back to article Apple admits third of iPhone calls in New York are dropped

A New-York iPhone user who complained that his handset was dropping 22 per cent of calls was told he should be grateful it wasn't worse, and that it's AT&T's fault. One of Gizmodo's readers took his iPhone into an Apple store and presented it at the "Genius Bar", complaining that it was dropping calls. The Apple-monikered …


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  1. Jonathan Cohen


    Sorry, what? More than 1 in 4 calls fail and that's normal? In a city?

    I know London and New York are similar and different in many ways, but I can't believe it's so much harder to provide coverage in NY.

    Here in the UK I spend hours on my phone and travel across London on calls almost every day, with two phones on Vodafone and Orange. On Orange, I can't remember the last time a call dropped, on Vodafone there is one office I visit where 2G coverage is a bit poor, but 3G fine, which leads me to the following non technical guess about the AT&T/iPhone issue....

    I have both an unlocked iPhone and an N95. In that office with poor Vodafone 2G signal the N95 is fine as it sits in 3G mode. The iPhone however seems to get confused and regularly drops into 2G mode with poor signal. On a Nokia of course you can also turn off 2G/GSM... but this option seems to be missing from the iPhone.

    Could it be the iPhone has a preference for ye olde 2G/GSM and is failing to pick up the shiny new WCDMA 3G (which it seems some new masts only provide), causing the dropped calls?

  2. Chris 63

    This isn't unusual

    AT&T coverage is terrible in New York anyway, even using 'normal' mobiles.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Big Brother

    iPhone owners actually use the phone?

    I now know quite a few people with a JesusPhone and they are mainly intelligent. But when it comes to their toy the intelligence seems to cut out. They love it so much they seem to be prepared to put up with all kinds of shit (higher tarriffs, poor service, etc.) for the privilege of owning.

    Kudos to Apple for coming up with the ultimate McGuffin.

  4. Craig 12

    iphone dropping calls

    I've had dropped iphone calls in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama.) The top poster might be on to something... in marginal reception, the iphone just cannot decide and flits between 3G, E and whatever the dot means.

  5. Robert Wakeling

    per a previous comment of mine on El Reg

    Choose a bright screen and data or long battery life and good radio performance. You can't have it all

  6. Richard 102

    AT&T is horrible

    Anecdote <> Evidence, BUT:

    I've heard and seen some complaints about Sprint, but honestly, I had very few drops with them over the course of 4-5 years. When we switched to AT&T, it's been Drop City. This has been with four or five different phone models; the iPhone is actually the best of the lot, and it's still not good.

  7. Martin 6 Silver badge


    If you were AT+T which is more profitable?

    Spending $M on lots of microcells so your users get good reception.

    Or, doing a deal to be the monopoly supplier of the most popular new phone - locking users into a 3year $3K contract and then not providing a good service.

  8. VombatusAmericanus

    No IPhone but have AT&T and was in NYC recently...

    and the coverage was the equivalent of, hmm, sucking thick mud through a drinking straw. No, it was slower than that. And 1 of 3 being dropped isn't far off...

    Even worse than voice was data coverage. There essentially wasn't any. Zip.

  9. ZenCoder

    and yet the advertise excellent coverage?

  10. Eddy Ito

    Alternate view

    I'd wager an alternative to more spectrum would be providers who actually give a shit about service. A little mobility between mobile service providers would go a long way to fixing the problem. Screw that must use provider "A" to have phone "B" shit.

    Still waiting for the commodification of wireless spectrum. I know, it's going to be a long wait but I really don't see anything compelling coming down the pike.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @iPhone owners actually use the phone?

    Well I certainly do.

    The tarriff is very similar to what I enjoyed with my ancient SE T600 - oh wait, that's probably because I just moved the SIM across to the iPhone. Coverage and reliability is just as good too, and if I ever do encounter problems I'll just chuck a SIM from another network into it.

    You should try using an iPhone sometime - you might be surprised at what it can do, in addition to making phone calls, if you know how to use it properly. Personally I'm looking foward to using it as my boarding pass on my next domestic flight - one less queue to join at the airport.

  12. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Immature networks

    Don't forget in the US that GSM style networks are still a pretty new thing. So 3G isn't really that mature over there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Better yet, dish out that spectrum to new providers

    With several more cell phone companies in the US, I bet we'd see that dropped call rate approach zero.

  14. Nexox Enigma

    You think that's bad?

    In the SF Bay Area, there are so many iPhones around that AT&T's network is almost completely useless. I've had better 3G speeds in the middle of a corn field in Nebraska than anywhere I've been in Northern California. And the corn field was a little past the edge of where AT&T even claimed to have spotty service, wheras the entire bay area is supposedly saturated with their best 3G coverage. There is so much traffic in this area from the iPhone that AT&T can't even keep the normal 2G / 3G channel allocation, so if you still have a 2G phone, your voice calls either fail or sound like garbage. Every time AT&T / Apple release some new service that attracts users to use more bandwidth, you can pretty much expect a total lack of service for a day or two while they figure out how to make their equipment stay turned on, and not on fire.

  15. Steve Gooberman-Hill

    Cost of doing business

    I recall the CEO of a (nameless) opeerator telling me "we are not in the phone business - we are in the selling top-up cards business. The network is one of our overheads"

  16. bish


    This is why, here in the UK, I've put off getting an iPhone. Sure, they're not super-magical solve-all-your-problems phones, but there's quite a few apps that would be really very useful to me, but I'm not trading that usefulness for lack of connectivity on 02 (which is rubbish in my area - a couple of friends have them and the amount of time they spend wandering round peering at their handsets, looking for a decent connection just doesn't seem worth it).

    I thought about buying an iPod Touch, but that'd mean carrying around two things to break/lose/have stolen, and I've gotten used to my phone being an all-in-one. The news that the iPhone's coming to Orange is good for me, since their coverage is excellent, and my current contract runs out at the start of November.

  17. BOBSta

    Same over here on O2?

    I'm awaiting the outcome of scrap/media frenzy of which networks will be selling the iPhone 3GS alongside O2, in the hope of being able to upgrade to one later this year. I'm currently on O2 with a Nokia N73 and noticed that call quality, call volume, signal strength and coverage is definitely getting worse - especially over the last couple of months!

    I regularly get disconnected mid-conversation, seemingly at random. It can happen at any time, whether I'm at home (full 3G in Nottingham), walking around city centres (again full 3G) driving on the M1 to and from work (junctions 26-33 using a car kit) or at work (half 3G signal). As soon as I get disconnected I look at the phone (not in the car, obviously, officer), and I've got full signal strength! What's going on?

    Surely it's about time the phone companies moved to an intelligent, nearest mast auto-reconnection technology instead of desperately trying to hold on to the last mast you're connected to for as long as possible?

    I used to be on Orange and got 1 minute of credited talk time automatically if I was every disconnected. Ironically, I moved to O2 back in 2005 because their coverage was better than Orange's. I've complained to O2 about being disconnected, and was told that it's basically tough, that they don't offer any guarantee of connectivity, and won't be re-compensing me! WTF!?

    O2 is crap and I'm sick of paying through the nose for their poor coverage!

  18. EdwardP

    @Charlie Clark

    O2 were happy to give me an iPhone without any changes to my tariff.

    They did however, throw in insurance, unlimited data, more free minutes than I had before, a dedicated iPhone support number.

    It's yet to drop a single call with me, and while the 3G can be a little patchy, I consider it a seriously good deal.

  19. pitagora

    IPhone sucks

    IPhone sucks. When I bought I expected being able to use to talk too....not just look at it. By the way...does anybody want to buy an iphone? :))

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