back to article iPhone 3G isn't necessarily

Eager punters cooing over their 3G iPhones are finding the third generation connectivity not quite what they had hoped, and according to some reports Apple's super-phone is failing to meet the requirements of the 3G standard. Apple took a lot of stick when the original iPhone lacked 3G, a decision that forced UK operator O2 to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the iPhone really was...

    ... a state of the art next-gen phone then surely it would support HSDPA at high speeds as most other high end smart phones have done for a while... my Nokia N78 is also new, and apart from the touch screen pretty much has the iPhone beat on features, and I got it free from O2 on a much better contract...

    Apple are at least a year if not more behind the curve when it comes to mobile data speeds...

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Brave of the Dutch

    Impressed that T-Mobile Netherlands have pointed a finger at Apple. Risk upsetting Jobs et al and losing the ol' contract! Anyone handy at Dutch and able to translate though?...

    I've noticed that when switching from 3G to 2G (when network dictates) that it can take some time for the iPhone to pick up on this, leaving it with no signal for a while. I was also disappointed to find that it isn't proper GPS - more assisted GPS through triangulating mobile masts?

    Glad I haven't jumped on the bandwagon!... yet...

  3. Alex

    Power Saving??

    With the battery of the new iPhone reportedly being smaller than the old one then maybe it is one way they are trying to save power.

    Surely they have more than one fab producing components/completed devices? Which would seem to make a production based flaw less likely wouldn't it?

  4. Martin Marv

    "iPhone 3G isn't neccesarily"

    iPhone 3G isn't *necessarily* equipped with a spell-checker?

  5. randomtask
    Paris Hilton

    iPhone 3G isn't neccesarily

    ...isn't neccesarily what???

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not fit for purpose

    "T-Mobile NL is recommending that punters hope for a software update from Apple"

    I'm sure the likes of T-Mobile are also hoping Apple can fix this too because otherwise they will have a lot of customers well within their rights to return the handset to the company that sold it to them (ie - T-Mobile, O2, etc). That will leave the operators with a product recall / refund problem that they didn't really buy into when they decided to sell the iPhone for use on their networks.

    If the phone doesn't meet the required spec. then by definition, it is not fit for purpose, regardless of what Apple says.

    Oh dear / Ha ha ha / Must try harder, Apple (delete as you see fit)

  7. pctechxp
    Jobs Horns

    Evil Jobs says....

    bah ha ha ha

    My money making plan is working, now to release a new version slightly better but not quite what people think they are paying for.

  8. Edwin
    Jobs Horns

    TMONL backpedals

    *giggle* - a translation from TMO's blog page:

    Update (13 August):

    Following news reports citing this post, we would like to clarify <add nuance to> our statement. Some sites quote T-Mobile as blaming the handset for problems related to 3G reception. This is not the message we wish to convey

    <Further down on the original post, after a bit where customers report crap 3G reception in certain areas, also when comparing the iPhone to a different 3G handset>:

    We suspect this is a hardware/software issue specific to the iPhone itself.

    I fail to see what's to be clarified: they're blaming Steve

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Early Batch Different Antenna Design ?

    I think it could be due to the ambitious antenna design.

    There are rumours that week 31 and later have a modified antenna design.

  10. Sampler

    Don't O2 kneew-cap their 3G network anyway?

    I'm sure I read about them artificially slowing down their 3G network, shortluy after I picked up a HTC TyTn II on it :(

  11. James O'Brien
    Jobs Horns


    Can this really be true? Will the Jesus phone now be stoned for failing to meet the demands of the public? Nah Apple will call it a feature and say that they have tested the spit out of the phone and that it actually wrote the 3G standard so why worry.

  12. OrsonX
    IT Angle

    3G troubles

    Unclear in the article - what exactly doesn't it do 3G wise?

    -download fast enough

    -upload fast enough

    -pick up the 3G network properly

    And if so, by how far does it fall short of the mark?

    I remember SJ boasting how fast it was in the launch...?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the iPhone really was...

    ... a state of the art next-gen phone then surely it would support HSDPA as most other high end smart phones have done for a while... my Nokia N78 is also new, and apart from the touch screen pretty much has the iPhone beat on features, and I got it free from O2 on a much better contract...

    Apple are at least a year if not more behind the curve when it comes to mobile data speeds...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    You wait ages for an article about the Jesus phone, and then two come along all at once!

  15. Zmodem

    Happens to all phones

    if you dont select the 3g network manually youll probally be pushed off 90% of the time your phones on, then 3g signal is pants at passing through walls

  16. aL
    Thumb Down

    re orsonX

    to awnser your question,

    it has sub par 3g reception.

    that doesnt mean that it doesnt work with 3g, just that it needs to be closer to an antenna to use it. it also means more packets are lost and general slower speeds

    this is pretty serious.. it could mean mass recalls or even some legal action if it turns out that apple cut costs on purpose (regulators doesnt like it when you cheat on their tests)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ If the iPhone really was...

    Double post with subtle difference and I still manage to garble it...

    What I mean to say is that altho the iPhone has paper support for HSDPA, it's a year or two late to the party and speeds still suck with apparently patchy quality... whereas in my experience Nokia (with an N78) seem to be getting about the best possible out of the network (although that is still way less than the network is allegedly capable of).

    Not very good Apple, state of the art phone...? Errr well close but no cigar, still playing catch up IMHO.

  18. Alexis Vallance


    The adverts in the US are based around it being 'twice as fast'.

    Some different laws in the UK mean the line is replaced with 'really fast'.

    I'm not sure how you define 'really fast', but I've yet to hear anyone complain over here.

  19. Timo

    won't be able to fix this with software

    Receiver sensitivity is not going to be something they can straighten out with software. This is a hardware problem due to the way the receiver section has been designed and the enclosure (case) materials that are used. If they use too much metal in the casing the wrong places it shields the antenna and RX sections. A couple of dB of loss here can make the difference between a good call and a bad one (and also with the data throughput.)

  20. Will

    @ Anonymous Coward

    How exactly is AGPS not proper GPS? GPS has trouble locating you under certain circumstances such as when surrounded by tall buildings. Assisted GPS is exactly that, it uses various methods to quickly approximate your position and then narrow that down using GPS.

    No problems here with the Jesus phone and 3G.

    With regards to the N78 having the iPhone beat on features, how good a product is, is not always about how many features it has, but how well it performs the tasks it is set to do. I've been using "smartphones" for years, and they are all crap in everyday use compared to the iPhone. Is it perfect? No, but it's a damn site better than the competition. I don't respect anyone's argument on this unless they've actually used the thing in a real world situation for a decent length of time.

    Oh and the Jesus phone is HSDPA.

  21. Dave Morfee

    the plastic back

    Perhaps this was one of the reasons for swapping to a plastic backing?

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. WTF
    Black Helicopters


    What's with all the conspiracy theorists? Is there a full moon out tonight?

    A few things to consider while trying to decide if Apple et. al. conspired to do this deliberately, you know, cause Steve is actually Dr. Evil and wants billions and billions:

    1. The phone uses Infineon's HSDPA chip set for cellular radio access.

    2. Due to a variety of design trade-offs and specifically the WCDMA standard itself, the radio signals the phone receives are very weak, under the thermal noise floor---in fact.

    3. A few decibels lower than standard, at this scale, could be something as simple as one of the assembly houses mounting the antenna improperly, micro-faults in the RF signal path, or loose quality control at the antenna vendor, or literally a thousand other minor issues in the manufacturing and assembly process.

    4. The fact that this does not affect all phones is indicative that the problem is not software or OS related, but hardware. The wide variety of phones currently using the Infineon chip set makes it highly unlikely that there is a fundamental flaw with the chip set.

    5. The WCDMA standard was designed to deal much more serious signal path problems and impairments than this. That's why the phones still work, but just don't have the highest possible connection speeds for a given signal path environment.

    Finally, shit happens. This is, as all 3-G phones are, an incredibly complex device, sold at a ridiculously low price. Products launches are rarely perfect. That's why, if you get seriously bent about this sort of thing, you never buy v1.0. Rest assured, the component and QC engineers are on the case, it will be fixed, quietly, just as it has happened when ironing out the wrinkles in every other product launch in the history of technology.

    p.s. In case you're wondering, I do not work for Apple, Infineon, or any other company involved with the iPhone.

  24. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    Not only that, but...

    The way 3G / CDMA works means when you need a channel you start quiet and then turn up the volume until the network says "I hear you", to avoid raising the noise floor in the cell too high (and consequently potentially kicking everybody off the cell). If the iPhone's casing was getting in the way, and it's still too quiet, then god help the battery life as the internals struggle to make up to volumes the network can hear.

    Look, 3G is pants unless you're a) stood still and b) somewhere near a mast (i.e. not indoors) or a picocell. That's why 3G picocell companies are going ballistic right now - they're going to fill the gaps indoors (shopping centres, etc). I've had loads of headhunters for 3G picocell companies lately.

    I've got a 3G SE but I keep it on 2G all the time, simply because battery life and reliability are far far better. When you had over from a 3G to 2G cell you're effectively swapping out the whole backhaul network down to base station controllers - I much prefer 2G handovers, tried and tested for the last god knows how long. I only turn on 3G when I'm stationary, have a good signal and would like a little throughput (like I do WiFi). I turn it off again once I'm done.

    With all this in mind, if the iPhone's 3G implementation is non-compliant then it really is stuffed unless you leave it on 2G (I hear EDGE is still there, so you'll be OK).

    Feels like a bit of a rush job from Apple to catch up with 3G. Maybe they should have left it a little longer...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No such problems in GSM-less Japan

    Well, I have had a Nokia 3G phone on Softbank for over 2 years and 3 weeks ago I got an iPhone 3G on Softbank. Also, my wife had the same Nokia and it took 3 weeks until we were able to get another iPhone for her. During that time we have been doing some testing around Tokyo, especially the places I have come to know for bad or no reception (with the Nokia). With the exception of a pub which is located in the basement, all the places I know where the Nokia didn't get a signal, the iPhone does get a signal, and I double checked this again with my wife's Nokia during the last three weeks.

    In other words, the iPhone works better on the 3G Softbank network than the Nokia. I think its a 6680 but I am not entirely sure because the Japanese operators always change the model numbers, they call this a 702MkII here.

    Anyway, I have asked 8 other people I know who also recently got an iPhone 3G if they had experienced any bad signal situations and nobody had any issues. I also asked a dozen+ folks I saw using an iPhone on the street, again nobody had any issues with reception. Further we have looked at some Japanese bulletin boards where Japanese folks exchange experiences with the iPhone 3G. There are plenty of discussions about the tariff plans, about applications and how this or that app doesn't make sense in Japan, how to use this or that feature, but we could not find anything relating to bad reception.

    So, why are there so many folks (it seems) in Europe and the US with reception issues while it seems impossible to find anyone who has such issues here in Japan? Maybe the answer can be found by looking at what makes the Japanese cell phone landscape different from the rest of the world: No GSM whatsover, therefore no EDGE whatsoever, therefore no switching between different air interfaces. It may well be that this whole thing is related to handoff between 2G/2.5G and 3G. I remember that there have been issues with that in the early days of 3G deployment in Europe. Maybe the iPhone 3G hasn't learned how to deal with such a mixed cell environment just yet.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How can you call this a true 3G device when....

    ....said device doesn't support tethering data (for your notebook, pda, tomtom, etc)?

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Ok, I'm going to bite on your comment, "I don't respect anyone's argument on this unless they've actually used the thing in a real world situation for a decent length of time." Firstly, you in turn don't identify which smartphones you are comparing against, I've had mixed experiences with many phones - some are downright awful, some very very good. By not identifying which smartphones you are directly comparing to the iPhone your own analysis fails your own test.

    Now, onto the subject matter at hand. Personally, I've never liked any of the Apple products, I find them all just a little too like something you would buy from Toys'r'us. Nice as a toy, but pointless in the real world. Having said that, I can understand why so many people like the iPod. Incidentally, I don't like the iPod for 3 reasons, firstly, I can't fit all my music collection on any available iPod; secondly, I don't really listen to music on the move due to sound quality issues; and thirdly, I don't like buying a product where the battery is going to die after a year and render the product useless. However, I can fully understand why these are specific issues for me, and therefore accept that the iPod probably is a best of breed product in it's class.

    Now, in keeping with how good the iPod is, I decided to eat my own words and try an iPhone for a period. Fortunately, a friend had a 3G iPhone and was willing to lend it to me for an extended trial. What I discovered was, I believe, pretty interesting.

    The plus side:

    1) The basic iPhone interface does look pretty slick, and is generally pretty simple to use.

    2) The UI metaphors for the web interface are actually top draw, once a page was loaded, you could move around it and read sections pretty easily. It was also clear that you would, over time, become even more efficient at it.

    3) The screen looks fantastic, vibrant colours and very readable.

    The minus side:

    1) The whole things feels like a beta product. So many things just haven't been finished properly. Take the ability to rotate apps, the fact that it's only built into some apps is ridiculous - it should be a standard feature of everything. Also things like the lack of copy and paste - clearly QA should never have let the product out with such basic functionality.

    2) Let's be fair, the keyboard is unusable for a large section of the population. I have pretty big fingers, and no matter how hard I tried to get it working it just didn't work ever. Now, I'm someone who learnt the old pen strokes for palm pilots, is happy with both old and new style texting, and has successfully used Blackberry and Nokia smartphone keyboards. I just couldn't get the iPhone keyboard to work. I'm not the only person to note this - a friend of mine has a 3G iPhone and still carries around a sidekick for texting/e-mail (after having a few weeks trying to use the iPhone for those features). Passwords are of course the worst since the auto-correction doesn't work on those, but my experience with the auto-correction was also pretty terrible.

    3) The sound quality is as dreadful as the iPods (if not worse). For mobile sound not as good as the Sony products. But here I am a bit of an audiophile, and Apple have always been sub-par on sound quality.

    4) The speed of the network (either Edge or 3G) makes the web totally unusable. Yes, it's a really sweet interface, but by the time your web-page has loaded, you could have found a wired computer and done everything you need to do. Ok, it's a lot better if you have a profusion of Wi-Fi hotspots to go to, although the Wi-Fi can be a beast to set up at times (especially trying to use that damned keyboard for settings) - see point 1 above. Basically the web interface feels like someone is trying to put a pretty dress on a pile of shit. It just sucks.

    Now, what this means is that, for some people the negatives on the iPhone aren't that important. If you are happy with beta products, don't mind the sound quality of an iPod, have the right size fingers to use the keyboard, and either connect through Wi-Fi, or only load low-graphic websites and can put up with the speed, then the iPhone could be ok for you. But don't, under any circumstances, lay claim to it being the "best" phone on the market. There are far better phones than the iPhone around, it just depends what you want to do. For me, the iPhone just wouldn't work, for others it will be the best thing for what they want to do. Having said all this, I can't see it penetrating business at all, despite where Jobs is trying to pitch the 3G version.

  28. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: One more thing...

    Every handset should indeed be scrupulously tested by every operator, but in my experience working at an operator that isn't always the case, especially when there are not enough prototypes to go round (or "always" as it's known).

    I'm glad to hear your experience is different though, nice to know the problem isn't endemic.


  29. Andy Worth


    "That's why, if you get seriously bent about this sort of thing, you never buy v1.0"

    Which is exactly why I NEVER buy first-gen hardware until it has been well tested :)

  30. evilbobthebob


    'sold at a ridiculously low price'

    Well, if the iPhone is low priced to you, I want your salary...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One more thing...

    "Every mobile operator selling the iPhone will claim to have tested the sensitivity, but the reality is that once one European operator has passed a device the rest will accept the result on the nod - this leaves more prototypes for senior management to tout at meetings."

    That's not the reality at all. Every handset, iPhone included, is tested scrupulously because if you don't then you risk fucking up your whole network. I know of a case where a 3 staffer was lent a Samsung, and spent a week travelling around the country shutting down cell sites as he went due to handset/infrastructure issues.

    The iPhone does support HSDPA "at high speeds" (why do all iPhone threads bring out the "MY N78/N95/N-whatever IS SUPERIOR TO YOUR PUNY JOBS DEVICE!!!1"?)

    O2 wrongly provisioned a load of 3G SIMs in line with 2G SIMs, temporarily throttling a lot of new customers to 128Kbps - for about 3 weeks, 6 months ago.

  32. Daniel Bennett

    Shouldn't the title be

    "iPhone 3G Isn't Necessary" ... "Nokia N95 is better, honest and less of a rip off"

  33. Dwayne
    Jobs Horns

    Aussie Newspapers are saying the same thing

    Really is a global problem.

  34. Richard

    Does it matter in Europe?

    I note that this maybe an intermittent problem with WCDMA. Now, correct me if I am wrong (and I'm sure someone will) isn't it a super version of GSM and only mainly available in the US. My understanding is that it is an inferior form of 3G which doesn't even allow simultaneous speech and browsing. In Europe do we not use the superior, and built from the ground up, UMTS which uses different technology and frequencies? If this is the case (and I realise I may be quite wrong here) then in Europe (at least in the UK) where UMTS proliferates should we not be unaffected by this issue?

    What say you WTF? - you seem to know your stuff.

  35. Mark Broadhurst

    @ WTF

    Fanboi a little ?

    I think its another good example of it works fine in america the rest of the world can sort it out.

  36. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Bwah ha ha ha ha .... You EXPECT a Bug Free Apple Product??

    Oh the AppleTards are in a tizzy, ANOTHER well recognized POS Buggy product, again the iPhony, emanating from the ass of Stevie Gods to the wait throngs of Apple buying morons with money to toss down the ol rat hole. You'd THINK that these in denial Dopes would get a clue after YEARS of this same ol shit, but life in Apple Fantasy Land is just too Apple colored lens glasses.

    You morons get what you deserve ... but don't fret, Stevie will soon enough issue iPhony 3G v1.1.1 so you can add more cash to the budging coffers of Stevie's bank account.

    Me .... I'm enjoying this more and more and more every day laugh my ass off at you AppleTards ... and as you can see from this comments board, more are laughing at you dopes too.

  37. A J Stiles

    Two words

    Two words for any 3G phone:

    Front Camera.

    Kind of essential for video conferencing.

  38. Tim Spence

    RE: Seriously?!?!

    Good points, except for number 4. I'm not sure if you are suggesting the issue only affects some iPhones, or some phones in general that use the Infineon chip, but either way, I'm led to believe that it could well affect all iPhones, it's just that most/some people don't notice/don't care, either due to their location or usage or expectations.

    I've noticed some wacky going ons with my iPhone's indicated signal strengths - from one bar straight to a full 5, and back to a single bar, when it's sat still on a desk - but then don't most phones do this?

    Anyway, as said, I think there's a chance it could affect all iPhones, it's just that x% of the people aren't saying so for the above reasons, so it could still be software.

  39. Duncan
    Jobs Halo

    whats the problem

    Come on people remember this is an 'I'-Phone? 'I'Phone! it doens't even need to work to be cool, i'll take three please

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ A J Stiles

    "Front Camera.

    Kind of essential for video conferencing."

    I personally give a rat's a$$ about cameras on phones in general and video telephony in particular.

    If there was an iPhone without a camera, even if it was twice the price, I would go for that in a heartbeat, simply because I could then be confident that it won't be confiscated at the airport when I am sent on business to the various middle eastern countries which have outlawed camera phones. Yes, it happened to me before with a Nokia camera phone and I was stuck without any phone cause I couldn't rent nor even buy a prepaid phone there. I can't tell you how ridiculous you feel when you get a device confiscated for a feature that you never wanted in the first place, a feature that was shoved down your throat only because all the kids want it.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    HA HA


  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. WTF

    @ Richard (and Mark)

    No. Just someone who has spent a great deal of time developing wireless products (not cellular), and therefore knows first hand how 'incredibly expensive, ridiculously complex, and difficult they are to develop'. Simply put, 3G phones push the limits of current wireless and networking technology, or at least they did a few years ago. LTE is the R&D focus now, and when that technology finally deploys, after literally tens of millions of man hours and tens, if not hundreds, of billions dollars invested in making it comercial, I imagine it still 'won't be good enough' for the likes of Phreaky.

    @Mark: America just does everything infrastructure different than the rest of the world (communications, power, weights and measures, etc.). Don't ask me why, personally I think it's retarded, and a bit narcissistic. As far as what's superior, WCDMA, UMTS, and basically all advanced cellular technology going forward are essentially the same at the air interface (i.e. some form of multi-carrier OFDMA). The main differences are at the network and higher protocol layers. Good news going forward (for us Yanks that travel internationally, anyway) is that LTE (4G) will be adopted by the U.S. (thank Vodafone) and, even if it wasn't, is the defacto international standard for 4G. LTE is a UMTS derrivative, enough said.

    Finally, on the comment of signal bars that vary while the phone is sitting still. Sounds like signal fading to me. That could be a simple as big metal truck passing by on the street, or even a plane flying overhead. Yeah, we're pushing the limits that hard.

  44. stim

    i like it...

    i've been on vodafone for years and thought i'd never moved, i've had N95's, Sony Ericsson W910i's, 8800's (Scirocco & Arte) and a whole bunch of other devices, which depending on where you are, performed adequately well for a mobile device. Didnt think much of the original iphone for not having any 3G capabilities so didnt really explore it, but have jumped on the bandwagon with the 3G and left my almost 10 year contract with Vodafone.

    So far, i don't regret it, i think i would have rather stayed on vodafone, purely for historic reasons, but the 3G iphone on O2 i'm using is pretty speedy and certainly destroys the competition in terms of being able to display what i need. So, it may take a couple of seconds to load the bbc front page, but then it is downloading the full desktop experience and then crunching it to fit into safari for iphone, but the postives of having the full desktop experience far out way the speed, size, or anything else that all of the other devices could offer. The real gem with the iphone is the screen size and the device size, i.e. slim so fits in pocket. This far-outways the micro-seconds savings i might make on different 3G areas. (And to be honest we don't get 3G everywhere anyway, so until that happens, there isnt much point in worrying about it).

    I'm definitely not a mac fanboy, nor an iphone fanboy (i lean way towards the windows environment) but i must say, i do like this 3G iphone a lot and it's gonna take something really special to tear me away from it... (nokia 5800 tube maybe - although looks pretty thick/deep)....

  45. WTF

    @ Tim

    Almost forgot you there Mate. Dunno really. This is the first I've read or heard of this problem. Just going by what the article says, and my own experience with these kinds of transition issues. Could actually be a problem across the entire product line. If that is the case, it's a design problem, and possibly a recall. Hard to believe though, as Apple uses an Infineon reference design for the cellular radio, including (iPhone) processor interface software (SDK, hardware and software integration engineering support, etc.). Then there are the various government and carrier certification processes (certainly not bullet-proof). If there was a problem with the reference design, it's hard to believe that it has not been noticed before, and it would be seen across a large percentage, though maybe not all, of the phones using it. Infineon has a large customer base for this product line, and this platform has been stable for a relatively long time. Granted, you are right. It is certainly possible.

    Here's to hoping I don't have to eat these words.

  46. Anonymous Coward


    ...another mindless rant from the biggest "Denial" case since South Park's Mr Garrison.

    You're so deep in the (apple) closet, you're finding christmas presents.

    (Thanks Family guy; knew that would come in handy one day).

    This is my 9th mobile phone, and 3th "PDA". My 3G iphone is reliable, easy to use, bug and problem free in normal use, fast (enough) on 3G and frankly the most useful bit of hardware I've bought this year, pipping even my eee 901. Better than any PDA or phone I've ever had. I now have one device in the bag instead of 3 (phone/PDA/MP3). On business trips it has proved indispensable - I can even get rid the bag entirely now on some trips.

    I, like most iphone/apple users I imagine, are quite contented with their buying decision, we went in "eyes open", knowing the technical pro's/con's thanks very much, and don't worship at the church of Jobs.

    And I bet you just f*ing hate hearing that don't you...wouldn't surprise me one bit to find your bitterness comes from being the only senior cleric evicted from the church of Jobs (probably for claiming Intel was heresy and the work of Satan) if we raided your abode we'd find a IIfx in a shrine, surrounded by scented flowers and candles...

    AC 'cos some of us have more serious monitoring concerns to worry about than an iphone phoning home.

  47. Jodo Kast

    Tizzy confirmed

    Apple fans are rolling out the QQ cannons!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    O2's EDGE decision had nothing to do with Apple

    "Apple took a lot of stick when the original iPhone lacked 3G, a decision that forced UK operator O2 to deploy an EDGE network just to support the 2.5G technology the iPhone did have."

    What absolute crap. O2 were commited to EDGE rather than 3G *years* before Apple entered the scene.

  49. WTF

    @ Richard - Sorry mate, late for lunch...

    As far as what's superior, WCDMA [is] UMTS. [A]nd basically all advanced cellular technology going forward [will be] essentially the same at the air interface (i.e. some form of multi-carrier OFDMA). The main differences [will be] at the network and higher protocol layers. Good news going forward (for us Yanks that travel internationally, anyway) is that LTE (4G) will be adopted by the U.S. (thank Vodafone) and, even if it wasn't, [it] is the defacto international standard for 4G. LTE is a UMTS derrivative [but will use OFDMA, not CDMA], enough said.

  50. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    Now why are the pearls of wisdom from the great P T Barnum ringing in my ear ?

  51. RichyS
    Paris Hilton

    @Tim Spence

    Tim, the reason you probably see you phone signal bars move up and down -- even when sat on your desk -- is because 3G cell sites can 'breathe'.

    This is one of those 'good idea in principle, bad idea in practise' sort of things. When several people are trying to connect to a 3G site, the cell will 'breathe in' in order to give those people closest to the site a consistent quality of service. This tends to bugger people at the edge of the cell's range however. This single feature makes cell site planning an absolute nightmare.

    Anyway, the breathing in and out tends to mean that those sitting at the extremities of cell sites have a fluctuating signal level.

    Paris, 'cos she can breathe in and out, when she remembers.

  52. Mike

    None of you guys get it - it's the technology!

    3G uses CDMA, which means everyone is sharing the same spectrum. If there are 300 people using the same cell, then that's 1/300th of the available brute speed (currently 7.2Mbps per cell) that can be offered - including voice AND data. Voice calls take their chunk of the spectrum too.

    This is why some articles that pretend to do an accurate analysis of the iPhone 3G's speed (or any other 3G device for that matter), based on the fact that "we had full signal strength" or "were sitting right under a mast" are fundamentally wrong. They have no idea with how many other users they are sharing the spectrum.

    I explain more on my blog: (first post).

  53. WTF


    I think you need to check your maths my friend. The whole point of CDMA is exactly that everyone is sharing the same spectrum. The best analogy I know of is trying to hold a private, two person conversation in a small and very crowded room. If everyone is speaking the same language (most first generation cellular technologies), it's very hard for any pair in the room to hear what their opposite is saying. But, if every pair is speaking a different language (i.e. CDMA orthogonal chipping sequence), then holding the conversation becomes a bit easier because all the other conversations going on around you are essentially noise. Another key to this 'different language' analogy is that all pairs have to be holding their conversations at the same volume (i.e. signal power level referenced to the base station). This bit gets to the previous posting about CDMA base stations "breathing" (but this happens so fast that people do not, can not, notice it). The hook for the carriers (and what made Qualcomm very rich) has always been that the more users you cram into the room (i.e. paying customers per unit bandwidth of spectrum), the noisier the room becomes, but all the conversations can continue essentially uninterrupted, at least until the entire system reaches a critical threshold and catastrophically fails (obviously safe guards like selectively dropping calls ensure that this never, or vary rarely ever, actually happens). None of this is to say that CDMA is in anyway inherently superior to current or future competing cellular technologies, and there are a variety of reasons to suggest that it isn't, at least as far as the user is concerned, but rather to suggest that, yeah, some of us do actually "get it."

    Thanks for posting.

  54. Zmodem

    What are 3g capabilities

    its just mobile isdn, you can still use the net if your not on a 3g network, it just becomes the speed of a dialup modem, which you can use with your pc and any dialup isp

  55. Greg


    "How exactly is AGPS not proper GPS?"

    No offence intended (heh), but that has to be one of the most stupid comments I have ever read on this site. It's not GPS because it's AGPS! I mean come on!

    My phone has both GPS and AGPS. With AGPS on, it says "here you are, to within 1700 metres." Wow, that's useful. With GPS on it says "here you are, at this roundabout, in this lane. You're in a blue car, and that shirt is hideous."

    No comparison and certainly no contest. AGPS is absolutely useless. As is the iPhone.

  56. Andy Watt

    Aha! 3G / 2G handovers...

    "I've noticed some wacky going ons with my iPhone's indicated signal strengths - from one bar straight to a full 5, and back to a single bar, when it's sat still on a desk - but then don't most phones do this?"

    Your iPhone is ping-ponging between GSM/EDGE and 3G. This is a perfect example of early imlpementation - I had a PCMCIA card which did exactly the same. In the end I had to lock it to 3G only, and it held the weak 3G signal. Before I did that, it was hard to pull any data through it as it always lost the 3G network shortly after getting a channel, went to 2.5G, then noticed the 3G cell, tried it, then lost it, went back to 2.5G... by the time this happened 3 times, the network (voidaphone) got totally borked as to where I was and I had to perform a network detach / attach to get back on.

    Perhaps some of the comments about 2.5G / 3G handovers are on the money - when they fix hysteresis problems here (in software, mind) things might improve in this area.

  57. Laska


    There seem to be multiple uses for the term AGPS ranging from no GPS chipset, just triangulate position from cell towers, to full GPS chipset using every possible additional aid (cell towers, assistance servers etc) to accelerate how quickly the handset gets a position lock.

    I thought the iPhone was the latter variety of AGPS?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ Greg

    The iPhone has a GPS chip built in... and uses cell triangulation to speed up location if it cant get an accurate fix.

    Paris because she would have known...

  59. Anonymous Coward

    "Turn off 3G in order to save power?"

    I am bit curious about this instruction given by Apple.

    Isn't it so, that in 2G/3G (Dual mode) the phone selects automaticly the most efficent network *in order to save power*. If 2G has better signal strenght, it will be used. If 3G has better signal strenght, that will be used. Only in 3G data transmit/receive (HSUPA/HSDPA) the 3G will consume lots of more power - just because of nature of physics: double the speed, use four times more power. If the receiving method (including modulation, algroithms, etc.) is the same, to be prcise (which they are not 2G vs. 3G).

    Therefore, if you set your phone to 2G, it most likely will wear out the battery much faster, than in Dual Mode. as Idle power consumtion will be higher, when higher signal strenght 3G stations are not allowed to be used. Only situation when this could be feasible is, that 2G/3G signals inside the phone are interfering each others (due antenna, ciruit board or chip set design flaw) and the recepiton quality is much lower, if the both signal paths are activated compared to the situation where only 2G or 3G are on. Here I assume, that the SW can cope with camping between 2G/3G cells/base sttions in efficent way, which it should as the US/EU regulatory certifications have been passed.

    iPhone 3G would not be the first or the last phone to be withdfrawn from markets due production problems. If the production units are not meeting the standards, even the certification units did, the operator are obliged to stop sales. They do also consider the fact, how hard it will hit to their pack pockets.

    Finally: does anybody worry about risk of brain tumor because the phone *may be* shouthing to the base station next to one's ear because production flaws? Anybody?

  60. Sam

    Sub alert

    Check the title.

    Necessary, not necessarily.

    Oh look, it's Friday.

  61. Deep Tank

    Let's stick to the facts...

    Regardless of how 3G works (and many thanks for the various explanations) the fact remains that the iPhone seems to struggle more than others. Therefore it follows that it is not as good. End of strory.

  62. stim

    @ greg

    Greg, saying the iPhone is useless is a bit of a stupid comment in itself - what are your reasons?

  63. David Leeming


    My god, there is such a lack of understanding of GPS, A-GPS (assisted GPS) and "other" positioning systems by use of triangulation of cell towers or wifi spots.

    Firstly the iPhone (and iTouch using a db of wifi spots) can roughly locate your position using a triangulation of signals from cell towers, which in itself is quite a bit of funky technology. This is *NOT* GPS in any form, assisted or otherwise.

    Secondly, the iPhone 3G has a full blown GPS chipset in it, so can get your position down to a few meters. But, like all GPS units it has to download all the ephemeris data from the satellites. This can take up to 10 mins for a unit that has no knowledge of its position at all.

    A-GPS is superior to plain old GPS and don't confuse it with other things. That makes Greg the owner of the

    This is where *assisted* GPS come in. It connects to the interweb and downloads all of the satellite data from a server somewhere at web speed not at 50 BITS/sec that it takes from the sat itself. Now, equipped with all that data, you get a fix very quickly.

    That makes Greg the owner of the stupidest comment here.....

  64. Tom Womack

    GPS and AGPS

    The iPhone 3G has both GPS and AGPS - you get a 'target marker' which starts off about the size of a city district and then zooms down to centre on the house you're in; the original one had only triangulation from cellphones.

    A small problem is that AGPS requires an Internet connection, presumably to check against Apple's database of cell tower positions, and there's no fall-back to the satellite-finding process that something like a Garmin GPS does; so, if you've moved a fair distance since you last pressed the GPS button and don't have connectivity you don't get a position fix at all. Discovered this trying to watch myself moving along a train line in the depths of Sweden ...

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get a clue, Greg.

    @Greg - I think your GPS is actually saying "you're a complete fuckwit". AGPS is a backup for "real" GPS. It kicks in when GPS has lost the plot and needs it's hand held.

    Phone with GPS, no satellite signal: "Fuck knows mate, your guess is as good as mine. Why not ask a Policeman ?"

    Phone with AGPS, no satellite signal: "Well, I know roughly where we are. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick"

  66. Stephane

    GPS and AGPS

    AGPS uses the same global satellite system as GPS to compute your location, thus achieving the same level of performance in terms of accuracy (and sometimes better).

    Its principle is to provide the device with a number of additional information that a usual GPS receiver has to demodulate from the CDMA signal from the satellites, which can take a long time, particularly indoors or under an athermic windshield. The data provided can include timing information, satellites ephemeris, signal correction parameters, and an estimated initial guess for your location. With all that a cold start only takes a few seconds, as opposed to a few minutes with regular GPS.

    @Greg : the 1700m fix you get is only the initial cell-ID location, it is not the final (A)GPS position (leave it some time). If AGPS does not work at least as well as GPS for you, have a pro configure your phone.

  67. Mark A
    IT Angle


    You're confusing A-GPS with network-based location, which is based on cell-tower triangulation and very inaccurate like you say.

    A-GPS is regular GPS - the only difference is how the initial GPS lock is obtained, which the trickiest part. Plain-ol' GPS has to work out which satellites are in range, and download a bunch of data (time corrections etc.) modulated over the weak GPS signal. As any N95 early adopter knows, this can take a long time and tends to go wrong when you're moving.

    A-GPS contacts an assistance server over your phone's data connection and gets the info that way resulting in a near-instant lock. You've got to be careful of data charges though, especially when abroad, or if you're on some sort of "more than zero in and you pay for 24 hours" tariff.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    I alot of words but no information!!

    What is the iPhone's WCDMA sensitivity and uplink TX power?

    The specs call for -117dB and 24dBm (power class 3).

    See: 3GPP TS 25.101

  69. Martin
    Dead Vulture

    not true!

    reality check dear Bill - you can't even imagine how stringent is hardware & software testing done by MOST operators...

  70. Mark Grady

    I mean, really, does it matter?

    If you're not an Apple fan and you don't want an iPhone why do you care if its performance is poor? It doesn't affect you, so be happy that you're getting the service you want.

    The only people it seems should be upset by any of this would be iPhone users who aren't getting the speeds they expect. Although some people have complained about this it seems the majority of the iPhone 3G owners are happy. The guys with the problems should, surely, be reporting their problems as a warranty issue and asking for a swap out?

    I've been a 3G user since the networks rolled it out in the UK using Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola devices quite happily. I am now an iPhone 3G user and in all honesty have not noticed any difference between the iPhones 3G performance and any of my other phones. Maybe I'm lucky - maybe I use my iPhone, by chance, in a way or places that mean I don't experience any problems. All I know is it works fine for me.

    If I have any gripes about the iPhone it's that the Bluetooth profiles aren't comprehensive so I can't link it to my laptop (which is a Tosh - I'm not a Apple fanatic) and that even over the USB cable you can't use the iPhone as a modem device, something I've always used my other 3G phones for. Seems to me that a judicioius OS upgrade could sort both of those - I'd even pay a little extra to buy a patch/upgrade for those (you listening Steve?)

    At the end of the day the iPhone is a good phone, but maybe ot the best or most advanced out there, and service issues seem not to be widespread, although for those experiencing them no doubt a real pain in the behind. No-one is making you buy one if you don't want one/don't like them/don't ike Apple (delete as appropriate) and generally speaking Apple's reutrn poloicies are quite accomodating if you have got one and are having problems.

    "Stop", because I really think it should ...

  71. Ascylto

    I've got an iPhone

    and it works well for me ...

    I don't need a 500 megapixel camera. I've got a camera for that. The phone one is handy for snapping accidents and the occasional conflagration or a Civil Enforcement Officer (formerly known as a Traffic Warden) being uncivil.

    I neither know nor care about HSDPA, QWPRS, GPSQT or any other of those whatevers. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad some of you do care about them because it's how we move ahead, but personally I don't care.

    I don't want to carry around a pair of Bowers & Wilkins reference speakers for my music ... the iPod bit's just fine for me.

    If I want to get to talk to a couple of people at the same time I don't want to have to navigate through menus and get all complicated, I want to just press a button ... the iPhone lets me do that with ease.

    I've got a GPS navigator thing for my car ... it's in a drawer at home because I don't get out much now petrol is £6 a gallon. However, it's nice to know I can use an iPhone to find my destination and route.

    I don't have the kind of job which requires video conferencing.

    I enjoy watching full length movies on a train journey. My iPhone lets me do that on a reasonably sized screen.

    No doubt I am the ideal 'demographic' type for this device.

    The iPhone ain't perfect but I find it interesting that it seems to provoke such massive interest after so short a time in production. Also, I've never seen such a flurry of 'me too' activity in the mobile telephone sector since the advent of the iPhone.

    Oh, to the techno people I'm sure their N99s, M42s, P45s are superior but I often smell a little sourness in their offerings and the likes of W Phreaky just confirm that a new version of National Socialism is a mere breath away.

  72. hey_may
    Thumb Up

    @ all the isn't neccesarily posters

    Come on use your noodle "iPhone 3G isn't necessarily" .... 3G

    Does it have to be spelt out...

    Thumbs up Bill!

  73. James Bassett

    Does anyone use their smartphone as a PIM anymore

    I keep reading all these heated debates about my phone can do this, my phone can do that. It's all based around surfing the web or playing videos etc.

    I've had the (dis) pleasure of using most smartphones over the last eight years and they are all invariably crap at these things. Granted, the iPhone is the least crap, but still absolutely awful.

    On the other hand, these devices can be great PIMS. That's what I remember them being designed for way-back-when as an evolution of the Palms and the Psions. Does anyone use them for this anymore? S60 is horrific at it and the iPhone is, again, better but still crap.

    It does seem that, whilst trying to integrate every function they can into a device that is intrinsicly not suited for the task (largely due to the lack of screen space but also because all these things are desgined to work on PC's with multiple buttons) they have forgotten about the things these devices can be very good at. Organising your data.

    Or is that just not "hip" in the world2.0?

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. iPhone usability in general

    Well, I have an iPhone as work phone (it's lighter than a PC to demo our stuff) and I have thus had time to use it. I also have a Nano, and an iPod Touch.

    The Nano is used when sporting, the iPod hangs off my stereo (I'm not an audophile so it's OK for me), and the iPhone is now mainly used as iPod - for everything else I'm back to using my Sony Ericsson P1i.

    To make it clear: it doesn't work for *me* - your mileage may differ.

    First off, I have a large number of telephone numbers to carry, and I use the phone as PIM as well. Contacts is a drag, it takes (even post firmware update) several seconds to wake up.

    Secondly, task switching on a iPhone (which always has to pass the "home" screen for selection) is a royal pain, and slow as heck. Actually, the whole phone is a slug, which makes for crap usability because it caches what you do on the UI.

    Thirdly, the large screen is only an advantage in showing images and portable video, for everything else including email reading I prefer the Sony as it has pen input and keyboard. What's more, I work in several languages and I have yet to figure out how to enter accented characters. If the keyboard isn't set up for the language, it appears I can forget about accents..

    Fourthly, what's the %$£& deal with blocking paid for songs not to be used as a ringtone? The iPhone is the only phone on the market (AFAIK) where this has been deliberately omitted. I guess it's on the off chance I might want to pay AGAIN to have the same song as ringtone, at the usual vastly inflated price (add it up what a whole song would cost at that rate). Well, fat chance. I don't pirate music at all, but I'm starting to understand why piracy is an upwards trend rather than downwards, despite all efforts to bend the law.

    Last but not least, the Stalin approach to app installs means I get constantly iTunes shop emails about apps I have downloaded, and every time even the free ones update I get that rubbish again. And it means it will take longer (and will be more expensive) to have some safe apps out there that can secure the phone and data.

    Well, I prefer the flexibility and (recent) openness of the Symbian platform, thanks. And the UI works a LOT better for me, whatever cute marketing you may throw at it.

    So I'm glad the iPhone is my work phone - it is diverted to the phone that works. That other one has its problems too, but it works. Better.

  75. bob

    Scare mongering

    Looks like AT&T in US have a problem. User reports in US on AT&T have problems reaching download speeds above 1.3Mbps. In Europe lots of people are experiencing download speeds between 2-3Mbps. European operators are currently supporting HSDPA cat6 which has a theoretical maximum of 3.6Mbps download. Also remember 3G cells share data resouces between the number of users on the cell. The more people on the cell the slower the data rates. Its quite possible the networks have seen a large spike in data calls since the 3G iPhone launch but of course it wouldnt be a fault of the networks ;) The only way to really prove this is to run parallel tests with comparible reference phones.

  76. Ivan Headache

    Triangulation etc..

    Now that this thread has developed into a GPS, AGPS debate I want to ask a question that hopefully someone with genuine knowledge can answer.

    I was out and about in Clerkenwell yesterday (London for those that don't know) an area that has lots of small streets that I am not familiar with.

    I have an ipod touch so as i walked along I kept monitoring for an open WIFI so that I could get a map. Eventually i found one and was able to get my location on the excellent google map - and seriously (Greg - this is for you) my location circle was about the width of the street and the centre was spot on my position on that street (and it took about 10-15 seconds to do it).

    Having established my general route I set off. A few minutes later, I had to check whether I needed the second or third turning on the right so I looked at the map again - which was still on the screen. So was my location circle - and it was showing exactly where I had reached - and no, I was not connected to any wireless. I then walked the rest of my trip watching the map and watching my location circle following me to within a few metres.

    After visiting the client I walked to Euston and the circle, like my shadow, followed me all the way.

    How did it do that when I only had the one Wifi Connection in Roseberry Avenue?

  77. Anonymous Coward

    It is important

    Poor radio performance is important. If the sensitivity is low your own data rate for a given signal quality will be lower than other phones and your absolute coverage will be less. In addition it effects everyone else in the cell as the Node B will need to transmit more power to you, using up its finite power budget and creating inter and intra cell interference to others.

    @Mark Grady, poor radio performance does affect you (and others).

    @"Turn off 3G in order to save power?", bad post mate. Dual mode phones don't select networks *in order to save power*. They stick to 3G unless the signal strength isn't good enough in which case they fall back to 2G. 3G is totally different to 2G, is fundamentally more power hungry due to the higher chiprate used (3.84Mchip/s) and the need for linear PA with higher peak to average ratios than GSM's GMSKs. 2G and 3G signals do not interfere with each other inside the phone! Locking it to 2G will use less power than 3G.

    @Andy Watt, the ping-pong between 2G and 3G is controlled by network parameters, nothing to do with the handset.

  78. WT

    here is how to enable multiple international keyboards ...

    "If the keyboard isn't set up for the language, it appears I can forget about accents."

    Open the settings app, tap on "General", scroll down to where it says "Keyboard", tap on that, then tap on "International Keyboards", then select whichever keyboards you will want to use. You can activate multiple keyboards there.

    If you have multiple international keyboards activated, then the keyboard will display a button with a globe icon, tap that button to select the keyboard you need for input, tap on it again to select another one, etc.

  79. Greg


    "@Greg : the 1700m fix you get is only the initial cell-ID location, it is not the final (A)GPS position (leave it some time). If AGPS does not work at least as well as GPS for you, have a pro configure your phone."

    Or just....turn on...the GPS receiver?

  80. Will

    @ Greg

    Now who's the stupid one :-) Glad everyone here has put you straight.

  81. Mike
    Thumb Up


    What you say is true - just that the analogy against the 'old' networks is not true. The old networks gave everyone a ticket that told them in which turn they could talk, like a queue at the supermarket's cheese stand (this is TDMA with a slotted ALOHA). Thus, everyone talked the same language, just that they talked in a very orderly fashion one at a time.

    In CDMA, everyone talks at once - each with his own "language", which only him and the cell understand. Everything else is just noise. Wait a minute. Noise. There is a factor of basic radio physics that the modern all-computer-no-soldering-iron wizzkids forget, called Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). A radio receiver CANNOT hear anything that is below its sensitivity level when the SNR is too low. Thus, as more users get onto a CDMA cell, more noise, more desensitized everyone becomes, and so on. The problem is not trivial particularly in busy cities, when cell density cannot be too high. No amount of lab work and theoretical models can break the basic laws of physics.

    Cheers, and thanks for posting an insightful comment.

  82. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    N95 *is* superior

    "The iPhone does support HSDPA "at high speeds" (why do all iPhone threads bring out the "MY N78/N95/N-whatever IS SUPERIOR TO YOUR PUNY JOBS DEVICE!!!1"?)"

    Because they are superior... you can put your own software on an N95, instead of dealing with jailbreaking or having to get all software through Apple. And, iphone might technically support HSDPA "at high speeds", but when the RF is so much poorer than every other phone, it's fair to claim they are faster.

  83. Zoe
    Jobs Halo

    Keyboard Accents

    "If the keyboard isn't set up for the language, it appears I can forget about accents."

    Just hold down your finger on whatever letter you want the accent for, while typing - it should come up with all the possible variations of that letter. Slide your finger over to the one you want to select it.

    Steve because things really are that simple with Apple products (ok, ok, bash me already!) :-P

  84. Anonymous Coward

    iPhone doesn't have a hook to attach a lucky talisman

    Well, my Japanese girlfriend says the iPhone is inferior to all others NOT because of any technical features, software, user interface, signal strength etc etc etc, NO BUT because it doesn't have a hook to attach a lucky talisman, which apparently all other mobile phones on the Japanese market have. Japanese females like to attach those lucky talisman thingies to things, especially mobile phones. I didn't think of it, but apparently to some of them this is more important a feature than how well the electronics and the software perform.

    To me this was a wake up call, a reminder that we are taking ourselves too seriously and that we should more often shut up instead of passing universal judgement on things. The reasons we have why we think something is superior or inferior may not matter to the next person at all, and the reason the next person may have why they think something is superior or inferior may have totally escaped us.

  85. Julian Garrett

    And when it doesn't sell, for the same reasons as last time

    They will drop their prices. Shit, I thought Apple put SOME value on what customers thought, obviously not.

    If this is the way operators are going to treat their customers, this iPhone will flop just like the last one did (outside of America). Purses are being tightened and people know what extortion is when they see it.

    I was going to buy one but I am off to get an N95 instead... better phone too.

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