Yes. It is all true. The numerous reports you were able to read on the web:
iPhone 3G signal and reception complaints pour in
iPhone 3G: What’s the frequency?
Some Customers with iPhone 3G Connection Issues
iPhone 3G Reception Problems? You’re Not Alone – Continued
3G iPhone Signal Problems…Post Here!
– or just do a Google search.

I really TRIED to like my white 16GB iPhone 3G, but I just couldn’t. The phone is completely incapable of doing a 3G->2G handover, resulting in 1 to 0 bar coverage and subsequent call drops or ‘No Service’ notifiers. Never in my life had I seen more ‘Call failed’ or ‘No Service’ notifications on any phone (even back in the day on my Ericsson T28 nearly a decade ago).
At home? No possibility to hold or make a call reliably. 0-1 bars reception. No 2G fallback.
At work? No reception.
On the 5 mile stretch to work? Reception, but 2-3 times the call is dropped.
Essentially I had a phone with ‘no bars in more places‘.

Also when the phone was on 3G it barely even lasted till the afternoon, let alone a full day. If there ever was reception, download speeds were barely twice that of EDGE. Most of the time they were pretty much the same.
So I ended up having 3G deactivated the lasts two weeks. Now that I was nearing my 30-day return window, I did the only sensible thing I could do and returned my 3G. This in itself was a horrible multi-hour experience at The Grove Apple store in LA and subsequently the at&t store on Beverly and things are still not worked out right (e.g. they haven’t reverted my 2-year contract extension, even though they should). AT&T says I need proof I returned the phone to Apple. Apple says there is nothing they can do. Their system should automatically do it. So now I’m on a 2-year extension without getting a cheaper or free phone. Just to show my love to ma’bell at&t.
Speculation is running wild on whether it is at&t’s bad network (though other 3G devices allegedly work well), Apple’s secrecy behind developing the phone and thus limited testing or Infineon’s 3G chipset.


Update September 27: With firmware 2.1 a lot of those problems went away. I now have a black 16GB iPhone 3G from work (I have returned my personal one last month) and while I still have reception issues, it’s not ‘as bad’ as it was before. Sadly in my apartment reception still jumps from 0-1 bar of 3G to 5 bars of 2G which still results in call drops from time to time.

One response to “The day I returned my iPhone 3G”

  1. dash raven comments:

    Well, that may be a big issue on the iPhone, but is more a AT&T problema than the software’s. I’m in Portugal, and altought I don’t own an iPhone, i woprk in a service provider and the report’s that the 3G handover, or cell signals are failing is practically null…

    But each network has it’s own infrastructure, and because 3G in US is new, that might also be the problem…

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