Print 52 comment(s) - last by AraH.. on Aug 15 at 12:36 PM

Fix may be in the works for flawed iPhone 3G, but can it mend Apple's broken fences?

Yesterday, DailyTech reported that some iPhone 3G users were experiencing below average call quality and that the 3G service was effectively broken in many areas. However, Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T's wireless unit commented, "Overall, the new iPhone is performing just great on our 3G network."

It appears, though, that Apple and AT&T may soon have to address 3G issues publically as two separate internal sources at Apple and an independent analysis have seemingly confirmed there is a major problem, and Apple has a software fix in the works which may help.

First up is an independent analysis by Ny Teknik, Sweden's foremost engineering weekly, which obtained test documents from unknown sources, which indicated the iPhone was well below specified standards for 3G.  The International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based organization, sets and enforces strict standards about the quality associated with products using the 3G moniker.  The deficient 3G iPhone appears to have slipped through the cracks.

According to Ny Teknik’s obtained test report, adjustments between the antenna and an amplifier, which capture the faint signals received by the antenna, are defective.  This makes the phone likely to drop calls and have slower than hoped data speeds.

Next, two unnamed sources with Apple told BusinessWeek  that the Infineon chipset inside the phone is the root of the 3G problems, and that Apple will issue a fix to try to patch over the problems, instead of electing to carry out a full recall.  The report seems to confirm earlier analysis by Richard Windsor of Nomura Securities, which was the first to finger the Infineon chipset for the problems.

The Infineon chip is not physically flawed according to sources, but the chipset software is defective, causing the phone to have trouble switching networks.  One source blames the relatively untested nature of the Infineon chips for this.  They also point out that the iPhone uses far more 3G bandwidth than other phones, thanks to internet surfing.  This means that in heavy use areas, 3G bandwidth can run out.  The phone then is unable to switch networks.

According to the source, the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and certain overseas locales are among the high use areas particularly susceptible to problems.

This seems to be a separate problem than more basic problem described by the Swedes.  However, the two problems may be related and/or compounding each other.

The two sources did confirm that Apple is working on a software update due out at the end of September at the latest, which is supposed to fix the Infineon chipset problems.  In its dismissal statement, AT&T may have hinted at that stating, "We urge our customers to synch iPhone 3G to iTunes frequently to ensure they have the latest software updates."

The update may come too late to make peace with some disgruntled iPhone owners.  Says one user jazzwill on Apple's site, "I'm so sick of hearing people say 'turn off 3G'.  Uh, why pay an extra $10 [for AT&T's iPhone plan] and get a new phone that is advertised to 'just work' then???…. I returned my iPhone 3G because the iPhone 3G stinks in my opinion. I went back to my original iPhone."

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Play with the big boys, deal with big boy issues
By bobcpg on 8/14/2008 10:19:25 AM , Rating: 4
Well I know everyone (even me) was to hear "Apple: it just works". While that rip still applies its better to say that I am happy all this is happening. I think Apple needs a little humbling, if not Apple, at least some of the users do.

RE: Play with the big boys, deal with big boy issues
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 10:26:10 AM , Rating: 4
Apple: "It just works, after we fix it."

By computergeek485 on 8/14/2008 10:39:20 AM , Rating: 5
Apple: "It just works, after we fix it."

Haha yeah just like this picture

By crystal clear on 8/14/2008 11:43:34 AM , Rating: 2

A fix is in the works till then give us a break !

After all it is the essential part of the apple experience.....

RE: Play with the big boys, deal with big boy issues
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 10:30:45 AM , Rating: 4
The sad fact seems to be these days that less stuff from Apple "just works" than it used to. Whether Apple are spreading themselves too thinly or the reason is something else is unclear. I hope they sort out whatever the problem is so that we can go back to the good ol' days.

Perhaps the increased sales means that the statistical blips are becoming more apparent with more users impacted.

RE: Play with the big boys, deal with big boy issues
By Hare on 8/14/2008 1:16:11 PM , Rating: 3
Perhaps the increased sales means that the statistical blips are becoming more apparent with more users impacted.

I've been using Apple products for ages and at least my personal opinion is that nowadays products are really rushed to the market. Previously Apple products had better quality (HW & SW). The previous laptop generation had huge issues with plastics, Leopard was just awful when it came out, not to mention the disaster called MobileMe...

Apple "used to just work" now it seems that they do their testing with actual customers (the early adaptors get hurt the most). This is nothing new. Apple has a bad reputation with rev1 products (new laptop models etc).

RE: Play with the big boys, deal with big boy issues
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 1:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
No argument there. I remember installing Mac OS X 10.3 Panther on its release and thought it was perfect then. Tiger had a number of issues on release that annoyed and, yes, Leopard was terrible on Day 1. Now it's fine for me but it took months to get to that point and it never should have been that way. So now I'm very wary of Day 1 product releases from Apple and that's a shame.

By redbone75 on 8/15/2008 1:36:18 AM , Rating: 1
So now I'm very wary of Day 1 product releases from Apple and that's a shame.

Umm... why wouldn't you be wary of any Day 1 release, regardless of who's behind it?

By daftrok on 8/15/2008 2:25:17 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with companies like Apple is that they can't continue to ride the marketing train forever. Then again marketing is what keeps the cash flowing and helps with expansion. There has to be a middle ground where they can come out with the products they need at a passable quality and the marketing to make it public.

Apple has never made a cellphone before. And as such there will be growing pains. It is an inevitability no matter what you start with. I'm sure that when the first iPods came out there were a plethora of problems, even more so with its transition to PC compatibility. And that is another factor: expansion. The more you expand, the more paramount the errors become. 1,000,000 laptops with 10,000 defective units, no problem. 100,000,000 laptops with 1,000,000 defective units, BIG problem.

Apple works, after the growing pains, transitions, defective units and buggy software. Just like every other electronics company.

By fxyefx on 8/14/2008 11:27:02 AM , Rating: 2
Humbling is the last thing Apple needs as a company, with the image they've created with their marketing. Their marketing is the one part of their output that truly "Just Works."

By Rodney McNaggerton on 8/14/2008 11:26:21 PM , Rating: 3
I do wonder how long Apple can keep up the marketing gimmicks they pull. For example they are the only company that doesn't refresh their laptop lineup until after school has started. Why? Because last years hardware has a higher profit margin, and they have a ton in stock, along with a huge stock of last years ipods and they "give it away" to you, but still rake in a ton of money, because they sell something that is not as up to date and powerful as the competitor. This is a small, and perhaps not as powerful example as the ipod itself. The ipod sells itunes music which forces people to go and buy another ipod. APPLE LOVES DRM, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY MAY SAY. They make a ton of money on it, why wouldn't they like it. I could go on, but I fear being rated down by the pro-Apple readers... and I'm tired =D.

Lesson #1 - Test Before Release
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 10:24:24 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know how much testing was done with the 3G iPhone before release in the US but reports for other locations suggest that the phone was only provided for testing with the local network a couple of days before release. Even if the device is functioning perfectly you'd expect more time than that to be made available prior to release, just in case.

Perhaps not buying one yet is going to turn out to be a smart "plan", which, frankly, was simply the result of not having EUR 600 to blow on one.

RE: Lesson #1 - Test Before Release
By crystal clear on 8/14/2008 11:13:31 AM , Rating: 5
I don't know how much testing was done with the 3G iPhone before release in the US

Didnt you know when you buy an iPhone, you buy yourself a status symbol of a beta tester.

You pay to test their products....

RE: Lesson #1 - Test Before Release
By HrilL on 8/14/2008 11:37:02 AM , Rating: 2
Aww, you beat me to it. Yes apple's first gen products have always been somewhat beta products. And since the iphone 3g is not a second gen iphone it is clearly beta status. Look at the first gen ipods with batteries that ended up lasting 2 hours max.

By crystal clear on 8/14/2008 12:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
After all it is the essential part of the apple experience.....

RE: Lesson #1 - Test Before Release
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 1:15:10 PM , Rating: 3
True, but I had expected the first generation iPhone to be the beta product. After a year and various updates you'd have thought that the 3G iPhone would have been rolled out without issue. So much for that theory...

No logo?
By fishbits on 8/14/2008 10:38:20 AM , Rating: 2
Surely Apple didn't forget to stamp its logo on the iPhone 3G? That act alone boosts the value and performance of its components by threefold. Hopefully the gushing review of the iBox is still accurate.

As Apple expands, it is running into users and members of the press who aren't cultists, but make decisions based on price, performance and quality. "So, explain again why I should pay a $900 premium for the OS compared to the Linux / Windows laptops sitting next to it?" Little more function, little less fashion, please.

RE: No logo?
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 10:51:33 AM , Rating: 2
So, explain again why I should pay a $900 premium for the OS compared to the Linux / Windows laptops sitting next to it?

Usually I would say because you want a hassle-free computing experience. Your own mileage will vary depending upon your own requirements since you may want something that Apple doesn't do well in, such as gaming. Personally, I've had 2 Macs now since getting fed up with XP and they're worth the money to me, and that's what counts given the amount of time they are used for on a daily basis.

The best way to check whether a Mac is right for you is to spend some hands-on time with one doing with it those things that are important to you. In this respect the introduction of the Apple Stores where people can walk in off the street and do just this was absolutely the right thing to do.

RE: No logo?
By nosfe on 8/14/2008 12:18:44 PM , Rating: 3
so what is it that you use mac os for? i use windows to run other programs, i double click a shortcut and it starts the program that i want to work with and that's the end of the "windows experience" for me, how can mac os improve on that?

RE: No logo?
By Hare on 8/14/2008 1:22:27 PM , Rating: 2
Bundled applications, native pdf support, core image support, core audio for zero latency recording, BSD shell and enterprise software out of the box (Apache etc), no viruses or malware to worry about, the UI itself is very intuitive, and the list goes on and on.

Btw. I'm a happy Vista user and prefer it over Mac OS X... Others have different needs and wishes and are more happy with OS X. To each his own.

RE: No logo?
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 1:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
It's an interesting statement but I think we all know that the OS is responsible for much more than simply launching applications. The OS provides a number of services directly to applications running on it, for example, such as open/save dialogs, print services, etc. Additionally, the OS also dictates how you interact with multiple applications running at the same time. And this doesn't even touch on how the OS performs for actually running the applications themselves.

But you are correct that it's the applications that matter rather than the OS. As long as the OS runs the applications that you want and runs them well then that's the most important thing. Find the platform that runs the applications that you want and go from there. For me, that application is Aperture.

Fastest network huh?
By FITCamaro on 8/14/2008 10:16:25 AM , Rating: 2
Until bandwidth runs out. I don't even know how they're making the claim anyway.

RE: Fastest network huh?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 10:23:23 AM , Rating: 4
Not to mention the lack of coverage - the AT&T 3G network in the US is a joke.

RE: Fastest network huh?
By Yawgm0th on 8/14/2008 12:12:52 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have any problems with 3G circa 2008. I have an HTC Kaiser 8925 (AT&T "Tilt") and I get 3G coverage almost everywhere in the Twin Cities metro area, and potentially outside of it. I get Edge in the few locations 3G has issues, and it is bearable for most tasks. Other carriers don't have even remotely comparable service, at least not in MN.

Of course the iPhone is different and deficient in its own ways, especially with 3G access. People who want 3G goodness should stick with the Kaiser and other phones (particularly HTC offerings) superior to the iPhone.

RE: Fastest network huh?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 1:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon's broadband coverage in the Twin Cities area is much wider than AT&T's 3G service. See my links below for coverage maps for both carriers.

Anyone suprised?
By fleshconsumed on 8/14/2008 10:25:40 AM , Rating: 4
This sort of falls under anecdotal evidence, but it seems like almost every major Apple release suffers from significant defects. Scratched screens on nano, paint peeling and color losing iBooks, graphics card crashing problems with new iMacs, overheating iCubes (or what were they called), bricking firmware updates for first iPhone, and now cracking cases and substandard reception for iPhone 3G.

You'd think a company that controls entire development and manufacturing process would have an easy time ensuring quality control.

RE: Anyone suprised?
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 10:34:30 AM , Rating: 3
"Designed by Apple in California. Buggered by the Chinese in Shenzhen."

I'm hoping no one is too offended by that. Apologies if you are.

Hi, Im a iPhone!
By MrPerez on 8/14/2008 10:29:52 AM , Rating: 5
"Hello im a Blackberry and im a iPhone"

BB: Whats new with you iPhone?

iPhone: Lots, i just upgraded to 3G.

BB: How is that going for you?

iPhone: Not as expected, I keep dropping Calls and the data speeds just suck, not sure what could it be.

BB: Might be a Carrier Problem or have you thought about that maybe that your just an over hyped product? Oh a crappy network?

"Blackberry takes out a crap calculating calculator"

BB: Lets see if you add a crappy network along with an over hyped product you get ummm An overly hyped Phone on a Very crappy network!

iPhone: Ouch Blackberry that hurts.

"Apple it just dont work"

RE: Hi, Im a iPhone!
By AraH on 8/15/2008 12:36:50 PM , Rating: 2
apple: it just works

for the slower amongst you, it barely works.

Not a problem!
By pauldovi on 8/14/2008 10:14:33 AM , Rating: 5
Shouldn't be a problem as the main function of the phone, iSmug, seems to be working flawlessly.

"OverHyped" product
By karthikvela on 8/14/2008 12:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
A friend of mine owns a iPhone. He was on cloud nine when he got it, thanks to the much hyped phone of the year (may be decade!!!) but soon started complaining lots of problem.

Apart from poor reception he has his own set of owes – the sensors.

The orientation sensor won’t go off when the phone is turned from portrait to landscape, one has to try turning it again and again to get that right (even when one is not holding parallel to the ground). That’s adds up to the bundle of annoyance.

But then, Apple users are blind to these and still patronize the product blindly without
justification. I would put that as "Apple fanatism”!!

iPhone is just an *over-hyped* product.

RE: "OverHyped" product
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 1:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
You don't spend much time on Apple's support forums, do you? Believe me, Apple users can be very vocal in displaying their dissatisfaction when there's a problem. So, no, we aren't blind to the issues and we certainly aren't silent about them.

You are probably right about the hype but then that's nothing new in any industry. With all the hype about it I was expecting "The Dark Knight" to be the best film ever (sort of, I admit to being dubious) but it wasn't even better than the first film. There's a lot of people out there pulling the media strings and a lot of people fall for it. There's a lot to be said for experiencing something without first knowing anything about it so you can set your own expectations.

By Domicinator on 8/15/2008 9:04:43 AM , Rating: 2
Why didn't they? Because they're electronics, namely computers. No computer company makes a product that always "just works". Even after all the iterations of MacOS, Windows, etc., computers still have a tendency to act quirky sometimes. Apples crash just like everything else does. The iPhone is having problems just like any other phone on the market has the potential for. And here's the big shocker: Apple products are definitely capable of being broken or defective sometimes.

The "it just works" stuff is simply marketing hype, just like the delusion that Macs are incapable of getting viruses or spyware. Apple is a company run by human beings. It's no more infallible than any other company out there, it just has a good marketing department.

By zzebi on 8/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: Really?
By MrPerez on 8/14/2008 11:25:41 AM , Rating: 4
You must be a Apple fan boy? Have you even used a Blackberry? Oh no wait perhaps you havent because its not touch screen.

How can you say its the best phone when the first generation sucked and the new version is just if not worst and yet you say its the best phone, thats a individual opinion not a fact.

No Your wrong apple is on the spot light becuase their products "Just Work", and thats a claim apple made for itself not the consumers. I have used a iPhone for a few months and i ended up selling it and using my BlackBerry Curve on T-Mobile with Firmware witch adds tons of new features like video recording and youtube streams.

RE: Really?
By Inkjammer on 8/14/2008 12:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I love my iPhone... the flaws can be frustrating at times. The phone randomly crashes/reboots when browsing Safari. My friends with 3Gs have the same problem.

My phone has developed severe lag that does not go away unless you reboot the phone. Texting used to be instant, but now if I type in a letter it has a delayed response of about half a second, and it's getting worse over time. Sending an SMS to friends used to be quick. Now it's just frustrating.

Battery life in real world usage is at most 3 to 4 hours. After only 6 months of usage, my standby wait barely squeaks it at under 48 hours. Older Nokia phones could last a week on standby, but me? Not even two days... and I don't use my phone that much, but I'm a slave to the freakin' USB cord to keep it charged.

I still love the iPhone, but... over time, over long term use, the novelty wears thing.

iPhone. It just drains batteries.

RE: Really?
By Chocobollz on 8/14/2008 4:15:52 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I think charging from the USB is a bad joke, its kind like a super slow-charger? Have you ever heard what a "slow charger" is? If not, try to search for those term. I myself won't ever charge my batteries on USB because a slow-charger would kill the batteries faster. A good charger should be able to make the batteries full on less than 2 hours, preferably in 1 hour, and I don't think any USB-charger would be able to do that because the USB specification dictates for a max of 0.5A current for the USB controller. Most good would output 2A of currents so USB obviously far from being a perfect charger.

RE: Really?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 4:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
I myself won't ever charge my batteries on USB because a slow-charger would kill the batteries faster.

Pure bunk. The only thing that will kill that type of battery is temperature extremes - especially heat.

RE: Really?
By robinthakur on 8/15/2008 9:39:43 AM , Rating: 2
Oh purlease. My iPhone 3G does not randomly crash when browsing Safari so I'm not sure why yours or "all your friends'" suffer from this problem. There is no delay whatsoever texting and battery life lasts a whole day comfortably for me under normal conditions. My only thought is that you have a defective iPhone 3G and should look into getting it swapped over. Have you updated to the latest firmware 2.0.1? Alot of the problems I had with the phone disappeared after I did. The iPhone has a much larger, brighter display than virtually any Nokia phone, so I would expect the battery to be worse on the iPhone honestly speaking. Maybe Europe have a different revision, because your experience differs to mine quite markedly.

RE: Really?
By Chaser on 8/14/08, Rating: 0
RE: Really?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 12:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
AT&Ts "horrible 3G network" works great in every decent sized city I work in.

In case you haven't noticed, there is quite a lot of space in between the "decent sized cities" in the US. And that is where AT&T has practically zero coverage. If you compare AT&T's network coverage for high-speed data to their competitors, e.g., Verizon, there's quite a difference. With Verizon, I can get mobile broadband whether I'm in downtown Chicago or camping in the mountains in Colorado.

RE: Really?
By Chaser on 8/14/2008 12:29:35 PM , Rating: 3
Personally I don't really expect 3G in rural areas. But the truth is some carriers don't even have basic phone service in some rural areas. For example Verizon doesn't even have basic phone service in many parts of the wine country of Sonoma County, California. However AT&T works great there.

Again it's subjective. I travel considerably. I don't need 3G in the middle of a swamp, but it definitely works well when I do need it in most cities from coast to coast. Just because it works in some places for you doesn't make it a "horrible 3G network" for everyone else. Try not painting in such broad strokes.

RE: Really?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 12:51:58 PM , Rating: 2
Try not painting in such broad strokes.

OK, fine. AT&T 3G has horrible coverage compared to its competitors offering high-speed data. Does that satisfy you?

All you have to do is look at AT&T's national coverage map, and you'll see they just have very small urban areas covered (shown as dark blue), and pretty much nothing beyond that. You have to zoom in to see the coverage areas in dark blue because they are so small.

Compare that to Verizon, which has cities well covered, as well as large chunks of rural areas as well.

Also, according to Verizon's coverage map, they have service up through broadband in Sonoma County(search their map for Forestville, CA). So I'm not sure where you are getting that information.

RE: Really?
By Chaser on 8/14/2008 2:18:27 PM , Rating: 2
You don't know when to quit do you? I wasn't using a coverage diagram. I was trying to use MY Verizon phone in Northern California. As I said I travel considerably. In my travels from coast to coast what I have found is in some locations AT&T is strong and in some Verizon is. Sorry I can't jump on your AT&T sucks chorus But I don't have enough data to agree. And its based on real usage rather than over optimisitic coverage diagrams. Except when it's AT&T I guess.

Now take a breath.

RE: Really?
By TomZ on 8/14/2008 2:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the point of reviewing the coverage maps is that it gives you a perspective - lets you see the big picture. Driving around and trying this phone and that phone isn't going to really give you a real perspective on nationwide coverage, no matter how much you travel.

And of course each carrier will have weak or dead spots, but again I'm talking about national coverage as a whole, in terms of figuring out which carrier most closely approaches the ideal of 100% coast-to-coast. AT&T is very far from that ideal, especially for 3G, which was my original point.

RE: Really?
By Arc 0V on 8/14/2008 1:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
I love Verizon service, compared to some of my buddies' service (AT&T and TMobile) I get far more reception and 3G reception then they do when we travel around.

RE: Really?
By audiomaniaca on 8/14/2008 12:37:12 PM , Rating: 1
What?? Are you trying to convince people that Apple gets more attention that Microsoft when something goes wrong?

Sony-Ericsson phones are far from being crap, as you said. They're quite good devices, excellent if you will. They do what has to be done (calls and mp3 player) very well and you cannot find people giving bad reports about them.

Now, let's not compare a Sony-Ericsson with a Samsung or Palm Treo. There's no logic in your comparison.

The problem is that everytime there's a problem with a MS product, everyone, specially the fanbois like you, start bashing hard. Now when it comes to Apple problems, nooo, Apple gets 100x more attention, that's why problems show up... Get a life.

RE: Really?
By kelmon on 8/14/2008 1:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
It's a double-edged sword. Apple commands much more media attention than Microsoft and probably any other tech company with the exception of Google. That's great for launching new products but when something goes wrong it also means that your failures gain more media attention. So, yes, I honestly do think that Apple gets more attention than Microsoft when it fails but this is due to the way that it manipulates the media.

On a side note, knock it off with the "fanboi" - it's not a word. The whole "fanboy" term annoys me but mucking about with the spelling just gets on my tits.

RE: Really?
By Inkjammer on 8/14/2008 2:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. A lot of it comes with the territory of Apple putting out commercials that, in essence, are little more than "We're better than you". So when things go wrong or not according to plan people are quick to call attention to the flubs.

Though, I still love the Mac -vs- PC commercials. They're freakin' brilliant.

RE: Really?
By kelmon on 8/15/2008 4:34:27 AM , Rating: 2
We don't get them over here (Belgium) but I've watched a few of them to see what all the fuss was about. In general I don't think they are particularly compelling, not least because you don't see the product. However, the Security one was rather amusing.

Still, perhaps they are intended mostly to pique interest such that you go into an Apple Store and spend some hands-on time. That's definitely the best way to appreciate things.

RE: Really?
By MrPerez on 8/14/2008 2:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
He spends his days at apple stores playing with apples HUGE product line up (all 3), The iPod, MAC and iPhone.

While he spends 1000.00+ on a MAC i can build me a Windows Based PC no wait TWO Windows based PC's for that price.

And i still have a question that i havent gotten a real answer for, what is the iPhones realy for?

Blackberry is kick of the corporate world, what is apple trying to do go after RIM? Crazy times!

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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