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Summary:

Om has complained about his frustration with the 3G iPhone, which has poor reception and forces him to spend more time on the 2.5G EDGE network than he thought, but the issue may be with Infineon’s 3G chip, according to Richard Windsor, an analyst with Nomura […]

Om has complained about his frustration with the 3G iPhone, which has poor reception and forces him to spend more time on the 2.5G EDGE network than he thought, but the issue may be with Infineon’s 3G chip, according to Richard Windsor, an analyst with Nomura Securities. In a research note today, he said: “We believe that these issues are typical of an immature chipset and radio protocol stack where we are almost certain Infineon is the 3G supplier.” That comment might cheer AT&T, but it’s bad news for Infineon, and perhaps a warning to the chip industry about quality control.

Windsor writes that the problem isn’t likely to be solved with firmware updates, which means Apple could have to replace the chips so users get the performance they were promised. If the chip is the problem, this would be the second large chip failure this summer, with Nvidia’s faulty graphics chips placed in thousands of laptops grabbing most of the headlines so far.

The Nvidia issue appears to be caused by poor packaging, and the company has taken a $150-$200 million charge related to fixing the problem, but neither OEMs nor end customers are happy about the situation — especially Nvidia’s reluctance to disclose the full scope of the failure. I’ve emailed Infineon to see what they have to say about the iPhone chip and whether they make it themselves or outsource production as Nvidia has done with its graphics chips, but given Apple’s tendencies we might have to wait a while until we know the truth.

  1. [...] Stacey Higgenbothem alludes to a possible issue with the 3G chip, which is believed to be supplied by Infineon. If the issue is with hardware, then it could be a real challenge to fix with a firmware upgrade. The other side of the equation is the network itself. With over 3 million iPhone 3G devices sold already, is the AT&T network crumbling under heavy demand for voice and speedy data? An official AT&T statement indicates that the iPhone 3G is performing well and that issues are handled on a case-by-case basis.  [...]

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  2. Another reason why I’m waiting to upgrade my iPhone to the new 3G model. I’d rather wait see what happens with the 3G phone in terms of other hardware changes, etc.
    R

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  3. I have three iPhones in my household and have not seen any problems at all with 3G. I have had some problems with quitting apps, but iPhone reception has been flawless. My co-worker has two iPhones and I have three other friends with iPhone, no problems with 3G.

    I think you may have a bad unit and that is all.

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  4. I have an iphone 3G in the UK and have had it replaced by the apple store as the 3G chip was faulty…comparison with their store iphone showed up that my iphone had 3 bars less reception than on their referance phone instore.
    New iphone works perfectly.

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  5. While it would be nice to blame the 3G problem on someone else, Apple still has a lot to apologize for. The 2.0 firmware was so terrible and buggy that it’s difficult to tell where the software problems end and the hardware problems begin. 2.0.1 fixes some performance issues, but there’s still a lot yet to be resolved.

    I have a theory about the 3G problem… While I don’t have the 3G myself, I’ve found the Wi-Fi reception on the 2G iPhone to be quite terrible. It’s worse than my laptop, and worse than my HTC Mogul. I have a feeling that, to mask the terrible battery performance, Apple’s being too aggressive with power-management. Apple’s under-powering the antenna, it’s picking up a weak 3G signal, so the iPhone is dropping back to EDGE. Because it’s much more energy-efficient, EDGE works fine with the under-powered antenna.

    It’s just a theory, supported by anecdotal evidence, but it makes sense to me. Heck, given the reports of how bad the 3G battery-life is, being forced to use EDGE seems more like a feature than a bug. I bet Apple would say the same, if they ever commented about anything.

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  6. Somehow Infineon’s web site’s down.

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  7. Is there any good news coming from Apple these days?
    Mobile me = fail, need I say more?
    App Store = joke, apps keep coming and going, none of them are of any real use
    iPhone = fail, 3G problems, battery issues, bad GPS, case cracking, chip problems

    Ive been an apple user for a number of years but frankly im really warming to windows. I have fewer problems with my office Windows based notebook and MS Mesh is great.

    My opinion is that apple really are on the slippery slop now. oh well it was good whilst it lasted.

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  8. oops I forgot one thing.

    This whole cloud computing thing (which in fact im a big fan of).. first of all apple released the mac book air which is basically a cloud computing device and then goes on to demonstrate how little they know and how little they can execute a cloud computing initiative aka Mobile Me.

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  9. Jeff Jennings Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Gee my iPhone 3G works great. I’m at the fringes of the service area at home and get acceptible reception. In my small town of 80,000 I get great reception most everywhere.

    As for the issues with the buggy 2.0 release I think Apple is doing just fine. Overall I am pleased. A longer lasting battery would be nice but there are constraints with the form factor. Stop whining and get a extra USB cord to charge on your office computer and a car charger.

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