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What's the Problem With iPhone 3G Reception? 322

Posted by Soulskill
from the solar-flares dept.
CWmike writes "Apple's iPhone 3G was just a couple of days old when reports began trickling onto the company's support forum from dissatisfied customers complaining about poor reception. Although no one outside of Apple and AT&T — and maybe a chipmaker or two — really knows, that has not kept others from speculating, or in a few cases, making claims based on unnamed sources. What's going on? We may not have all the answers, but we do have questions. Gregg Keizer put together everything we know in a FAQ on the griping about iPhone 3G reception."
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What's the Problem With iPhone 3G Reception?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:30AM (#24634135)

    We've all made our own Canadian version of the iPhone:

    1. take your regular plain old cellphone
    2. buy an iPod touch
    3. buy duct-tape
    4. if you can't figure out step four by yourself, please return your Handyman membership card to Red Green.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:33AM (#24634151) Homepage

    And there is an article (auto-translated article in link) in the Swedish magazine Ny Teknik [google.com] (New Tehcnology) about this too.

    So it's a problem that is well discussed these days.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A Cellphone is two parts
      1) a radio transceiver
          and
      2) a computer ,
      I wonder whose radio it uses ?
      . A poorly designed radio can destroy a cellphones usability , dropped calls, poor range, noisy calls .
      And the consumer is foolishly not concerned with this until it's really poor .
        This radio part of a cellphone is probably the most important .

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:46AM (#24634661) Journal
        I wonder whose radio it uses ?

        Infineon.

        But the problem may lie with the way Apple's software uses the radio [businessweek.com].

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:27AM (#24634985)

          But the problem may lie with the way Apple's software uses the radio [businessweek.com].

          I know that I have full faith in the detailed engineering analysis ordered by a speculating stock broker. Which was then off-handedly barked to a respected journal such as Business Week.

          It is good to see others do too. That's why our economy is so awesomely strong.

        • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:16PM (#24635341) Homepage

          And from another source [cnet.com] there have been information that the Infineon chipset never had been tested in a production environment.

          And if it is the chipset it may be possible that a software upgrade is insufficient.

          So I suspect that we haven't heard the last of this story yet.

          At least - this is the danger of being the first on new technology, and I'm happy that I didn't buy the iPhone. Even if it is a good design it seems to be more design and less function.

          • Not True (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @02:56PM (#24636657)

            1) Samsung handsets use the same Infineon 3G chipset and side by side have been shown to not have the same problems as the iphone

            2)I have an iphone. It worked great for 1 week and then the data service stopped working.

            The phone hasnt changed. It's a network issue. As more iphones have come on in big cities they just cant serve the demand.

            So its the phone which could be performing better (as seen by the side by side Sansung comparison) >and its the network (as seen by many people whose service only recently went to hell but used to be fine)

            • Not Nessasarily true. Ok in the USA, GSM technology may be nascent. Certainly 3G is not so widespread. Here in Europe, especially UK, 3G has been around for much longer. We already make heavy use of it, and you can buy USB dongles with a SIM card, to have mobile internet, at up to 3.6Mbps (in some cases, up to 7Mbps). This is already popular amongst Business users, and also Tennants, who do not wish to fit a DSL line, yet require fast internet. So the technology is pretty mature, and usable.

              Yet the iPhone 3

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              BZZZT: The Blackjack is renown for it's poor reception in fringe areas.

              In fact it seems from my observations that the iPhone3G actually does better than the Blackjack and BlackJackII in fringe areas.

              NOTE: fringe means edge of AT&T land. AT&T INTENTIONALLY sets this to not release from an AT&T tower until it absolutely has to. if you have 2 towers nearby with 100% signal that are non AT&T and 1 that is a 10% signal that is a AT&T the phone will choose the AT&T tower.

              I had hacked m

      • by Niten (201835) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:06AM (#24634823)

        A Cellphone is two parts
        1) a radio transceiver
        and
        2) a computer ,

        <SteveJobsRDF>

        ... and an iPod, and an Internet communications device!

        </SteveJobsRDF>

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by weicco (645927)

      There's also some discussion at finnish technology news sites. One site tells that "3G problems have been reported from USA, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Japan so it looks like this is not operator related problem" (my translation).

  • by mrSteveBallmer (1345863) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:39AM (#24634191)
    Apple sells crappy products! If you stick with a majority company like MS you will have no problems people! http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      I don't know if this is a joke or not... The general drive to push products at an increasing speed forces the manufacturers to push out sub-standard devices on the market.

      And many of the devices are programmed mainly in C/C++ which we all know is a double-edged technology since it gives good performance but it is also prone to weird bugs like wild pointers etc.

  • by ez151 (835695) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:39AM (#24634197)
    It is extremely frustrating the amount of dropped calls and call failed's I get. I had a sony-erickson for 3 years and had maybe 3 or 4 dropped calls and maybe 2 or 3 times when i cannot make a call. I do those numbers in like 3 days of iphone use. It is not my area, I always have 3g, but the bars do fluctuate wildly from 1 or 2 to 3 or 4 in the same location. I love the phone but i am worried if this is a problem they can fix or will it get worse?
    • What's interesting is the fact that even after this and other numerous problems with this particular device, majority of the post (on /., Engadget, Apple forums etc) about them would include something like "I love the phont, but..."

      What's wrong with you? How would you "love" your phone if you can't use it for its primary purpose? Is it mandatory to "love" this phone? Would you burn in hell if you don't? Or most of the people just lack balls to say that you don't "love" it anymore?

      Mass acceptance by fo
      • by pcolaman (1208838) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:20AM (#24634443)
        Duh, because it's made by Apple. Part of their laminated Apple Fanboy Membership Card requires them to begin any disparaging comment regarding Apple products with "I love (Apple product name goes here), but..."
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          [sigh] wankers like you are far more rabid than the average mac user.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by JohnBailey (1092697)

            [sigh] wankers like you are far more rabid than the average mac user.

            And nobody has anything against the average apple user. Perfectly rational reasonable people for the most part I would assume. Just like the average Windows user, or the average Linux user, or the average blackberry user, or the average ebook user. They can accept that not everyone wants the same thing from their consumer elexctronics, and are happy to agree that I want to do something that they don't, so Apple products may not suit my needs..

            The embarrassing ones are the ones that take any non devotional s

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mccabem (44513)

          (Sorry, some of this will sound US-centric, cuz I am.....I'm pretty sure these concepts apply to other markets too....lemme know.)

          Haven't you noticed that people in general seem afflicted with that "love of cellphone"?

          "I love my phone, but..." your carrier, [Verizon|AT&T|Sprint|etc], sucks and you're obligated to them for how long???

          All phones are insanely expensive when you consider the contract. (Why the f**k do I even need a contract again???) Even a bottom-end phone on a pay-go plan is stoopid exp

      • by vertinox (846076) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:57AM (#24634739)

        What's wrong with you? How would you "love" your phone if you can't use it for its primary purpose? Is it mandatory to "love" this phone? Would you burn in hell if you don't? Or most of the people just lack balls to say that you don't "love" it anymore?

        I think what he is trying to say "When it works, its works better than anything else out there in terms of functionality or meeting my personal preference."

        Its like old Ultima Online. I loved to play that game to death but the game client was so damn buggy it crashed all the damn time.

        It was a very love hate relationship. Sure I could play text muds, but it wasn't the same.

        Hope that makes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:02PM (#24635257)

        as an iphone owner, I can say, yes it is OK to NOT love the phone. I don't care what they say, the iphone is a half-assed phone, a half-assed media player and a half assed-pda. It gets NONE of those functions right. It has a wonderful browser, and that it it.

        I carry one because I got tired of carrying 3 devices, so I settled for a single device that has one good feature and the rest is crap. I previous carried a Zen Vision:M, nice interface, 30GB, 4 hours video, 15 hours audio and it played everything I threw at it, not I have a player that gets about 1.5 hours video, and about 8-10 hours audio, plays 2 formats of audio (mp3 and aac) and plays 2 formats of video. I previously had a PDA that was open enough to allow me to install what I wanted on it with thousands of pieces of software available. My Toshibe e805 was higher resolution, and could act as a USB host to add a mouse and keyboard if I wanted, it could even, with a $20 adapter output to a VGA monitor to allow for powerpoint presentations. It wasn't 3G, but I previously carried a Nokia 6126, which is probably one of their best flip phones.

        I DID love those devices, they were all fantastic devices that did their jobs very well. I will not buy another iphone, I will go back to 3 devices when this one dies, and considering the battery problems I am starting to have as I approach the 1 year mark, that is probably going to happen soon. I will miss the great browser on the iphone, but in all honesty, that is the only thing I will miss about the iphone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by stuboogie (900470)
          "as an iphone owner, I can say, yes it is OK to NOT love the phone."

          However, you can only do so anonymously. :)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by wcb4 (75520)

            I'll will state non-anonymously that I will not buy another iphone for the exact same reasons. I'll go back to the multiple devices I used to have before the iphone when this one dies. Are there any other phones out there with as good a browser? Maybe the wife would like my iphone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by shmlco (594907)

          "... the iphone is a half-assed phone, a half-assed media player and a half assed-pda. It gets NONE of those functions right."

          Actually, I like the phone. It makes many things easy to access and obvious (like conference calling/joining, vm message handling) that were downright arcane on my previous RAZR.

          As to being a media player, I find the "touch" interface to be far superior to that of the iPod, and especially to that of the new "split-screen" iPod interface. One could always wish for more storage space,

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        It's probably in the same way you can love a beautiful woman (man) even though that person is stupid as a rock.

        Apple is hard working on our feelings and not on the logic part of our minds.

        Microsoft is selling the technology on their name and has at least some level of functionality, even though their mobile devices has about the same stability as Windows for Workgroups 3.11. - Which means that they usually work as long as you don't do too strange things with them.

      • by BlueStraggler (765543) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:35PM (#24635479)

        What's wrong with you? How would you "love" your phone if you can't use it for its primary purpose?

        Personally, because I despise its primary purpose, but am obligated to carry a cell phone with me.

        Unfortunately, my iPhone has so far been way more reliable than my old Sony-Erickson. Anyone know how to enable this poor reception feature?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jslater25 (1005503)
        I have owned my iPhone for a couple weeks now, and I am SERIOUSLY irritated by it. I don't love it by any stretch of the imagination. I totally agree with your statement, asking why people love it when it doesn't work. Poorly integrated services. Example, I add a birthday to a contact in my address book. It doesn't automatically generate an appointment in my calendar? WTF? Stupid. Another example: I type an address for a contact. I can't simply click a hyperlink to see that address in Google Maps? Dumb. I c
      • by MrMr (219533)
        My guess: It is psychological process related to the stockholm syndrome [wikipedia.org] and cognitive dissonance [wikipedia.org] reduction.
        The corrollary: If I paid that much for something I hate; I must be really stupid. So I cannot hate it...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cgenman (325138)

        the interface is great. It handles voicemail, Internet surfing, mapping, and many other functions far more smoothly and easily than any other phone out there. For gods sake when the iPhone was introduced the razor represented the best of American phone options. It is definitely possible to love a phone with reception problems, just as easily as it is to hate 100 regular phones that had great reception and an interface designed by ADHD teenagers in desperate need of a bugzilla account.

    • by pyrofx (602240) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:24AM (#24634973) Homepage
      I went with a friend to the Apple store for him to get the new iPhone. While standing there I stated comparing my version 1 iPhone to the new ones. While holding them side by side for a size comparison I noticed the new version had only 3 bars while my phone had 5 bars. I thought it may have been this particular phone but nope every phone in the store had 3 bars! I'm waintg for version 3 if my battery will hold out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I initially had problems with reception my 3G iPhone and my partner had similar trouble with hers, but once we turned off the wi-fi auto connect feature and wi-fi in general all the reception problems ceased - I found much the same problem/solution with iPhone 1.0.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:41AM (#24634203)

    ...it's because you're not praying hard enough. Try prostrating yourself towards Cupertino five times a day.

  • by darien (180561) <darien.gmail@com> on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:42AM (#24634225)

    My reception's fine, but I really wish Apple would hurry up and fix the slow [apple.com] typing [apple.com] bug [apple.com]...

    It sounds like a trivial thing, but coupled with the inherent inaccuracy of the iPhone keyboard it makes the phone barely usable for text messaging...

    • I like the "keypad" (Score:4, Interesting)

      by spineboy (22918) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:29AM (#24634545) Journal

      I have no problems with the touchscreen on the iPhone, but my wife doesn't like it.

      I seem to be able to two thumb type on it faster than my previous phone.

      Do you have fat fingers possibly? I really like the error correction, and the fact that it "learns" new words. One of my Farsi speaking friends has added a whole new vocabulary to her phone via this way.

      • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:14AM (#24634891)
        I don't think you understood the problem - difficulty typing on the touchscreen is one issue, but apparently people are also getting sluggish response from it, which is a separate issue. Way to pin it on fat fingers, though.
      • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Sunday August 17, 2008 @01:20PM (#24635797)
        There's a horrible lag on the keyboards. I know I have a lag on mine. I could type an entire word and still wait a second before it pops up. At that point you gotta hope you didn't have a typo, or at least not a typo that autocorrection won't fix.

        On a different note, how do you get it to learn new words? I have it autocorrecting the same words all the time no matter how often I tell it not to.
    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Actually, I think this bug is in the process of being fixed. I heard the beta firmware 1.02 addresses this issue already.

      (But due to terms of their NDA, all of this could just be a fabrication too....)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Niten (201835)

      ... except that, from all appearances, this actually is a terrible design flaw, and it can neither be described as "minor" nor "rarely-occurring".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kent Recal (714863)

        Also it's a hard case of "epic QA failure".

        What were apple and t-mobile thinking that made them roll out a multimillion dollar product without a friggin' field test? Maybe they had a deadline to meet but I'm quite sure the bill for this blooper will by far dwarf any advantages that they had anticipated. By what I've read on the net it seems like every new iPhone is affected. That means pretty much every new iPhone will be returned... Ouch!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2008 @09:59AM (#24634315)

    There are several reasons that might lead to these
    problems:

    - bad antenna design
    - interference noise from other electronics in the handset
    - bugs in protocol processing

    The most surprising aspect is that Apple and AT&T
    probably knew about this much before the launch. The
    amount of testing required on a cell phone to get
    certification is enormous. Unless, at&t waived all testing for the iphone, it is pretty certain that they have seen the problems in the lab. And
    this is the question. How can they release the
    product if they know it has problems?

    For anyone interested see the process for GCF and PTRCB certifications, that include both
    Over-The-Air tests, drive tests and protocol tests.

    • I worked with a guy who was involved in the testing at the FCC lab in MD. He said word came down from above to "rubber stamp" the original iPhone without ANY testing on their behalf.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:01AM (#24634325)

    I live in a relatively rural area, but close enough to a large city that I can get 3G service at home. I was (and returned to) using a Samsung BlackjackII. I was able to use it without any issues at all and got 3G and EDGE service at and near my home. When I brought the new iphone home, I was unable to get anything other than a standard connection (no EDGE and no 3G) and sometimes I couldn't even get a reliable enough signal to make simple phone calls. After a few days of frustration, I returned it to the store and went back to the BlackjackII.

    Just another datapoint.

  • Not new to iPhone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The_Quinn (748261) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:04AM (#24634347) Homepage
    AT&T has had these kind of problems for years with their 3G service, it only took a successful platform to bring their shortcomings into the public light.
    • Re:Not new to iPhone (Score:4, Interesting)

      by uberbrodt (1064400) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:23AM (#24634483) Homepage
      It has always been my experience that 3G service is spotty, no matter what phone you use. Personally, I'll stick with my Treo 755p; Palm OS may be a dinosaur, but at least I can make phone calls.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by frglrock (992261)

      From what I have read, this is a global problem. So no, it has nothing to do with AT&T (or any other phone company) and everything to do with the iPhone.

    • Re:Not new to iPhone (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ptbarnett (159784) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:30AM (#24634549)

      AT&T has had these kind of problems for years with their 3G service, it only took a successful platform to bring their shortcomings into the public light.

      I suspect that it's a combination of both: the network problems are just aggravating the iPhone's marginal 3G performance.

      After I had the iPhone for a few days (and had departed on a trip to a client with marginal 3G coverage inside their building), I "turned off" 3G in the phone settings, forcing it to fall back to EDGE and stay there. It has worked great in that mode, and I've since left it that way.

      You lose the ability to use the network and talk on the phone at the same time, but I rarely do that. If I want to use the Safari browser for anything significant, I take the 3-4 seconds required to turn on 3G for the duration, and turn it off when I'm done.

      It appears to significantly extend battery life as well.

    • by nxtw (866177)

      I've been using AT&T 3G since November 2006 (about a month after the coverage was turned on in this market); coverage was spotty at first, but things got better within a few months. Dropped calls weren't uncommon on 3G back then and the phone would often switch between 3G and GSM unnecessarily. I don't remember the last time I had a dropped call or had the phone switch between 3G and GSM excessively.

      When I have a problem with 3G, the call/data session should gets handed off to GSM no problem.

    • by dbitter1 (411864)

      Agreed. I have an HTC Tytn II- wouldn't touch the iJunk with a 10' pole- and I've turned off 3G. Between the battery hunger and spotty/dropped calls, no ring, etc, 3G just isn't that great. Do what others say- just use EDGE, and the phone is a dream.

  • The answer is simple (Score:5, Informative)

    by JamesP (688957) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @10:37AM (#24634591)

    Infineon chips. (ex-Siemens)

    I had the displeasure of working with products from this company, it is as fun as having a fork stuck in your eye.

    Crappy documentation, flaky concepts, incompatible versions, etc.

  • I seem to have the opposite problem, very poor wifi speeds!

    My new iPhone 3G works great with 3G. No problems there so far, although I've not traveled around too much with it.

    What seems to be a problem is the iPhone connecting to wifi spots... in that the attained speeds are so arrevatingly slow that I turn it off! This of course is fine since at the momen since I've not exceeded the monthly ball and chain set by the money sucking service provider.

    However, it's supposed to work with Wifi modems. I have a lin

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The iPhone only has a b/g chipset. Performance of a MBP against a 802.11n access point isn't really indicative of how the b/g network would perform. You could be having considerable interference you'd never notice with the laptop.

      Burst mode on the Linksys isn't part of the 802.11n draft but rather a proprietary Linksys extension - so really it's no wonder it isn't working well with non-Linksys clients.

    • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
      I have a linksys n/b/g router and have absolutely no problems whatsoever. So, if there *is* a problem, it doesn't effect every phone OR its only effecting your phone. It may be the router's b/g signal sucks, though the n-signal is fine, therefore you have no issues with the laptop, but would with the phone. I say try finding another wifi hotspot to see if the problem continues. If it does, bring it into an Apple store and see if they'll replace it, because it should be performing pretty well.
  • I'm an idiot, I admit it: I've had BOTH versions of the iPhone. They're the same, folks, no better, no worse. If you're tinfoil hat's a little too snug (or you're holding it with either left or right hand) it tends to drop calls.

    Really: the emperor's latest fashion is made of the same material. The instrument is no better as a phone, no faster as a PDA, no cleaner as a browser. It is still a very poorly designed phone, a not-TOO-bad PDA (esp. for Mac users) and a darned superior portable internet device.

    • Cellphone-to-cellphone reliability and call quality are illusions, get used to it.

      I think you meant to say - cell reliability is an illusion in the United States, on the AT&T network. I've *never* had a dropped call, on any phone (including 3G iPhone).

    • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
      If its so poorly designed... why'd you get the new one after already owning the original one? I can understand someone thinking its poorly designed and not buying one and I can understand someone who likes it AND buying one... or even someone who likes it but still doesn't buy one. But why would someone buy something they don't like AND even buy the next version of said phone?
      • by daveime (1253762)
        Because it's SHINY and NEW !!! Seriously, it used to be the case that cars were considered penile extensions. In this millenia, anything Apple spits out has surely superceded the humble motor vehicle.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by neBelcnU (663059)
          I apologize for my lack of clarity, see Xenocrates. I bought the new one because the mobile internet access tools are worth it. I've decided that having seamless email, some web, and relatively updated maps are indeed worth it. As to the other poster "never" having lost an AT&T call: Bullshit. Unprovable, and clearly this thread's existence posits that the opposite might be true. (It is certainly true, but I'll stick to the more conservative case.)
    • If you're tinfoil hat's a little too snug...

      I'm not a tinfoil hat!

  • I've turned 3G off because Edge gives me better battery life; with 3G I also have coverage problems.

    I wonder how long before there is a class action lawsuit?

    • Re:My experiences (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:18AM (#24634941) Journal

      I wonder how long before there is a class action lawsuit?

      Kind of sad that this is the first thing on peoples' minds. Would you not prefer Apple to recall the phones for a fix, or issue a firmware update that takes care of the problem? No.... you were wronged and therefore must sue.

      • Re:My experiences (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @11:54AM (#24635199) Journal
        Unfortunately, legal action, or threat thereof, is often the only way of inducing a company to recall, update, patch, refund, or otherwise ameliorate one of their fuckups.

        Some lawsuits are about vengeance; but that doesn't mean that lawsuits aren't a legitimate means of obtaining redress.
        • by PJ1216 (1063738) *
          Apple & Infineon are rumored to be working on an update already. Not sure if its been confirmed, but there's definitely strong rumors going around that a fix is being developed. Apple is known to fix issues. Maybe not timely, but they do fix them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by g0at (135364)

          Some lawsuits are about vengeance; but that doesn't mean that lawsuits aren't a legitimate means of obtaining redress.

          True. It just means that you're American.

          (tongue only partly in cheek)

      • I wonder how long before there is a class action lawsuit?

        Kind of sad that this is the first thing on peoples' minds. Would you not prefer Apple to recall the phones for a fix, or issue a firmware update that takes care of the problem? No.... you were wronged and therefore must sue.

        First of all, my opinion on Class Actions is irrelevant to my musing about what may happen. The conditions are ripe for a CA - large class, deep pocket defendant.

        You might consider the question before you make assumptions about a poster's preferences.

      • by p0tat03 (985078)

        Kind of sad that this is the first thing on peoples' minds.

        I find it sad too, but for the opposite reason. How sad it is that corporations never own up to their mistakes and issue recalls/updates. They do it so rarely that the only way the average consumer can get satisfaction is by suing.

    • by jonfr (888673)

      Poor 3G coverage has more to do with the frequency they use. In this case 3G uses 2100Mhz (2,1Ghz). That frequency has few problems, small coverage and poor coverage inside a house. I have seen the same problems with my phone and that isn't iPhone, it is a Sony Ericsson.

      3G coverage would have been less problem if they had choose to use lower frequency spectrum, like 1700Mhz, 1800Mhz, 1000Mhz or even 900Mhz (however, GSM uses 900/1800Mhz in Europe). 3G on 900Mhz is on the way, but not until after 5 years or

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        We actually have 3G on 450MHz [66.102.9.104] (auto-translated) here in Sweden too. This is a really good solution in rural areas due to the excellent coverage. The 450MHz band was earlier used by the old 1G net NMT.

        And having 900/1800 MHz also makes sense compared to the offbeat 850/1900 in USA, since the 900/1800 are pure multiples and allows for better antenna technology.

        The advantage with higher frequencies is that you have better bandwidth which in turn means that you can get a higher data transfer rate. But if the re

        • by jonfr (888673)

          The 3G system used in Sweden is actually a standard called CDMA2000, it is not compatible with 3GSM or 2GSM. 3GSM is hopefully going down to 450Mhz in the end, but it might take few years to do so. If there is a market for it.

          The real shame however is that GSM-450 (sometimes called GSM-400) never got off the ground in Europe, that would have paved the way for 3G on 450Mhz in the future. That also would have make the lives of the user easier. But then the user only would have needed one mobile phone, not two

  • by russotto (537200) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:28PM (#24635423) Journal

    We've got one _securities_ (not engineering) analyst speculating that it's a problem with the chipset, and that it's unfixable. Yeah. Then we've got Businessweek echoing that claim, citing two unnamed sources (one of which is probably the securities analyst, the other of which is likely someone repeating the securities analyst). No technical data whatsoever on those claims.

    Then we've got Ny Teknik, which cites a problem between the antenna and the amplifier (I would speculate they are referring to antenna impedence matching). They again cite unnamed sources, but they at least claim there was actual testing done. If this is the case, it would not be fixable in firmware, but it's at least not a design flaw.

    On top of that, there's the nature of the problems. Poor signal strength and low speeds both could be caused by the problems of the nature Ny Teknik suggests, but dropping calls when switching from 3G to Edge argues for some sort of firmware problem, dropping calls during the handoff. Of course, it's also possible there are multiple problems; low signal strength exposes a problem with the handoff.

    Finally there's the question of how Apple missed it during testing. It seems widespread enough that it would have been noticed, which argues for a manufacturing problem or perhaps a last minute software change.

    • by mako1138 (837520) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @03:29PM (#24637047)

      Then we've got Ny Teknik, which cites a problem between the antenna and the amplifier (I would speculate they are referring to antenna impedence matching). They again cite unnamed sources, but they at least claim there was actual testing done. If this is the case, it would not be fixable in firmware, but it's at least not a design flaw.

      I find it hard to believe that they would screw up the impedance match. Impedance matching is the most basic precept in RF design. And if they did screw it up, wouldn't that be a design flaw?

  • by pdxp (1213906) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:45PM (#24635547)

    I've been using 3G in one of the pilot cities since it rolled out many years ago and the problem has always been limited coverage. Even now that the infrastructure is more mature. Going from 3G to non-3G networks isn't a smooth transition, so you might have a very weak signal where there is potential to have a better one.

    Go buy a European phone that only works on our 1900MHz frequency and you'll see how limited certain types of coverage can be.

  • by sycodon (149926) on Sunday August 17, 2008 @12:48PM (#24635567)

    If AT&T were to make a commercial like Verizon's, the subscribers would be followed around by a bunch of retards (apologies to all the retards that may read Slashdot).

    I have calls that sound crystal clear one second and then get dropped the next...while both parties are stationary.

  • A bit of seriousness here. One bar, four bars, five bars - this is no real info at all. At least in the Amateur Radio world, there is objective testing as to what S-9 on the meter means (50 uV @ 50 ohms).

    There is no such testing done on cellphones. I have never seen it done. If there was objective testing done, I wonder really how bad the results would be.

    I was out on a bike ride and right under a AT&T tower resting and I was getting only two bars. Go figure.

    Personally, signal strength displays are orch

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