iPhone 3G Suffering Connection Glitches

Dennis Faas's picture

iPhone users worldwide are complaining of dropped calls, and it's looking increasingly likely the cause is the phone itself.

The problem appears to be occurring with the "3G connection," the fast-access which allows many of the smartphone features to operate. Because the phones aren't getting a strong enough connection on the 3G networks, they often need to switch to a traditional phone network in mid-call. This doesn't always go smoothly and is sometimes causing temporary disconnections which are enough to terminate the connection.

There doesn't seem to be any strong geographical pattern in the problem, which is happening even in areas with supposedly strong 3G connections. One site's survey found more complaints from the West coast of the US, but that may well be down to people in California being more likely to own the high-tech phone in the first place. (Source: cnet.com)

Apple isn't speaking out publicly, but Business Week says its sources report the problems, which are affecting about 2-3% of all calls, are down to a faulty software on a chip in the handsets. German firm Infineon, which made the chip in question, won't comment on the iPhone situation but says it hasn't experienced similar problems using the chip in other models of cell phone.

There are however a couple of theories about the specific problem.

One says that the Infineon chip simply isn't up to the heavy use needed in an iPhone, and the sheer number of people who own the device has made an underlying problem more visible.

Another school of thought is that Apple made an error setting up the phone such that the automatic cut-off point for signal strength to make a 3G call is actually much higher than the phone really needs. This means the phones are switching networks -- and risking glitches -- unnecessarily. (Source: businessweek.com)

Given the potential publicity disaster this could turn in to, Apple will no doubt be hoping it's the latter explanation -- which could probably be fixed with a software update -- rather than the former, which at worst would require a product recall.

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