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Poll: Friends Don't Let Friends Buy AT&T's iPhone

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UPDATED: Ever since I broke up with my iPhone, not a day passes without me hearing from someone who shares the same sentiments about AT&T’s network. AT&T, of course, has done little more than hem and haw about the problem, which is much more widespread than we think.

This week at our Green:Net conference, a number of people came up to me to share their frustration with the iPhone/AT&T 3G network; most said they switch to the slower EDGE and/or Wi-Fi in order to use their iPhone. So in an attempt to gauge the extent of the problem, we have created a poll/survey. Update: To be clear, we have issued this in an effort to understand the extent/nature of the problems that folks are having with the AT&T iPhone. If you are happy with it, please fill out only the questions that reflect that and skip the ones that don’t apply to you. We will present the results in context.

Poll is now closed.

62 Responses to “Poll: Friends Don't Let Friends Buy AT&T's iPhone”

  1. I am in NYC, and yes the AT&T network is abysmal in certain locations. I rode the Staten Island Ferry last night, and any time there is a large number of iPhones (and presumably other AT&T devices) in one spot you know there will be awful problems.

    That said: I have no evidence that AT&T is any worse than T-Mobile, my previous carrier. Indeed they may be better. And I wouldn’t go to Verizon under any circumstances: I travel, thus a CDMA phone would be useless to me, I need GSM. And Verizon’s customer service is just beyond bad. They’re still my ISP/land line — I have no words for how horrific their support is. I was a Verizon customer before T-Mobile (and back then Verizon’s network sucked too — presumably they’ve improved).

    So bottom line, yes, AT&T has huge problems, they really, really need to improve, but the competition is not exactly great either, They all need to make huge improvements. Wireless service quality in European countries is so superior to what any US provider offers it isn’t funny.

    And lastly, the iPhone for all the AT&T problems, is so much better than anything else, there’s no much of a choice, for me, anyway.

  2. iPhone is a nice phone to be sure but I have seen odd issues with the AT&T data network including inability to hit the internet on Friday afternoons in Sunnyvale, CA as well as odd stuff on the East Coast with APNs not seeming to like internet traffic on ephemeral ports like 8080 while the West Coast seems to have little problem with such. Weird, huh?

  3. Also, i agree this poll is biased. It is NOT intuitive that you can just answer the first question and move on. THere are no “optional” tags next to any of the questions…however, i did leave the ones blank that did not apply to me and it worked.

    Just make a better poll next time.

    • Apparently, OM just needed a little flame bait for more traffic on his site. It worked as this stupid survey is all over the net already. This is why his blogs are so successful. I guess I should learn from his baiting tactics.

  4. JosephP

    It’s certainly useful to explore the iPhone’s and AT&T’s problems, but look at the title of this post! And the idea that one can just answer the first question and move on? No one will understand that.

    I’ve enjoyed GigaOM for ages, but I’m sorry- this is some kind of journalistic malpractice. If I didn’t know what I know about Om, I’d be thinking he’s on a competitor’s payroll. This is not Om’s finest hour….

    • There are perhaps _thousands_ of iPhones running on T-Mobile. Yes, you don’t have the 3G goodness – but you don’t have the $30/month data plan either. So, there are network choices, from what I understand. Not that I have any personal experience with T-Mobile ;-)

    • Bob Woods

      I’m running a 1G iPhone on T-Mobile, and it works fine. I bought mine used, but in new condition from someone who was sticking with AT&T, and he went back to his old Blackberry. I don’t think Apple or AT&T have anything to say about my using it there, the iPhone was unsubsidized, and AT&T didn’t lose a customer.

      The thing I like best is that while not having to use AT&T – the cost of my service plan, plus my wife’s phone, PLUS the data plan is less than I’d be paying AT&T for the iPhone alone.

  5. majortom1981

    I have an att fuze and i dont get any dropped calls my data speed is a little bit on the slow side(testmyiphone shows higher then edge speeds though) but other then that no real problems. I am on long island if that matters.

  6. Om,

    Boy am I surprised at the stupid question in this so called survey. YOU assume all iPhone users are unhappy, look at the questions! I could not be happier with my iPhone and AT&T. So I could not EVEN take the damn survey correctly, even though the FIRST question allows for a HAPPY owner!

    I understand that you live in another part of the country, but my experience has been quite different than yours. We have three iPhones in our household in NJ and they work better than Verizon did in our house!

    Heard of “Fair and Balanced?” Apparently not! This shows stupidity on your part. Not at all real. If the iPhone and AT&T network was so bad Blackberry Storm would be number one and people would have returned the iPhone. This DID NOT HAPPEN DID IT?

    • Nicholas

      Hey, I’m happy with the iPhone, and I believe Om was as well. He was not happy with AT&T! Big difference.

      Coming from A Sony Ericsson P910, I must say that this is the first Mobile that was truly useful. There will be others to come including Android, but the statistic confirm that iPhone users use the device to extremes. Sadly for me, this means living with less than acceptable data service. Hopefully, AT&T will get their act together, but I’m not holding my breath.

  7. william

    I love my iPhone. I’m already scheming how to swing the iPhone 3 when it comes out (pass my iPhone to my wife? don’t think she wants it. 11 yr. old daughter? I’m not insane.)

    Concerned that my survey answers will exagerate the extent of my displeasure, which is extremely low. The iPhone is such a pleasure to use. I’d like more battery, there are other little things that can be improved, but it is so much nicer than my previous SE, Motorola, Nokia, etc. phones.

    Don’t like WinMobile hate the old Palm (Pre seems good.) Where are all those iPhone beater Android phones? It’s sure taking a long time for the #2 model to come out. Ho hum.

  8. OK Om, we get it.

    You made the tough decision to give up your AT&T iPhone and wake up every morning wondering if you did the right thing. Then once a week or so the uncertainty builds up and posting about it in hopes of finding others who have made the same decision makes you feel better.

    If it helps, I have stuck with the iPhone/AT&T and wake up every morning wondering if *I* have made the right decision, and trying to justify that decision. For me, the iPod/iTunes experience, plus knowing the App Store will always have new, useful, fun, cool stuff, helps me through it.

    Good luck!

  9. Om I think the complaint against this poll is that the results will be be picked up by other blogs and sensationalized.

    its your own fault with having a popular site that wields too much influence in the tech blog-sphere! :)

    • sensationalized — no we will provide results that are completely in context. if things are good, then they are good. there is a lot of problems with the service and the network – period. did you read the new york times article. it is a widespread problem.

  10. stephenpetit

    I read those survey questions and thought, I really hope we don’t see a “97% of survey respondents dissatisfied with iPhone” headline on this site…

    No real complaints here in Seattle or anywhere I travel, actually. I get a dropped call every now and again, but no worse than what I experienced with T-Mobile, Rogers, or any of the other carriers I’ve used over the years. As for the iPhone, I love the device for what it can do both on and off the network.

  11. Hi

    OK So this poll is to prove what. That people who live in an area of sketchy coverage have problem.

    Lets not forget that the US is behind the rest of the world when its comes to GSM and 3G mobile technology. They seemed happy using Analog mobiles years after the rest of us has resigned them to toys for our children to use as playphones.

    But comeon this pole is Biased, Im a very Happy UK based Iphone user.

  12. I’m convinced it’s location specific.

    In central NJ I have a great 3G connection with a little latency, but for wireless it’s fast,s table and reliable.

    When I’m in NYC, it’s much slower, and 3G is non-existent in Penn Station until on the track level (which presumably is treated separately by AT&T’s network since they must have specially wired that area for connectivity as nothing from outside gets in. That said, it’s usable and I do get use out of my phone… but it’s not the network as advertised.

    IMHO it’s 100% AT&T that is problematic. And given my commute demonstrates on a daily basis that it’s very location specific.

    AT&T needs to shore up their SF and NYC network or it’s going to get a long lasting reputation.

  13. rt_software

    Pittsburgh PA network is OK, not perfect, its hilly so as a result there are some dark spots. Verizon’s network is clearly better, but I have no regrets about switching from Verizon to get my iPhone. I do agree with other responses that some of these poll questions don’t provide the necessary choices and as a result I don’t think the data will be as useful as it could have been.

  14. Harvrock

    In Philadelphia, I have absolutely no problems with 3G network speed. Now, call quality is something to be considered, and I have had a dropped call or three, but speed I haven’t seen problems with.

  15. I can confirm that the only reason I put up with crappy AT&T coverage is the fact that I can’t get iPhone from any other carrier. I live in a concrete building and there’s no AT&T coverage in most floors of the building. I have to be near my window of my apartment to get a good signal. Forget about browsing the internet using AT&T’s 3G/EDGE network – its slow and drops connections regularly. My speedtest shows only about 110Kbps.

    I sincerely wish (a) that Apple insist to AT&T that they invest a LOT on their network if they want to continue the exclusive iPhone contract or (b) Apple provides iPhone with other carriers with *reliable* network (*cough*Verizon*cough*). But I have a feeling neither is going to happen. Which means, come this summer: here I come Palm Pre & Sprint!!

  16. I live in New York City and have tons of complaints. Not just me, but everyone I know who has an iPhone at least complains about the painfully slow 3G internet connection. Maybe everyone who wants a good experience should move to Tampa. I love my iPhone, but not that much.

    I wish Apple would open the iPhone to other carriers. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed about the iPhone OS 3.0. I hope noticeable network changes happen with launch of the updated OS. If not, I may have to start thinking about switching to an iPod Touch to begin dating the Pre.

  17. It’s the same with Dutch T-Mobile, the preferred iPhone supplier over here, the whole concept of 3G is something of a fiction in all but the densest populated areas and this is in a very tiny very densely populated country.

    Well, we take what we can get, I suppose.

  18. Sheryl Breuker

    I don’t think it’s strictly iphone and AT&T packages. Both Ken and I use Blackberry’s and are on the AT&T 3G service. His curve does not use 3 g but my bold does. We also have my son on our plan, so that makes 3 phones all on the service. Our calls get dropped regularly, yesterday I had to call my son back 3 times because the call dropped. 3G is also not well supported in our area, but we do live in a 3G corridor of sorts.
    I would have loved to taken the poll but am not an iphone user. I really don’t think it’s iphone centric. Good luck and I hope they will quickly do something, but they won’t. They have traditional telecom vision. :(

    • Predicto

      I have to agree – I have a 3g Samsung Blackjack on AT&T and here in South Florida the coverage is spotty at best. It has gotten noticeably worse since the iPhone 3g has saturated their network.

      I’ve also noticed that AT&T seems to prioritize the iPhone traffic (and HSDPA) — I’ve seen my phone side-by-side with an iPhone and watched the iPhone get 3g while I’m stuck in Edge… I also noticed that AT&T disconnects inactive 3g users from the network (pushing them into GSM or Edge) when they stop actively using data – sometimes the only solution is to reconnect to the cellular net. My Novatel HSPDA card (also on AT&T) can connect to 3g even when my Blackjack and nearby iPhones cannot.

      I also carry a Verizon Blackberry Curve (for work) and it runs fast (on EVDO) all the time.

      It’s too bad – because I really want an iPhone; but I can’t handle “more of the same” with the lousy service and will not upgrade until they address this.

    • I completely agree. I’d love to take this poll, but I carry a Nokia E71. It drops calls like a lead balloon in Gig Harbor and the greater Seattle area. I actually experienced zero dropped called when I was in San Francisco in February. When I call AT&T to complain, they say “it’s my phone.” (I have an unbranded Nokia E71)

  19. This is a ridiculous survey/poll. The question where you can give a positive answer is the 1st. All the rest are negative. “What is your primary complaint with the AT&T/iPhone combination?” There should be a “none” option as I have none. “Who do you blame for you bad experience?” answer for me: no, one. my experience has been great .

  20. You’re making this look like everyone has a problem and I can assure that you that hundreds of people that I know and work with in the Tampa area aren’t complaining. I love the iPhone and NEVER lose a call. Your survey is B.S. because it’s twisted to make it appear that everyone has someone to complain about. Why not ask if anyone has a happy experience? Then the statistics might mean something.

      • Actually, no he can’t Om. He’s right, your poll is *completely* biased! With questions like “What is your primary complaint with the AT&T/iPhone combination?”

        You don’t even give an option for “none”.

        For those of us who have no complains for the iPhone, we’re left choosing answers like “Other” or even leaving the whole question blank such as for your loaded question “Who do you blame for your bad experience with AT&T/iPhone Combo?”

        How about “Nobody”?


      • Nicholas

        I’m assuming that you are looking in the comments for additional feedback, and not using the poll for data. M is correct in that the poll is skewed.

        I never drop calls in Chicago, but the data absolutely blows. I like the iPhone and even if we were not developing for it, would not switch, but if the handset were available on Verizon or t-Mobile would switch in a minute. If it cost $200 so what? As the surveys suggest, I use data about 4 times as much as voice.

        No device, even the CrackBerry has made me such a data junkie. I love BlackBerries, but this thing is crazy. Hopefully WiMax will come along and kill of some of these providers. Tis not for a long time though.

      • Nicholas

        I’m assuming that you are looking in the comments for additional feedback, and not using the poll for data. M is correct in that the poll is skewed.

        I never drop calls in Chicago, but the data absolutely blows. I like the iPhone and even if we were not developing for it, would not switch, but if the handset were available on Verizon or t-Mobile would switch in a minute. If it cost $200 so what? As the surveys suggest, I use data about 4 times as much as voice.

        No device, even the CrackBerry has made me such a data junkie. I love BlackBerries, but this thing is crazy. Hopefully WiMax will come along and kill of some of these providers. Tis not for a long time though.

    • Nicholas

      If what you mean by area, includes a region within a large city like Chicago, you are correct. How on god’s earth I cannot access email from the west Loop is absolutely beyond me. We’re developing iPhone apps with embedded content, so I suppose that’s the perfect scenario for pointing out the flaws in services like Kyte! But really, no network services in the third largest city in the country?

      If there were a Verizon iPhone, I would switch in a minute. My problem with that company has always been their phones. Their network was my favorite for voice as well as data. I hope that they are kicking themselves, but given the corporate culture in the US, they probably take an obstinate pride in having dismissed the upstart Apple.

      • From what I’ve read, Verizon did not dismiss Apple. Apple initially was going to do an Iphone for Verizon.. but Verizon and Apple are both control junkies… Verizon wanted to make UI changes as they so love to do, Apple (i.e. Steve Jobs) wanted absolute control over the phone, and neither would compromise. So they didn’t.