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Apple to fix iPhone 3G reception issues via software?

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008
News Categories: iPhone

Apple is planning on issuing a fix for current iPhone 3G reception problems through a software update rather than a physical recall, according to a BusinessWeek report. Citing two anonymous but “well-placed” sources, the article claims the problems are being caused by glitches related to a communications chip made by Infineon, corroborating an earlier statement from Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. One BusinessWeek source suggests that the glitches are solely caused by the Infineon chip, which the article notes is fairly new and is yet untested in high volumes. Another source claims those problems may be also be linked to overly-agressive 3G bandwidth demands, saying that Apple programmed the Infineon chip to demand a more powerful 3G signal than the iPhone really requires, causing the phone to decide that there is insufficient power available, and switch to the slower (EDGE) network. According to the report, the problem appears to be increased in areas where there are more active 3G devices than AT&T and Apple had planned for. Neither Apple nor Infineon has yet made a statement regarding reception issues with the iPhone 3G.

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Comments

1

“Cooberating”?

Posted by orgel in Falls Church, VA on August 14, 2008 at 8:55 AM (PDT)

2

But, but, but…according to Apple and AT&T;there is no problem to fix.  I mean, they’ve sold millions of these things.  Just LOOK at that big pile of cash they’re sitting on while they refuse to comment or acknowledge the situation.

Posted by Dave G on August 14, 2008 at 9:01 AM (PDT)

3

Ha ha! “cooberating”, that’s hilarious!  You meant corroborating, right?

Posted by Matt M on August 14, 2008 at 9:24 AM (PDT)

4

Indeed, I did mean “corroborating.” Thanks for the head’s up.

Posted by Charles Starrett on August 14, 2008 at 9:46 AM (PDT)

5

I’m not going to settle for a band-aid fix. I want a hardware meant to work as it should be..I’m returning my 3G and wait until they come out with a new chip.

Posted by Axel Guzman on August 14, 2008 at 12:52 PM (PDT)

6

Whats “band-aid” about it - if the software fix means the 3G works reliably, then whats the problem?  If it then works as its meant to why complain….if it is still flaky, then fair enough.

Posted by Kevin White on August 15, 2008 at 5:34 AM (PDT)

7

Axel,

You are assuming the analyst is right in their assessment.  If as the chip maker is saying, other phones using the same chip would be exhibiting the same behavior.

Apple will never admit the problem because some lawyer will file a class action suit, if not done already.

Lets be happy a fix is on the way.

Posted by youngjm on August 15, 2008 at 6:27 AM (PDT)

8

Axel,

The article contains this statement: “Faulty software on the chip causes problems when the iPhone needs to switch from wireless networks that allow for faster Web downloads to slower ones, the people say.” It would thus seem that the chip, at least physically, is not defective, and that a software update to the iPhone would in fact be a pragmatic and appropriate solution.

This should indeed be a benefit for all iPhone users.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on August 15, 2008 at 7:49 AM (PDT)

9

Nothing but problems with iPhone 3G. The worst experience I have ever had with any device. I have had my iPhone 3G replaced twice, so I have had three. I have yet another appointment at the Apple Store today.

All of them have had 3G reception problems, quitting apps, crashing problems, and have needed to be restored. Twice now on two different units the iPod app on the iPhone 3G will say there is no content, when the iPhone 3G is half full of purchased music, videos, audiobooks and podcasts! The iPhone and iTunes software is so buggy.

I am a bit disgusted as you might tell. I can not recommend iPhone 3G to anyone. The Apple Store Genius Bar just hands you a new phone when you bring it in, no troubleshooting at all anymore. They have no fix until Apple admits there is a problem and releases something which may be a band-aid on cancer!

Posted by Stephen on August 15, 2008 at 9:35 AM (PDT)

10

Here is the iPhone log I am keeping:

iPhone Units
iPhone 3G was purchased on June 12, 2008
  Crashed constantly with apps quitting all the time, 3G issues - 22 restores needed.
  Came with 2.0 software and later I updated it to 2.0.1 when it came out.

First iPhone 3G replacement - August 1, 2008
  Crashed constantly with apps quitting all the time, 3G issues, content disappeared from   iPod app - 10 restores needed.
  Received it from Tices Apple Store with 2.0.1 - new unit from new box.

Second iPhone 3G replacement - August 14, 2008
  Apps quitting, 3G issues, content disappeared from iPod app - 1 restore needed.
  Received it from GSP Apple Store with 2.0 and I updated it to 2.0.1 on first sync - was a   replacement service part.


Crashing and Quits
Apps bought from App Store quit constantly. Many times when one app quits, then none of the others will launch anymore. Does not seem to matter which app or how many I have installed. Deleting and re-installing the apps does not help. Only a total restore and syncing the apps get them to run again. Until the next time they quit.

Sometimes an app will quit, killing the iPhone, leaving me with a white Apple logo. Once this happens nothing but a total restore will help. Holding down the Home key, restarting the iPhone or hard reset of the iPhone does not allow the iPhone to boot normally. Of course I am then left without even a phone.

Sometimes deleting or installing apps directly on the iPhone will crash it leaving you with white Apple logo that only a total restore will fix. I no longer install or update directly on the iPhone.

Running the iPhone without any apps from the App Store. iPhone still experienced problems with the Mail, Settings, Contacts, and Safari quitting. Lagging keyboard, slow scrolling, and slow Contacts (I have about 300) still present.

I have had to restore my first iPhone 3G about 22 times and I have restored this one about 9 times already. Most every time the iPhone has crashed I have lost the pictures I took and had to restore it as a new iPhone as iTunes tells me my backups are corrupted.

I have restored this using three different Intel Mac running Leopard 10.5.4 and iTunes 7.7.1, did not matter. I even went as far as uninstalling iTunes, setting up a new account and reinstalling iTunes, re-downloaded the iPhone firmware and the apps I bought, did not matter, still crashed and apps quit within a day.

The longest the iPhone has ever worked without needing a restore is 3 days. Usually I get a day, maybe two. I have had it crash twice in the same day.

3G Reception Problems
iPhone constantly switches between 3G and EDGE even in a strong 3G area like North Jersey or NYC. This results in dropped, garbled calls and slow Internet. Sometimes I must restart the iPhone to let see the 3G network.

iPhone iPod Problem
After syncing the iPhone and adding about 300 purchased music and video tracks, a few audiobooks and some podcasts the iPhone says there is no music on it when I launch the iPod app. Yet if you connect it to iTunes you can see the content and under Settings -> General -> About on the iPhone it shows the that the iPhone is almost half full.

This happened on first and second replacement iPhones that was synced with a different Mac. Both times I has previously played them and after the apps started quitting, they were no longer seen by the iPhone 3G.

iTunes 7.7.1 Problems
It takes forever to backup the iPhone, only to find out that the backups are useless as iTunes reports they are corrupted when trying to restore the iPhone.

iTunes has NO idea when an app has an update available. It reports updates when none are needed, it sometimes reports there are no updates when there are. Sometimes it wants to install 6 or 7 copies of the same app when it reports an update.

iTunes has a serious bug in that it does not delete or overwrite old app files it just re-creates them! Looking in the iTunes -> Mobile Application folder I found many versions of the same app, loading up my Macs hard drive with incremented numbers. This is true on three different Macs I have tried to sync with. Itunes does not overwrite or delete old version of the apps. At one point I had over 1 GB of files when it probably should have been one third of that.

If the iPhone is syncing with iTunes and a phone call or SMS message comes in, the iPhone sometimes either stops syncing or crashes so bad that it needs a restore.

I have had to change my iTunes Store password over 20 times this month as iTunes or the iPhone will tell me my password is no good. I then reset it and a few days later it says it is no good again.

MobileMe Problems
Can not sync subscribed calendars. Mail outages.

Sometimes Mail app will report I have emails, but when I open the Mail app I have to manually hit the refresh button to see any of them.

Posted by digiprod on August 15, 2008 at 9:37 AM (PDT)

11

Your not alone Digiprod. While I have not returned my iphone I have apps quit and will not open again at the same time my 10 plus gigs of music no longer show up on the phone when I sync the iphone it will show I still have music. I have to do a total restore every time to fix this issue. I bought my Iphone 3g the day they came out. I have had to do this type of restore 13 times since I got it. To me it’s allmost like the iphone tries to write to a part of the memory that is bad and corrupts everything.

Shameless1

Posted by Shameless1 on August 15, 2008 at 1:33 PM (PDT)

12

I’ve had zero problems with 3G reception, cracks in the case or dropped calls. I’ve never lost data or had to do a restore. And I have a ton of apps and most of the 16gb is full. Apps very occasionally will quit, but that’s a software OS bug and returning it 10 times isn’t going to sudden;y make it better. That’s been my experience.

Posted by Dale Reeck on August 15, 2008 at 9:23 PM (PDT)

13

I’ve had very few problems at all when it comes to my iPhone’s reliability.  In the past few weeks, I think I can only remember 2 or 3 dropped calls that I could still care to remember.  That was no worse than my old Moto Razr and t-Mobile service.  Perhaps it’s true that some people are having lots of dropping problems, but it certainly is not everyone.  Maybe it’s also related to geographic service area.  I like in a fairly affluent suburb, in an area that is not really too crowded, but not too far from the city either.  I hope the firmware fix does help the others.

Posted by Martendale on August 16, 2008 at 5:32 PM (PDT)

14

someone,get digiprod a life there are much better things in life..

Posted by jacko on August 18, 2008 at 6:41 AM (PDT)

15

Oh man, where does one start with digiprod and, to a lesser extent, Steven?
....

1. First things first… Crashing apps will not be fixed by replacing your device over and over. Crashing apps are from app code bugs and are wanting updates. IMO, Apple should not replace an iPhone for crashing apps, but they probably wanna get you outta their hair.

2. 3g can admittedly be a problem if you aren’t in a strong AT&T;3g net area. The solution to this will be device improvments (hopefully via code updates) and AT&T;‘s network expansion. Again, I think replacing the device is mostly a fool’s errand, since this will not fix most of these issues. The patience of Job, or Jobs wink, may be required here… If you’re in a strong 3g coverage area, then you may well be happier than a pig in !#&**&%+... Otherwise, you may want to turn off 3g when in a spotty area, at least until Apple improves the 3g/EDGE fallback code.

3. Most important tip for the iPhone is, restart periodically. If you can do it once a day or so, that’ll likely make you a much happier camper. And if you load up your iPhone with immature apps (and fill memory up), you’re gonna have stability issues.

4. How iTunes is handling app updates is (I agree) screwy ay best. It admittedly doesn’t do housekeeping, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s to allow drop back to a previous version, but right now it’s suboptimal at best. Also, I agree that there’s something wrong with mixing app updates directly from iPhone to app store -AND- iTunes direct. I suggest that, for the time being, you stick with iTunes sync’d apps only… And, I have seen the weirdness with the iTunes “check for updates” function, which is obviously a bug… Overall, I do think Apple is fast approaching the point where iTunes will need a major remake, since it’s getting more and more complicated with features and functions.

5. As far as the iTunes content issue (disappearing act), recursive restores corrupted backups, musical iTunes passwords, I don’t have a clue. I’ve not seen this, period. You might want to consider file maint of the sync host, but that’s only a guess in the absence of detailed information. iTunes device backups *are* inordinately slow.

6. MobileMe does not support subscribed calendars, and we know its launch was fraught with problems. Moreoever, although I haven’t had nearly the issues that many complain about, it’s working well for me now (knock on wood). Push was somewhat unreliable early-on, but is steadily improving.

AFAIK, I’ve not seen any of the other claimed issues… All I can say is, if you want to make something look hopeless, then throw as much junk into the pile as possible, and very soon you’ll be shaking your head… This is how I felt when I read digiprod’s posting… If you sincerely want to solve problems, then look at them objectively and independently. ...And don’t forget to include your own practices in the mix, since many of these woes may well be exacerbated by bad user habits, non-best practices and even impatience.

In my experience, iPhone 3g works waaay better than these few postings would have you believe. If it didn’t, then Apple would never have such a booming iPhone business on their hands.

FWIW…

Posted by chashulme in Southern California on August 18, 2008 at 12:03 PM (PDT)

16

so far I had no problems with the 1st gen. and the 2nd. gen iPhone. I can say that the APPLE support was so nice and replaced my 1st. gen iPhone because i dropped it after just 2 weeks and when i called them i was honest. they replaced it because i was honest and i had the iPhone just 1 week.

Now I did send my 2nd. gen iPhone back for repair because a slight light came out between the chrome frame and the glass at night when i use it and the battery is getting hot.

You know,..... People are jsut waiting for any negative press or msg about the iPhone. I’ve experienced it today at work. Our new tech praised a news msg about the bad infinity chips in the iPhone. aint this a shame that people just sit there and wait about a bad news msg ???!!!???

Funny, he seen me using my 2nd. Gen iPhone and I showed him how i remote in my server at home and all this AND I NEVER LET HIM TOUCH IT ... lol. He’s a geek and would love to touch the iPhone but.. ONLY THE ONES WHO HONOR IT wink u know…

by the way he dragged about a google phone that will come out and it supposed to be a iPhone killer… lol,.. i brush my shoulders off ...lol ..

Posted by dennis on August 18, 2008 at 8:03 PM (PDT)

17

My iPhone 3G have reception issues and it keeps getting sluggish after some use. A daily reboot is a good tip, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.

Compared to other devices, the reception on the iPhone is not as good. Where I work, I run around in several buildings a lot, and I have now gone back to the device I used prior to the iPhone due to issues with reception.

I don’t think it’s fair to blame crashing applications on Apple (alone). Apps have bugs and we just have to live with it. If it were Apple themselves that made all of the apps, I could see there was a problem.

My iPhone DO have a malfunctioning pixel, though, and I am going to try and get it replaced, as it is annoying the hell out of me.

Posted by Jay on August 19, 2008 at 1:50 AM (PDT)

18

...I forgot to add; The battery life is appaling. I understand that the big display use a lot of power, but it’s not even lasting 1 day and not even close to 24h.

Posted by Jay on August 19, 2008 at 1:52 AM (PDT)

19

I was trying to restore my iphone to fix some problems becouse it was not syncing, after installing the softwares it told me it could not connect to itunes store becouse the sim card was not surpoted, how can one help me about that????

Posted by David Agaba David on December 10, 2010 at 8:45 AM (PDT)

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