0

My boyfriend is using an iPhone XS Max. He is in Johor, Malaysia, but his last active session displays that he is in Kuala Lumpur. He told me that he is in Johor, and he said the only reason why it's displaying a wrong location is due to it possibly using a VPN or Proxy. Is this true? Or are there other reasons why it could show a wrong location?

1
  • 2
    Hello and welcome to Stack Exchange. I edited your question to clarify it, and I hope I got everything right. If not, please edit your question and either revert it to how it was or change the wrong parts.
    – user163495
    May 24, 2019 at 15:15

1 Answer 1

3

Yes, it is possible that the location reported is wrong.

How does an IP show location?

The binding between IP addresses and physical locations is very, very loose. The way they work is by seeing which ISPs give out which IPs, and where those ISPs are located. Depending on how wide of an area that ISP serves, and how consistent they are with their IPs being allocated, the better or worse your accuracy is.

Imagine that there was an ISP which would only serve New York City, and they would give out IPs in the block 200.0.0.0/7 (meaning anything from 200.0.0.0 to 201.255.255.255 would be valid). Any IP assigned in this range, e.g. 200.103.10.5 would thus likely be in New York City. Somewhere.

Now imagine a second ISP would serve all of the US, and would just assign IPs to customers from anywhere in their IP address range (let's say 100.0.0.0/3, from 100.0.0.0 to 131.255.255.255). A device with the IP 104.140.92.6 would likely be somewhere in the US. Where exactly? That's impossible to say from this information alone.

What causes inaccuracies?

The data which IP corresponds to which ISP or location is not from any official source. It's being collected and corrected by whoever has an interest in keeping such a database. This means that naturally, there are some holes in the database.

IP address ranges are being bought and sold, causing this data to become outdated. Data can be added wrong, too specific or too loose. ISPs could give out public IPs to which they don't have the rights, although this should not happen.

What does this mean for me?

In general, nothing. Given that Johor and Kuala Lumpur are relatively close together, and that Kuala Lumpur is the larger of those cities, that the ISP your boyfriend is connecting to has its head office in Kuala Lumpur, thus the connection being displayed as coming from there.


On a more personal level, unless you have a specific reason to assume your boyfriend would lie to you, I see no reason to be suspicious. If you indeed assume this, then I highly recommend you to have a look at Interpersonal Stack Exchange to find a way to rebuild the trust between you and your boyfriend.

1
  • Your answer does a great job of addressing location services based on IP address. I'm not familiar with location services specifically in the context of iPhones. Does iOS use other factors to determine location? Could any of those other factors also contribute to inaccuracy?
    – dwizum
    May 24, 2019 at 15:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .