iPhone 3G problems rankling many owners

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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