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Apple iOS 13.2.3 Breaks Bluetooth Pairing for my Mercedes Sprinter Van for all my iPhones

I just got the iPhone 11 Pro Max three days ago. I had numerous problems but iOS 13.2.3 fixed the audio issues. But the key issue is that it will not pair with my 2017 Mercedes Sprinter van.

The iPhone 7 Plus has worked flawlessly with my van for 2.5 years (paired once, never needed to do anything again). Now, like the iPhone 11 Pro Max, it has also stopped pairing once updated to iOS 13.2.3. So now I have two expensive phones which will not work with my vehicle.

This all started with iOS 13 (13.2.2, and now 13.2.3). Apple iOS13 is the worst iOS release in Apple history.

Update 2019-11-27: vehicle use for all iPhones remains broken, so I have no audio, no maps, no handsfree phone in my vehicle—a disaster when driving. Apple has no ETA on a fix (won’t to acknowledge that iOS 13 is at fault), and most galling: no means to revert to previous iOS. And then to blame it on Mercedes.. it’s pathetic. I see no reason to shovel nearly $2000 into the coffers of a company that disrespects me that much. Accordingly, I am strongly considering returning the iPhone 11 Pro Max 512GB whose only real advantage is a superior display (cameras still suck in awful noise even shot RAW, as any basic objective analysis relative to even a Sony RX100 will show).

What Apple says

Update: I forgot to include key prior context when I wrote what follows. The night before, I had visited the Apple Store in the Stanford mall. An extremely helpful employee tried to solve my problem. We figured out 2 of 3 issues but not the Bluetooth pairing issues. He suggested that perhaps he could come out with me to my vehicle to see if his iPhone would pair with it. For that, he had to ask managerial permission, which was refused. The result? In my eyes, that employee is a Big Winner. But... Apple goes to pains to present a public image of being helpful , but when it comes to really wanting to help a customer, the charade is revealed for what it is: an unwillingness to do what it takes.

Even a failure to solve a customer issue can be a success, because it is as much psychological as technical. That Apple employee succeeded brilliantly on the psychological/empathy plane. But the manager... why is someone with the unwillingness to make the effort to help a customer running the blasted store? That manager is a Big Loser who failed to realized that s/he was sending a frustrated customer away with not only no solution, but a psychological resentment towards Apple for not making an effort that cost nothing but 10 minutes of an employees time (while 20 other idle employees stood around).

This incident and the next day phone conversations made it clear as day—no efforts beyond politeness and the heres-what-we-tell-dummies-to-do suggestions were offered. Rather, blame was placed on Mercedes (which could be true, but if so, Apple still broke iOS in 13.2.2!).

I’ve spent over an hour with Apple support including senior support, with no solution. In addition to time at the Apple Store.

The final answer I got from Apple is to take my vehicle into Mercedes. Any Sprinter owner knows that getting Mercedes to update vehicle software (if an update even exists), is like pulling teeth, because Mercedes pays its shop mechanics for about half the time it takes to do the update*. And that means hours of my time driving to/from the dealer.

It did not seem to register with either tech support rep at Apple that if a phone is working for 2.5 years then iOS is updated and the phone stops working, then the culprit is almost certainly iOS. I said this explicitly to both, and both reps were unable or unwilling to acknowledge the point, as if I could not be heard. Both immediately wanted to push it off on Mercedes. Apparently they are trained for to agree with the customer, except when the customer has compelling logic that reflects badly on Apple.

That response from Apple is unacceptable (though all that the customer service reps could do, be clear that I am not criticizing their individual efforts), given that iOS 13.2.3 was supposed to fix such problems, and given that the iPhone 7 Plus never had any issues the past 2.5 years.

So Apple breaks things that were working, and foists off the problem on Mercedes, wasting hours of my time already, and more time to come and leaving me without any functional GPS/maps for my vehicle (noise level means that the iPhone speaker doesn’t cut it).

This is my business phone, not some god-damned music player and video-watching toy.

So now I have a $1900 phone unusable with my vehicle, along with an iPhone 7 Plus also rendered unusable for my vehicle, so not even a backup phone. There is no way to revert to the previous iOS version, which at least worked flawlessly with my iPhone 7 Plus. Is that incompetence or arrogance that there is no revert?

All of this is just another example of Apple Core Rot, and rushing products to market without testing adequately—the prima facie proof of that being a stream of updates to fix bugs that customers should never had had to encounter (both iOS and macOS). Ship it not when ready, but when the scheduled date has been reached.


  • The iPhone 7 Plus worked flawlessly with my van for 2.5 years. It abruptly stopped working with iOS 13.2.2 and 13.2.3 does not fix that.
  • Both the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 11 Pro Max are unable to detect my van at all.
  • The van can see the iPhone 7 Plus, but since the iPhone 7 Plus cannot see the van, no passkey can be entered, making it impossible to pair.
  • The iPhone 11 Pro Max was flaky; with 13.2.2 the van could see it sometimes, though the phone could never see the van. After 13.2.3, neither can detect the other.
  • I did everything asked of me by Apple support: rebooted both phones, reset network settings, did everything Apple support asked except (not yet) factory reset.

* E.g., mechanic takes an hour to do an update, but gets paid for half that time (piecework payment system), so mechanics HATE doing software updates, rightly so.

Michael K writes:

Same issue with Porsche (PCM). IPhone xt pro simply won’t pair. Many owners have the same issue.

MPG: a company making $50B a quarter or so cannot afford to test its software properly? I first wrote on Apple Core Rot back in 2013.

The reported overhaul of Apple’s software development processes is not likely to fix the ingrained habit of releasing sloppy untested work, because releases are driven by calendar date and not quality control validation.

Mac Apple Repairs writes:

For ordinary problems with connectivity, the following links might be of help:

MPG: useful links for some perhaps, but I’ve tried all the “fixes” and more. The plain fact is that there is no way to make it work, since it is a bug, not some stateful connectivity issues.

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