More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

Summary: An article by Peter Burrows for BusinessWeek analyzes the recent problems with iPhone 3G reception, stating that "two well-placed sources tell the glitches are related to a chip inside Apple's music-playing cell phone.


More on the iPhone 3G woesAn article by Peter Burrows for BusinessWeek analyzes the recent problems with iPhone 3G reception, stating that "two well-placed sources tell the glitches are related to a chip inside Apple's music-playing cell phone." This corroborates previous reports that the handset's Infineon 3G chip is the culprit. BusinessWeek adds that Apple "plans to remedy the problems through a software upgrade."

One source says the problem lies squarely with Infineon's technology, which is fairly new and untested in high volumes outside a lab setting. Not only is the iPhone shipping in much higher volumes than other handsets, it's also gobbling up far more 3G minutes as owners use it to surf the Web, watch YouTube (GOOG) videos, and utilize other bandwidth-hogging services.

To date I've had no problems with 3G coverage on my iPhone but I haven't used it extensively due to lack of coverage in my area. I am, however, happy to report that a brand-spankin-new AT&T 3G cell site just went live about two miles from my house and it's helped greatly with coverage in and around my house.

Update: In related news Wired wants you to test your iPhone data speed at then register your findings on their global ZeeMap. (Tip: TUAW)

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, iPhone, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • So iPhones can sense each other now?

    [i]Not only is the iPhone shipping in much higher volumes than other handsets, it?s also gobbling up far more 3G minutes[/i]

    So 3G is failing [b]just[/b] with iPhones because there are too many of them? Uh huh. How does the 3G in an iPhone know to fail at high volumes when the 3G in all other cell phones keep right on going? Unless you want to convince us that iPhones use a separate 3G network?

    We won't even get into the [b]fact[/b] that the iPhone is [b]not[/b] [url=] shipping in much higher numbers than other 3G handsets [/url] but hey, dishonesty from the Apple camp is always to be expected.

    [i]The figures also revealed that 14.7% of all mobile phones sold over the course of last year were 3G devices ? [b]equating to 167 million units[/b][/i]

    It is laughable to think that the iPhone 3G, with only 1 million sold, is anything more than a drop in the 3G bucket.
    • It's not the # of phones sold... It's a fubar chip with ganked SW


      Next time ya wanna read it slower, much slower, so your brain can keep up with the movement of the lips.

    • The article needs clarification

      Our dear paid-per-click journalist obviously missed out
      some qualifying words to help people read the article one
      sentence at a time.

      Not only is the iPhone shipping in higher volumes than
      other handsets using the dodgy chipset, but iPhone users
      are also using more 3G time than users of other handsets
      (this part of the statement, in my opinion, holds true
      regardless of 3G chipset - just ask Google about
      percentage of handheld clients using their service). Thus it
      appears that iPhone failure rates are very high, when in
      fact the failure per unit time for handsets using that
      chipset is about the same.

      More iPhones, more time in use, more opportunities for
      the dodgey chip to display its broken behaviour.

      And yes, iPhones can "sense" each other as an emergent
      property of the network and the chipset problem - more
      iPhones in a particular cell = less 3G bandwidth available
      per handset, which means data rates will fall or even drop
      out all together as the exchange struggles to cope with
      abnormal usage patterns.

      So stick more iPhones in a particular geographic area,
      you'll get worse performance across all 3G applications.
      Since iPhone users are more likely to be using 3G in the
      first place, you're more likely to notice iPhones failing than
      any other handset - the other smartphones are only being
      used as PDAs that can make phone calls.
  • RE: More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

    the issue isn't 3G failing with the iphone, it's with a chipset inside the phone itself failing. other phones don't have the issue because the <i>don't have that chipset.</i>

    and what in tarnation does your subject line mean anyway?

    methinks you should take a breath, go to a happy place, and let go of your apple anger :)
    • re: fail

      [i]the issue isn't 3G failing with the iphone, it's with a chipset inside the phone itself failing. other phones don't have the issue because the don't have that chipset.[/i]

      Since Apple chose that chipset to use in [/i]their[/i] product... I'm of the opinion that the issue [b]is[/b] with 3G failing in the iPhone.

      You are right though, other companies did not chose that chipset to use. Makes ya wonder, what did they know that Apple doesn't?
    • My subject line was in response to the article

      [i]the issue isn't 3G failing with the iphone, it's with a chipset inside the phone itself failing[/i]

      I agree with you. My post (and subject line) was making fun of the following quote from the article:
      [i]Not only is the iPhone shipping in much higher volumes than other handsets[/i]

      If the chipset was failing inside the phone (and like I said, I agree that this is the case), what on earth does the number of iPhones sold have to do with it? It would be like saying: [i]Ford transmissions fail because they are selling so well.[/i] Hence my question: can iPhones sense each other and when there are too many of them detected, they fail?

      [i]let go of your apple anger[/i]

      Actually, I have Apple relief: relief that I didn't buy an iPhone considering how low the build quality is on them! :)
      • volume of iPhones does make a difference, according to O2

        O2 (iPhone UK network provider) told me today that the availability of 3G is affected by number of concurrent users. i.e. the more iPhones in a geographic area the less 3G to go round. At least that's their excuse for me consistently only getting 1 bar (or worse, just Edge) in Central London.
        • Wouldn't ALL 3G phones affect availability?

          Or are you saying iPhones use their own special 3G?

          If anything, the presence of more iPhones makes it statistically more probable for an iPhone to be seen failing in this manner. Other than that, the number of iPhones should be irrelevant.
        • Still missing the point

          [i]the more iPhones in a geographic area the less 3G to go round.[/i]

          Why does this problem [b]only[/b] affect iPhones? I could buy that argument if [b]all[/b] 3G cell phones were affected but [b]only[/b] the iPhone is getting horrible, unacceptable, unusable reception. With 170 million 3G phones sold so far, are you telling me that adding 1 million iPhones was just too much for the system to handle although other phones are just too incompetent to notice that the network is down?

          This reminds me a bit of the Mac Fan argument that the wireless cards in MacBooks were so superior that they were more sensitive to changes in the wireless signal and therefore would lose their connection more often (this was used as an apology for why MacBooks would lose wireless connectivity while the Dell right next to it would continue working just fine). I think we need a dictionary check on the meaning of the word "superior". :)
    • The issue

      [i]the issue isn't 3G failing with the iphone, it's with a chipset inside the phone itself failing[/i]

      Hmm, I wonder who's responsible for choosing that chip? Are you going to blame Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, LG, et al for Apple's choice of suppliers?

  • B.Week quotes Nomura which has been very wrong on iPhone tech

    I've written before that Nomura has been terribly wrong
    about iPhone tech in the past and here is a B.Week article
    mentioned which quotes Nomura again.

    In Aug 2007, Nomura claimed that the iPhone used 'Heat
    Sensitivity technology' and the screens would fail in 3 to
    six months.

    Tech Trader Aug 10 2007 :
    "research report from Nomura International analyst Richard
    Windsor that raised questions about the durability of the
    screens on the iPhone. He noted that there are reports that
    some screens have developed ?dead spots".

    "According to Marketwatch, Windsor wrote in a note today
    that the iPhone screen uses a chemical deposition process
    to provide touch sensitivity based on heat. The
    international property rights for this technology, he said,
    were purchased from a bankrupt Finnish company that was
    trying to make a similar device. But according to
    Marketwatch, ?that company encountered the
    problem that with extensive use, the film would begin to
    degrade and the screen would lose its sensitivity. Windsor
    said the problem typically manifested itself within three to
    six months."

    But of Course the iPhone does NOT use Heat Sensitivity.
    There is NO film. And of the millions of iPhones in use they
    hasn't been one "heat sensitivity" failure. Iphones use
    pressure capacitance technology.

    For a 'research' firm like Nomura to make an error like
    this before when the information (diagrams and specs) of
    the iphone is easily available on the web shows the sloppy
    'research' Nomura does and yet writers still quote them
    without mentioning their past epic errors which is very

    MANIPULATION by the Japanese Government.

    New York Times:
    "In the most serious accusations leveled in Japan's financial
    scandals, the Nomura Securities Company, the world's
    largest brokerage house, was charged today with violating
    Japanese law by manipulating customers into a flurry of
    buying that sent the price of a major stock soaring briefly
    two years ago.

    The charges were made in Parliament today by the Finance
    Minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto. He effectively accused the
    firm of running a scheme that left scores of customers with
    heavy losses but benefited a select few -- including one of
    Japan's top organized-crime bosses -- after the stock
    collapsed. It was the first time in this country's recent
    financial scandals that a brokerage house has been
    charged formally with breaking the law."

    • Wow, talk about a personal attack ad!

      What does stock manipulation charges have to do with the accuracy of what they are reporting? It is like me saying that the iPhone is cr@p because Apple participated Stock option pre-dating.
      • Help for shadetree

        The reason the stock manipulation scandal was mentioned along with Nomura's mistaken iPhone information was to suggest the possibility that Nomura's "mistakes" may not be honest ones.
  • RE: More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

    I am sure that Microsoft has something to do with this. They probably hacked into Infineon and screwed up the chips. :-)

    My iPhone works just fine. If only AT&T had 3G service that penetrated buildings it would be great.

    Of course once the FEMTOCELLs are deployed all these problems should be gone.
  • RE: More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

    It is a very big problem and so far Apple has not
    acknowledged it. There are numerous other bugs
    in the phone software but these one can live with
    knowing that they will be fixed within a reasonable
    time; however, the lack of 3G when we are paying
    an extra $10 per month and many of us waited for
    a 3G phone to jump in is not acceptable. It just
    does not work as advertised. My gripe lies with
    specific phone related problems. Frequent
    dropped calls (most with 3G but quite a few on
    EDGE too, Calls not going through on 3G,
    incoming calls that go to voice mail even though
    you are showing a strong signal, and a new one
    for me is call fading where the other party says my
    volume is dropping and they can barely hear me
    or not at all and I experience the same thing on
    my end (both on 3G and EDGE). It reminds me of
    the old days of radio (I am an engineer) when due
    to the changing level of the Ionosphere the signal
    would bounce in an out. I haven't experienced this
    last issue with my other AT&T phones.

    I also went into the AT&T store and found they
    had set the phones to wifi and EDGE to make them
    look like they performed better than they actually
    do. As soon as I switched from EDGE to 3G and
    turned off wifi the signal dropped to almost
    nothing (-19dbm to -103dbm). The other 3G
    phones in the store were showing a full 5 bars.
    Despite this obvious subtrefuge the AT&T sales
    people had the nerve to say they were not aware
    of any reception problems with the iPhone!

      Whenever you experience any of these numerous problems, just remember that the iPhone offers a better [b]USER EXPERIENCE[/b] than any other phone. Those other people who are talking normally into their cell phones aren't enjoying them as much as you are enjoying yelling into your iPhone because the other person can't hear you! 5 bars on another cell phone is grossly overrated when you could have 0 bars on an iPhone!

      Please stop with the Apple bashing. The iPhone has the best user experience and you shouldn't let minor inconveniences like not being able to make or receive phone calls get in the way of that!

      Also, there have only been 204 complaints of poor iPhone reception on Apple's support forum. 204 complaints out of 1,000,000 iPhones means that you are practically the only one with poor reception. That should make you feel better!


        I hate to rain on your parade, but there are plenty of phones that offer as good if not better user experiences than the iPhone. Maybe you enjoy charging your phone every day. Or like that it crashes for no reason. Or that typing on the phone is anything but fun. The iPhone is a toy. Period. If you like it, great. But not everyone does. Apple deserves all the bashing it gets.

        And 204 complaint on a single user forum is A LOT! Probably 1% of all iPhone owners or less use any forum at all. So to see this high of a number is not good. Reality check, OK?
        • You just have to redefine what the term USER EXPERIENCE means

          I know that we traditionally think of the term "USER EXPERIENCE" to mean stability, quality, and being able to accomplish tasks easily but the iPhone totally redefines what USER EXPERIENCE means.

          The iPhone USER EXPERIENCE means that when your iPhone crashes, you don't get a blue screen of death with scary white lettering and confusing hex numbers that can be used to troubleshoot the problem, you get a barber pole that spins. Ahhh, it is so relaxing to look at a barber pole!

          The iPhone USER EXPERIENCE means that every iPhone is unique. You can be sure that [b]no[/b] other iPhone has exactly the same cracks in the case as yours does. It makes the iPhone feel like it was handcrafted by Jobs himself.

          The iPhone USER EXPERIENCE means that typing is so much fun that you wouldn't use copy and paste even if you had it!

          Don't say the iPhone doesn't have the best USER EXPERIENCE until you consider that maybe your understanding of the term USER EXPERIENCE is flawed. Once you consider Apple's new definition, you must admit that no other phone offers as good a USER EXPERIENCE as the iPhone.

          • ANd that USER EXPERIENCE just works right out of the box! (nt)

  • RE: More on the iPhone 3G woes (updated)

    "To date I???ve had no problems with 3G coverage on my iPhone but I haven???t used it extensively due to lack of coverage in my area."

    Say what? I read this to mean that you can't use your phone for lack of coverage.