Six common complaints about Apple's iPhone 3G

Dropped calls, slow data and MobileMe follies

Six common complaints about Apple's iPhone 3G, from dropped calls to slow data and MobileMe follies.

The iPhone's 3G incarnation generated lots of hype at its launch, but it's quickly gaining a reputation for having slow data speeds and inconsistent voice service. Indeed, the iPhone 3G has been such a disappointment to a couple of users that they've even sued (one sued the company for allegedly producing misleading advertisements that promised data speeds at twice the rate of the original iPhone). 

Here, we examine the six most common gripes that users have had about the iPhone 3G, from dropped calls to problems with mobile iTunes to lack of enterprise features. (If you'd rather view this story as a slide show, click here.)

Slow data speeds

Admittedly it's silly to sue Apple over slow iPhone 3G data speeds, but this has been one of the most common complaints about the device since its release earlier this summer. 

A recent survey  conducted by Wired Magazine has found that the speed of the iPhone 3G varies significantly from carrier to carrier, and that devices' slow data speeds in some areas may have much more to do with the quality of the 3G network they're running on than with the devices themselves. 

T-Mobile, which offers the iPhone 3G in Germany, offered the fastest average data speeds at 1,822Kbps, while iPhone 3G users in Australia experienced the slowest speeds at 759Kbps.

Dropped calls

For a company that prides itself first and foremost as a voice carrier, AT&T can't be happy to hear reports of dropped calls on the iPhone 3G. 

Network World's own Jason Meserve has said that he initially experienced voice call problems with his iPhone, because the device frequently would drop his call after a couple of rings, even in zones where the device said it had solid coverage. He remedied this problem, however, by downloading the 2.02 firmware update designed to eliminate the call-dropping problems.

Weak indoor signal quality

Even if users' calls aren't being dropped, many are still complaining about weak indoor signal power, which they say is negatively affecting their overall call quality. While no one from Apple or AT&T officially has placed the blame for poor signal strength on anyone, there have been grumblings that a faulty chipset supplied by mobile chip maker Infineon Technologies may be the primary culprit. 

Independently, Wall Street analyst Richard Windsor of Nomura Securities also tagged the Infineon chipset as a potential cause of poor signal quality and said the device's problems were related primarily to "an immature chipset and radio protocol stack."

iTunes konks out your service

According to Microsoft Subnet writer Mitchell Ashley, the iPhone 3G has experienced many activation problems because iTunes' activation and download servers have been "woefully inadequate" to handle all the increased data demand caused by the advent of the iPhone 3G and by the AppStore, the addition to the iTunes software that sells mobile Web applications. Other reports have said that the mobile iTunes store has actually temporarily disabled the devices, leaving users only with the ability to make emergency phone calls.

The iPhone 3G is still a "walled garden"

Although the iPhone AppStore has generated some considerable buzz for its diverse selection of third-party iPhone applications, some open-source advocates are still dissatisfied that they cannot download any application they want onto their iPhone 3G. Because Apple ultimately controls which applications will be sold to users over the AppStore, reviewers such as Engadget have said the device is a new, though admittedly better, version of the "walled garden" devices that carriers have been selling for years. Network World blogger Craig Mathias, however, thinks that this walled garden approach has some advantages as well as setbacks, as many enterprise users want a device that will be functional and that will offer predictable service more than they want a device with a completely open approach to mobile applications.

MobileMe fails to impress

Oh boy, where to begin with this one?

MobileMe was originally unveiled in June as an upgrade to Apple's online .Mac services, and it offers as much as 20GB of storage for mobile push e-mail, calendars and contacts, and costs $99 per year. Since its launch, however, the in-the-cloud service has been besieged by setbacks. Last month, Apple acknowledged that MobileMe users were experiencing difficulties getting their e-mail services to directly sync up on both Macs and PCs without delay. A little later in the month, MobileMe experienced service outages that left approximately 1% of MobileMe users without access to e-mail on both their iPhones and their Mac or PC mail clients. And then there were the phishing attacks that occurred while Apple was transitioning from its .Mac to MobileMe services…

What are your big gripes about the iPhone 3G? Let us know in the comments field below.

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