Print 55 comment(s) - last by plinkplonk.. on Aug 16 at 8:07 AM

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 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.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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