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Problems continue for the hot new phone; Apple locks down angry users' threads

The iPhone 3G was supposed to be Apple's latest media darling, the successor to the device Time magazine called the "invention of the year".  In some effects the iPhone 3G has achieved this mercurial success -- but perhaps in sales only.  It quickly sold 1 million phones and oodles of applications and has cruised comfortably to sales of 3 million phones worldwide.

However, problems have prevented ever since launch.  The launch was muddled by problems connecting to Apple's servers.  Then there were reports that the new iPhone's plastic casing, part of the price cutting measures that had slashed the iPhone's price from $399 to $199, was defective and cracking.

Now more tough news has come for Apple with reports that the iPhone 3G is committing the cardinal sin of cell phones -- being unable to make a good connection consistently in covered areas.  The Apple message boards are ablaze with angry users complaining of dropped calls or poor call quality even with relatively good signal strength.

One user, Mr. Yarbrough, a 34-year-old accountant, describes, "I was driving down Folsom Street in San Francisco, and I got a dropped call 10 times. I get dropped calls just standing in one place.  I'm extremely annoyed, but I'm hopeful a software update will fix it."

It is unclear exactly how widespread the problem is as the message boards are a poor way to ascertain levels of failure.  The main thread on the Apple boards had 746 comments, when it was locked by Apple, allegedly because it, "was too long and some browsers were timing out."  Further adding to the difficulty of coming to any such metrics is the fact that Apple is denying that anything out of the ordinary is going on

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel states, "How a device performs in individual situations depends on circumstances like where you are in the 3G coverage, how close you are to a cell site. Things like terrain and buildings all come into play.  I'm not denying that people are having a less than satisfactory experience, but overall, the phone is doing great."

So what exactly is causing the problems?  Some users say that the problem is with faulty SIM cards.  They say after replacing the card their quality improved and problems disappeared.  However, one analyst, Richard Windsor of Nomura, is entirely convinced that the Infineon chipset on the phone is the source of the problems.  He says the dropped calls, service interruptions, and abrupt network switches resemble problems that phones with Infineon-based 3G chips had when first launching in Europe.

He writes, "We believe that these issues are typical of an immature chipset and radio protocol stack where we are almost certain that Infineon is the 3G supplier.  This is not surprising as the Infineon 3G chipset solution has never really been tested in the hands of users. Some people will not experience these problems as it is only in areas where the radio signal weakens that the immaturity of the stack really shows."

He says that no firmware update will fix the flawed phones.  However, he adds the problems may be limited to a specific batch of phones or certain build of the phone.  Who is to blame?  Mr. Nomura says to blame Apple.  He says, "this shows the risk of not going with a tried and tested solution."

Infineon says it’s looking into whether Mr. Nomura's comments on the chipset never before seeing deployment was true.

In the meantime problems continue to pile on from around the world.  T-Mobile Netherlands, frustrated by similar connection issues, has issued a statement acknowledging that problems exist and blaming its partner Apple for them.  The company posted a blog in Dutch, which crudely translates to, "The 3G coverage of T-Mobile is as good as the competition, there can therefore not lie (sic). We suspect that it is a hardware / software specific issue of the iPhone itself."

It appears that T-Mobile is currently the only partner to have acknowledged the problems. 

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RE: 3G Issue
By Brandon Hill on 8/13/2008 10:10:02 AM , Rating: 5
I turned 3G off on my iPhone everything worked better.

Then what's the point of buying an iPhone 3G?

**Shrugs Shoulders**

RE: 3G Issue
By stinkyj on 8/13/2008 10:19:05 AM , Rating: 3
All the reviewers of the original IPhone thought it was a dud, b/c it didn't have 3G. What these nice journalists didn't tell everyone is 3G coverage is spotty at best in a lot of areas in the US. It's getting better, but not even close to GPRS/EDGE coverage.

RE: 3G Issue
By Souka on 8/13/2008 11:01:55 AM , Rating: 5
And lets not forget the other important feature a cell phone should have... battery life....

With 3G in use, reviews have clearly show the dramatic impact on battery life.

My Co-worker who waited in line for the 1st iPhone, waited in line for the 3G iPhone. He typically charges it 2x a day now...with the 1st gen. iphone he only charged it when sleeping at night.

I suggested he turn off 3G... but his comment was like that of above... "why get 3G then?"


RE: 3G Issue
By Adonlude on 8/13/2008 1:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
Battery life isn't the best but it seemed like I saw some improvement after allowing a few full charge/discharge cycles to take place. I would guess I saw 10-20% improvement. Maybe the charge indicator needed to see a few cycles to self calibrate? Maybe the battery needed to be worked a bit?

That being said, I now have a power cable attached to my work computer, one to my home computer, one in a home outlet for when my computer is turned off, and one in my car... so what does that tell you?

FYI: Dealextreme sells perfectly good cloned iphone charging cables for like $2.50 a pop.

RE: 3G Issue
By omnicronx on 8/13/2008 11:21:34 AM , Rating: 3
The phone should still fallback to other proticals when the 3g signal becomes too weak, just as it does with other phones. It just does not make sense that calls would be dropping like this unless there was an issue with the radio in general.

RE: 3G Issue
By Cobra Commander on 8/13/2008 12:12:57 PM , Rating: 1
I don't know stinkyj, 3G's coverage situation is pretty much a given and I don't think that demonstrates a lack of journalistic integrity in the slightest.

For example, I know I'm glad that Car & Driver does not discuss the pros and cons of a combustion engine every time they review a specific car.

If someone truly needs 3G and they don't know about its coverage then sucks to them if they're disappointed due to their ignorance.

And knowing business professional who legitimately utilize their 1st-gen iPhone for business... yeah, they needed 3G.

RE: 3G Issue
By JustTom on 8/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: 3G Issue
By EricMartello on 8/13/2008 11:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
And knowing business professional who legitimately utilize their 1st-gen iPhone for business... yeah, they needed 3G.

No self-respecting professional would be using an idiotPhone for business purposes other than to sell them. BlackBerry's are really the best choice when it comes to business - unless said professional is more concerned with being "hip" than actually having useful functionality.

RE: 3G Issue
By teng029 on 8/13/2008 4:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
agreed. i also agree that it will only get better. for now, i ususally have a wifi connection when i use the internet and the EDGE network suffices for most everything else.

as for the previous poster who asked what the point was of buying an iphone 3G? because i wanted one.

RE: 3G Issue
By DASQ on 8/13/08, Rating: -1
RE: 3G Issue
By 306maxi on 8/13/2008 10:27:41 AM , Rating: 3
You don't get it! Now with the 3g phone you can act snobby and pretentious towards users of other brands of phone as well as non-3G iPhone users.

I've had my N95 for over a year now. I don't get the big deal with a phone that has features others have had for years.

RE: 3G Issue
By FITCamaro on 8/13/2008 10:42:43 AM , Rating: 5
They didn't have an Apple logo on them. Therefore they're inferior.

RE: 3G Issue
By gyranthir on 8/13/2008 11:12:52 AM , Rating: 3
Apple Snobbery is a lot like Hybrid Vehicle Snobbery.

Reminds me of the Southpark Hybrid Vehicle Episode, haha.

RE: 3G Issue
By Dark Legion on 8/14/2008 6:32:49 AM , Rating: 2
And when the cloud of smug from iPhone 3G users hits the cloud of smug from hybrid owners, it will be the end of all life as we know it.

RE: 3G Issue
By corduroygt on 8/13/2008 12:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm with you there...My N95 8GB is better than the iphone in every aspect besides screen size and resolution. I'd buy if Nokia made an iphone like device, because Apple treats their customers the same way China treats their citizens.

RE: 3G Issue
By robinthakur on 8/14/2008 5:31:39 AM , Rating: 2
The iPhone looks better (It doesn't look an old fashioned Nokia/SE phone) and is easier to use than the N95 whilst being a similar price. The features which it lacks versus my old N95 are not as important to me because a) I never really made proper use of them and b) iPhone gets way more attention.

Since then I've had 2 iPhone 2G's and 1 3G and wouldn't go back to Nokia despite a vague interest in the N96. It just looks a bit clunky and antiquated, regardless of the tech under the plastic shell.

I think the China comment is a little OTT. Repeat after me "It is only a phone!" Its telling that everybody is racing to copy and catch up to Apple's software, but also a bit sad from a giant like Nokia, who should be leading the market, and not following Apple's coat-tails.

RE: 3G Issue
By corduroygt on 8/14/2008 10:01:08 AM , Rating: 2
Easier to use can be debated, I find my N95 very easy to use and I can text with one hand. I tried typing on the iphone and it's pretty hard without concentrating, but that's just my blunt fingers not good enough for the ultra elite Apple.

You may not need the features but me and many people do, I also pay $15/month for the same data plan you're paying $30/month, and that's before my 25% corporate discount. With the N95 I don't need a digital camera when I go out and may need to take casual photos or video. You can't say the same about the iphone's camera.

b) iPhone gets way more attention.

So you buy a phone to get attention? Fail.

Apple is exactly like china, they want to control you. Nokia cannot disable an application I install on my N95, but Apple sure can. I also don't have to download my apps from a single store.

By the way, there's a fire in Apple HQ today. Must be a caused by a macbook battery.

RE: 3G Issue
By Chocobollz on 8/14/2008 4:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
and I can text with one hand.

I think anyone could do texting with one hand, but can you do it faster than I do on my Siemens? ;-) Siemens is the best phones for texting, I've used several phones from Siemens, Nokia, and Sony-Ericsson and there's no one could beat my Siemens on texting-speed! :-)

And I think most of Nokia are bad jokes, a couple friend of mine have some Nokia N9x and I'm always laughing when I see their phones, I don't know about you but I think Nokia have the worst build quality, especially the casing. And their style are just boring. From long time, Nokia is my last options when I've plans to buy a cellphones ~_~.

RE: 3G Issue
By robinthakur on 8/15/2008 10:04:24 AM , Rating: 3
I can also text with one hand. The iPhone keyboard does indeed take some getting used to but once you are used to it, its fast and the word correction is pretty accurate. Or maybe you simply have fat fingers, in which case the iPhone is not for you.

I do take many pictures with the iPhones camera and upload them geotagged to Facebook et al. It serves its purpose and I've never had any complaints about the shots it takes (in daylight lol) If I want to take serious photos I just use my DSLRs or my point and shoot. I notice you don't mention the music playback? Its a pretty crucial feature and it pisses all over the N95's equivalent facility from a great height.

The cost of the phones is inconsequential to me, I just want a phone I can use without inconvenience and which doesn't muck up the line of my suit. I'll get an N956 when it comes out to see what they're like but I seriously doubt it will suit me better than the iPhone. The iPhone is not a value range aimed at people on a budget, get over it.

The iPhone whether you like it or not looks considerably better than the brick-like N95, and just because you seem not to care, this is not going to be representative of everybody. The attention that the iPhone brings is not always good attention (i.e. people wanting to steal it) but its a small bonus and the fact that its always a talking point is no bad thing in my books. I care about the way my phone looks just as much as the features and the N95 was brick like and antiquated. It was very obvious that it was a 'computer' as Nokia like to refer to it and if I wanted a long spec-sheet with zero usability in my pocket I'd just carry a HTC phone again, but the world has moved on.

Lastly the Apps store on iPhone is so many leagues beyond how things operate on the N95 there's no point arguing with you on it. Anyone who's used both would agree that the way in which its integrated with the iPhone is second to none and the range of software will only increase in time. The fact that you get them all from one source is a good thing to me.

RE: 3G Issue
By Procurion on 8/14/2008 10:07:33 AM , Rating: 2
Let me get this straight.....You've bought THREE iPhones in about a year and your two reasons for buying them (at $400+/- per)is because you like the attention people pay to your phone and you don't use all of the features. But you make a smart alec comment about it only being a phone? And you mention your "old" N95 (released in March/2007) as being clunky. By my count you have spent a MINIMUM of $1600 in less than 1.5 years....."it is only a phone!!".

RE: 3G Issue
By Chocobollz on 8/14/2008 4:37:26 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, when he says that his N95 were "clunky", I think he's serious, because I feel it too.. Honestly, I think most Nokia phones are "clunky". And I don't have an iPhone.

RE: 3G Issue
By robinthakur on 8/15/2008 9:46:44 AM , Rating: 2
No. I think you have thinks ass about face. I bought the first two from the US due to your weak dollar and rosold them after getting to know them for a large profit in the UK. Then I got a 3G on contract. I've still not paid anything for the iPhone as I'm still on the profits. Not as stupid as you might think ;)

RE: 3G Issue
By robinthakur on 8/15/2008 10:18:50 AM , Rating: 2
By my count you have spent a MINIMUM of $1600 in less than 1.5 years

You say it like its a bad thing? At least I'm keeping this economy moving, dammit! :) They are only phones and it is only money at the end of the day. I said that I didn't use all the features of the N95, I would say I use the features of the iPhone pretty well by comparison because they are easier to access. I actually had an original 'plum' N95 and then I have a 8GB black one also. As mentioned above, I like to have a phone I'm comfortable with, and the iPhone actually sailed rather close to the wind the other day when i upgraded the firmware to 2.0.1 and it got stuck in a loop. Watch yourself iphone 3G, there's always a younger model out there ;)

RE: 3G Issue
By plinkplonk on 8/16/2008 8:07:34 AM , Rating: 2
right so what you're saying is that you care more for how it looks and how cool you look using it rather than how it works?

RE: 3G Issue
By MrBlastman on 8/13/2008 10:28:40 AM , Rating: 4
'Cause it has that shiny Apple seal of approval on it!

*notices something shiny* oooooh! ... walks off chasing the shiny object.

RE: 3G Issue
By othercents on 8/13/2008 10:56:41 AM , Rating: 2
Then what's the point of buying an iPhone 3G?

Because you can. Phones are like cars. I buy one every year. =)

If you already own an original iPhone there isn't a reason to upgrade, but for me I like the interface, iPod capabilities, and GPS much better than my Samsung Blackjack. However I did stand in line with 5 other people who all had the original iPhones and wanted the 3G and GPS.

The new 2.0.1 update has fixed some of the lockup and slowness issues that was frustrating me before.


RE: 3G Issue
By Brandon Hill on 8/13/2008 11:07:00 AM , Rating: 2
No, my question is with regards to the person paying $10 a month more in service fees for 3G (compared to the original iPhone), then not even using it.

Other than the GPS, you've basically got the same functionality in the first-gen unit if you disable the 3G, and a more robust phone (not some plastic backing like the 3G model).

RE: 3G Issue
By othercents on 8/13/2008 11:39:14 AM , Rating: 1
Actually I'm paying $10 a month less than my Blackjack which is $5 more than most iPhone 3G people are paying (some business service plan). Plus, I purchased the phone before I knew the 3G was causing service problems. The original iPhone isn't available from ATT and wasn't available for a month before the 3G came out, so I would have to have known before the 3G was announced that I would have this problem unless I wanted to buy from eBay.

I have already asked ATT if they can change my service plan because 3G is turned off and they said no, but if given the choice to buy a 3G or an original phone from ATT, I would still purchase the 3G. The GPS has already saved me time and money which worth way more than $10 a month. Plus I can still use 3G if I need to and the black back is useful as a mirror when you are about to go into a board meeting (get those doughnut sprinkles out of your teeth).

However this might not be for you. You should assess your financial situation and decide if $10 a month is too much. I say quit buying those doughnuts and you will be fine.

BTW. My original post was informational for those people who are having service problems with their iPhone 3Gs. That is my fix, take it or leave it.


RE: 3G Issue
By Brandon Hill on 8/13/2008 12:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I have the best of both worlds. I have an el cheapo cell phone with Alltel with a cheap rate plan and a 32GB iPod touch. I don't really need the GPS as I have one in my car and it puts the iPhone 3G's limited functionality to shame -- the iPod touch's WiFi triangulation makes do in a pinch if I'm away from my car.

RE: 3G Issue
By HrilL on 8/13/2008 12:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
The only problem with that is that you now need to carry two devices on you at a time. Not something I'd want to do.

RE: 3G Issue
By othercents on 8/13/2008 1:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
Three devices. Phone, GPS, and iPod Touch. Then maybe a 4th device to access his email and get timely updates. Plus when you fly to another city you will need to run all that through security. Not to mention international flights and customs.

I used a single phone for a long time, but I need immediate email updates when I'm not in the office or at my desk. However not everyone needs this, and I expect only 5% of the people who got an iPhone do and the other 95% are under the age of 18.


RE: 3G Issue
By Brandon Hill on 8/13/2008 1:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
I don't carry my GPS with me, it stays in my car. Why do I need GPS if I'm not in my car anyway?

The iPod touch does email; my phone does email as well. The iPod touch is basically an iPhone without cell capabilities/Bluetooth/speaker/mic.

So I have two devices that I regularly carry. So that's 4.9 ounces for my iPod touch w/silicon case and 3.0 ounces for my LG phone. Yeah, that's so much of a burden -- woe is me :)

RE: 3G Issue
By OPR8R on 8/13/2008 9:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
I was in the same boat... GPS in car, Samsung D900 in my pocket and 4G iPod Color in my briefcase. It worked, but keeping track of my phone and iPod got annoying.

I wish someone else invented it, but I can't help but acknowledge that the iPhone is special, even with all of its faults.

You won't see me in Starbucks w/a Macbook though...

RE: 3G Issue
By Parhel on 8/13/2008 2:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
Three devices. Phone, GPS, and iPod Touch.

In theory maybe. In practice, there is no software for the iPhone that would take the place of an actual GPS.

RE: 3G Issue
By robinthakur on 8/14/2008 5:22:54 AM , Rating: 2
Currently. Give the developers a chance to put something together. Tom Tom has already gone on record as stating that it is bringing its navigation turn by turn to the iPhone.

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