In the "great minds think alike" category I see that Kevin just posted about this topic too.  :) The iPhone 3G was easily one of the phones most highly demanded as evidenced by the long lines to buy one that lasted for weeks.  Now that the […]

Iphone In the "great minds think alike" category I see that Kevin just posted about this topic too.  :)

The iPhone 3G was easily one of the phones most highly demanded as evidenced by the long lines to buy one that lasted for weeks.  Now that the luster is off of the brand new iPhone grumblings are beginning to crop up all over the web about the phone’s shortcomings.  I figured I’d better point out the problems others are having and shed some light on my own usage experience now that a month has passed since the iPhone’s release.

Our own Om Malik is having 3G connectivity issues and like everyone else experiencing them it’s unclear whether they stem from the AT&T network itself or some hardware problem with the phone.  When Om couples the low 3G speeds with low signal strength (except in his living room) he is less than impressed.  This impression is shared with C/NET staffers who point out that due to the problems with 3G reception that voice calls are dropped by many who are complaining.  It doesn’t sound good when you take all of this in at once. 

Probably the person most disappointed with the iPhone 3G’s problems is Matt Miller, MobileTechRoundup co-host and ZDNet blogger.  Matt has written a scathing piece detailing his many problems with the iPhone and admits he may return his before the 30 day grace period is up.  Matt details numerous stability issues he is encountering that forces his phone to crash apps regularly.  He also compares the signal strength he sees regularly on his iPhone with that of other phones on the AT&T network and his conclusion is that the iPhone’s 3G reception is flawed in comparison.  That’s pretty damning evidence that something is rotten in Cupertino all right.

My own experience with the iPhone 3G is after the jump.

I have mentioned the instability of the iPhone 3G and my hope that the OS update would address that.  I was seeing program crashes regularly in the beginning and my take was that there are memory handling problems with the iPhone 3G.  This is the first iPhone that allows third party applications and my observations led me to believe the crashes were happening when the memory was getting stretched too thin.  I am happy to say that said phone update did improve things in my experience.  I rarely have crashes now and I can say for certain that I have much fewer of them than I did pre-update.  I do make a conscious habit of not running too many memory-intensive things at once, especially with Mobile Safari.

Apple restricts you to a maximum of 8 tabs open in Safari at once on the iPhone but I can guarantee that if I get more than 3 tabs open I am prone to see one of the browser crashes that Matt mentions.  This is exacerbated by large websites that bring in a lot of data when they open.  If I keep it down to 3 tabs at once I never have Safari crash.  It definitely sounds like memory handling to me.

I too have seen the 3G reception problems that many are complaining about, although not in great number like some.  What I have decided is that when I am in an area that is right on the fringe of 3G coverage that the problems ensue.  It’s as if the iPhone is trying to switch back and forth between the lousy 3G signal in these areas and the EDGE network.  I can watch the 3G signal drop to nothing and when I turn off the 3G in the settings at these times the EDGE signal will be nearly full strength.  I will see dropped calls in these fringe areas if I leave 3G on but when I am in a good 3G signal area I have no problems at all.  I believe it is a combination of a weak 3G antenna on the iPhone and the spotty nature of the AT&T 3G network.  It’s not good but it’s not a killer for me personally.  In my house I have lousy 3G signal on all phones I try and the iPhone is no worse than the others so I leave 3G turned off at home.  EDGE works great and is actually faster than I thought it would be.  I turn on 3G as soon as I leave the house and in most places it works just as expected.  I have noticed though that when I am in a building in a lousy 3G signal area that the iPhone will often show "No Service" on 3G.

Overall I am pretty happy with the performance of the iPhone although I can understand the complaints that are being levied against it.  I do think that Apple needs to address the 3G antenna problems which will alleviate a lot of the complaints.  As for the app crashes, I strongly recommend that users watch what they open at once.  Keep it down and you’ll likely have no crashes but start opening a lot at once, like many tabs in the browser and you’re asking for trouble.

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  1. Daniel Seiden Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    My biggest issue other than the strange 3G behavior is the contacts being laggy. When I email a photo it seems to get stuck thinking really really hard about opening the contacts for me to select a person to send it to. This got a little better with the bug fix firmware but still shows its ugly head from time to time.

    I wish there was a task manager to see if apps had gotten stuck sucking up memory. I am guessing that some of them may not close properly. I find myself resetting the phone once a day just like a Windows Mobile phone to keep things running smooth.

    Having said that I still like it but all the little problems are starting to get on my nerves. I hope Apple addresses these issues soon. My Nokia N95 is calling my name.

  2. I keep wondering what the heap space of the iPhone OS is. Insufficient heap space was an ongoing problem with Palm OS (might still be) and apps crashing. I wonder if the same issue applies here?

  3. Justin Campbell Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    I used to have horrible reception. Someone suggested turning 3G off, and surprisingly it worked. I get great reception almost everywhere. I have Wifi at home and work, so losing 3G isn’t that big of a deal. EDGE is still good enough for email and Google Reader, and I can always turn 3G on if I want to download an app or something.

  4. I have 1gen iphone and reception is generally fine. But i’m experiencing pretty bad batery life with 2.0 firmware and wonder 3g iPhone may share the problem. After 2.0, my iPhone battery lasts about half of what it used to do. I have a few 3rd party apps installed and they could be culprits, but it’s annoying nontheless especially considering jailbroken 1.1.4 firmware with multiple apps many of which running background had no such battery issue. I’m seriously considering downgrading now.

  5. Interesting. I’m usually the first one to bash bad performance, especially with Apple products which are easy to see thru the hype with. But my 3g iphone has been extremely good, and that’s a jailbroken one running heavy duty apps like Quake for example.

    I also live in east buttf$&# egypt (ie: western MA) and find my reception is quite good out here. All the areas where my Sprint phone constantly dropped, I’ve never dropped yet with ATT.

    I will say though that while the iphone performs its small feature set almost flawlessly, it’s not perfect. There is a windows mobile like lag on a lot of functions like opening contacts, phone, email, etc., and yes this is after the 2.0.1 update.

    Overall I’m satisfied, certainly more satisfied than the 2nd iteration of WM, or Pocket PC as it was back then. If the iphone can be this much more stable in only it’s 2nd hardware iteration I’m impressed.

  6. Oh yes, I agree with the battery comment. I do see half of my battery life gone with the 2.0.1 update. I used to be able to keep wifi on and at the end of the day I’d still have 60% or more. But now just a couple of calls and wifi and after a couple of hours I’m below 50%.

    It’s good to know that based on previous performance the battery issues are firmware/software related and hopefully Apple fixes them.

  7. Bruce MacLean Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    I have a ATT Tilt phone currently and I am thinking about an getting an 3G iPhone, but there is much press about its shortcomings. In today’s San Francisco Chronicle there is an article, link below, about the problems with an iPhone which are some of the same issues that are being noted here. I must admit that many of same issues people have with the iPhone I have with my Tilt. The reception on the Tilt at times is horrendous. I can be in a chair in my living room and go from 4 bars to having the call drop without warning. The strong signal to no signal happens to me in many other locations throughout the Bay Area even though I have never moved more than 5 feet. The battery life of the Tilt, based upon my usage pattern, is not great and it crashes on average about once a day.

    So is the iPhone that bad, or is it just like the other 3G ATT phones?


  8. James Kendrick Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    spinedoc, aren’t you the one who a good while back lived in Belgium or the Netherlands or someplace like that?

  9. The 3G has worked fine for me. The iPhone 3G crashes often however, causing me to do 28 total restores. iTunes and iPhone software is very buggy and apps crash all the time. I actually returned the iPhone and got a replacement. No improvements with the replacement.

    Apple needs a fix for the software ASAP. The iPhone 2.0 was certainly not ready for release. No quitting app should kill all of them and in many cases kill the phone!

  10. As I wrote about here, 3G reception on my iPhone 3G is always significantly worse than on my Nokia N95-3 in the same location.


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