Apple: iPhone update improves 3G; Users disagree

'I almost threw it out the car window,' says one frustrated user.

Apple maintained Wednesday that its latest iPhone software update improves connections to 3G networks, but users continued to say otherwise.

When Apple released iPhone 2.0.2 on Monday, it described the contents as simply "bug fixes." Wednesday, however, a company spokeswoman offered slightly more when asked for additional information.

"The iPhone 2.0.2 software update improves communication with 3G networks," said Apple's Jennifer Bowcock. She declined to answer further questions about what specific issues had been addressed by the update.

As of Monday, however, most users who posted messages to Apple's support forum claimed that the update had done nothing for them.

"Experiencing exact same behavior: super slow 3G speed," said a user tagged as "minimal design" on one iPhone support thread. "The kicker is, it does show 3 bars of 3G instead of 1 with 2.0.1 so it looks like they just changed the way the bars LOOK with this update. Now, that's useful..."

"All these updates [and] no results," said someone identified as Judge Kalfas on a different, much longer thread. "My new iPhone 3G, I almost threw it out my car window today it dropped 12 calls within 4 hours in downtown Houston. That is crazy."

"I live in the centre of the UK's 2nd largest city, and my 3G reception is intermittent between 5 bars and zero, therefore the connection keeps getting stuck," reported "andyjjj" on the same thread. "And this is AFTER upgrading to 2.0.2. Terrible."

A few users tried to parse Bowcock's statement, and in so doing, sounded like they were willing to cut Apple some slack. "Wow, an acknowledgement by Apple of the 3G defect with some of the iPhone 3Gs [well, kind of, sort of, maybe a little bit, if you read between the lines]," said "HeloCaptain."

"I suppose that adding in some modicum of connectivity for the new countries scheduled for iPhone release on Friday could be construed as 'improved communication with 3G networks," said "jabecker" on the forum. "It's just not our networks."

Users started complaining about 3G network problems within days of the iPhone's July 11 debut. Since then, several thousand messages have been posted to Apple's support forum, detailing difficulties making calls from areas supposedly covered by a 3G network, and griping about weak signals and slower-than-promised data download speeds.

Although Apple has not publicly responded to users' complaints and has limited its official comment on the subject to Bowcock's statement, some sources have claimed that the company's next iPhone update, dubbed 2.1 and reportedly slated for release next month, will provide more 3G fixes.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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