fixes in the release, I’m tempted to say yes. The caveat would be for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users as they seem disproportionately affected by both the TouchID and screen brightness problems.

So what’s the solution? Right now, patience. Apple already has iOS 10.3 in beta testing but it will likely be 4-6 weeks before a final version is launched. If you are desperate for a fix then either signing up for the iOS 10.3 beta or downgrading to iOS 10.2 (the latter certainly fixes the TouchID bug) are short term options.  

Meanwhile the wait for a fix to the headline hitting 30% bug goes on. Apple, we really need you to fix existing bugs faster than you introduce new ones…

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