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Two iPhone 3G Gripes: Inert Internet Access and a Buggy Browser

Is the iPhone 3G Apple loaned for last month's review somehow going bad?

I think I have to ask that after seeing it pick up a couple of disturbing habits over this week:

1) Internet access over AT&T Wireless's 3G network--even when the phone's screen shows four or more bars of signal strength--can become horrifyingly slow, braking to a pace pokier than even dial-up Internet access. Yesterday evening at around 6, this phone took between two to three minutes to load sites that whisked onto its screen in about a minute when I timed the iPhone 3G with a stopwatch last month. At its worst, it spent four minutes trying to choke down DCist's home page before I gave up on the entire exercise.

2) Its Safari browser has started crashing and resetting itself. All. The. Time. And the frequency of these reboots--in which the browser vanishes, the display goes black for a moment before the iPhone's home screen reappears, and I then have to relaunch Safari and wait for it to re-download the pages I had open--has been increasing. This morning, that frequency appears to be nearing 100 percent. Safari has crashed before it could finish loading most of the sites I've tried (for instance, PriceGrabber and Yelp); when it has succeeded in displaying one (e.g., Kayak), it has crashed within minutes. I've tried all the usual sick-browser remedies: clearing its cache, clearing its history and finally clearing its cookies file. Nothing seems to work.

I know I'm not the only person in this pickle. A couple of my coworkers have started griping about the performance of their iPhones, as have tech reporters elsewhere--see, for example, eWeek writer Joe Wilcox's rant. Help me out here: If you've got an iPhone 3G, have you been seeing any of these issues? If so, have you found any fixes for them?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 15, 2008; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets , Gripes  
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Comments

Huh... Why not buy a similar phone that works - INSTINCT anyone?

Posted by: Instinct | August 15, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I have seen the browser crashes in my Gen 1 iPhone with the 2.0 software. I have another co-worker with a Gen 1 that's having awful problems with his phone getting into a hung state and Apple's already replaced his phone once.

Posted by: Bubba | August 15, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I've had the 3G slowdowns and safari crashes (happens more at work in tenley than at home in Courthouse). Wifi seems more stable so I try to stick to that. I haven't had any dropped calls but I don't make that many. I did have the problem where the caller couldn't hear me once. I've found the battery life is better now after a few full cycles.

I'm experiencing the keyboard lag as I type this.

Posted by: Jim Mc | August 15, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I have had the same type problem. My iphone has been rebooting and freezing more now. I have the old phone without the 3G but i have uupgraded to the new software/firmware. I am getting sick of it and may do another phone. I would not recommend anyone to buy it for $300 bucks..just not worth it. Apple need to resolve these problems quickly.

Posted by: Tim | August 15, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed the safari glitches as well, and they have grown in frequency over the last two weeks.

I've also noticed a major problem with the 3G - radio stations I could easily stream while on the way to work a few weeks ago now cut out constantly and do not restart.

I can't tell if this is an apple problem, or an at&t problem, probably both, but they need to fix it quickly. It's frustrating.

Posted by: CG | August 15, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Apple acknowledges the issue with 3G currently and believes it's linked to the infineon 3G chipset installed in the 3G iPhone. I think a fix is coming out later this month in a firmware update.

Currently disabling the 3G antenna will improve the response time when connecting to a remote server, but the overall data downstream rate will not be as fast with 3G. But it's better to get data than no data at all.

Posted by: Brian | August 15, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Brian:

I haven't seen Apple acknowledge this problem directly, all I've seen is an unnamed source in Business Week.

Have they issued a release on this problem? If so, could you point me to it? Thanks.

Posted by: CG | August 15, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I can not speak on the iphone b/c I still use a Razor as my primary phone with ATT. But I can tell you this, I think the call failed status is a network problem.

I can not even use my cell phone in my house since the signal strength is so low.

It was not always like this and in my opinion started soon after ATT formaly took over Cingular Wireless, who was my original wireless provider...

Just my 2 cents...

Posted by: Chad Campbell | August 15, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I haven't had decent reception in my house since I got the Iphone 3G about a month ago. I was a Verizon customer, but reception at work was poor, so I tested an AT&T phone before ordering the Iphone. The test phone worked fine at home and at work. The Iphone doesn't get as good reception as the other AT&T phone I tested. Another person who uses AT&T had far better reception in my house with their phone than I had. We put both phones side by side in the exact same places in my house in order to test them. I installed a ZBOOST dual band cellular repeater in my house hoping that it would overcome the reception problem, and got little improvement. Two days ago, Apple replaced my Iphone after AT&T and Apple both told me that the Iphone should have as good reception as any other AT&T phone. The new phone was as bad as the old one. I wouldn't recommend the Iphone to anyone interested in using it as a phone.

Posted by: Jack | August 15, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I have not had major Safari problems although I've found a couple of sites that cause it to crash pretty quickly. Not good.

There have been multiple rumors posted about defective chips causing the 3G glitches. But I also think it may have something to do with the 1 million+ new iPhones that have just flooded the market. Areas such as NYC and DC that have more iPhone users (and thus more AT&T 3G subscribers) seem to be having the most problems. I live in DC (where there is supposedly solid 3G coverage) but I barely get an EDGE signal. I have called and written AT&T about this, but so far I have only received stock answers about it (e.g., "make sure your SIM card is inserted properly"). Very frustrating.

If there problems with the hardware itself, I hope that it is fixable with firmware, or else there are going to be A LOT of angry Apple customers out there!

Posted by: tj | August 15, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I've had the iPhone for a week and now have the same gripes as everyone here.

--The phone signal strength has been pitiable. I was an existing AT&T customer and had no problems with my Motorola.

--3G is nothing to write home about. I live in NYC, not some remote farm in S.D.

--The device is starting freeze for a few seconds, for instance when it's loading contact list.

--Both Safari and iCal have quit unexpectedly.

--For $100 a month it shouldn't take so long to download emails or load Web pages.

Ultimately, I love this device, I just wish it worked better or, failing that, cost me less. It talks a big talk, so it should walk a bigger walk.

Posted by: Sheila | August 15, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Tj makes sense. Network problems are probably worst for those of us in areas where iPhones are flooding the market.

Posted by: Sheila | August 15, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I have the original model with the latest software update. I've experienced the crashing Safari issue as well. I'm also annoyed by the LONG delays when trying to pull up contact info from my address book (didn't seem to be so long before the July software update). One other issue is the inability to send emails from the iphone using a MobileMe alias. Mail and the MobileMe website allow this function but the iphone doesn't. ANNOYING!

Posted by: JL | August 15, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Apple may just be finding out that tremendous hype may not always be a good thing, particularly when your ability to execute on lofty expectations hinge on another party as well.

Posted by: Bruno | August 15, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I have had mine since it came out. Safari crashes on me regularly, particularly on certain websites that are now avoided. I also have a problem with the phone occasionally dropping calls, which rarely happened when I had Verizon here in DC. I turned off 3G and that seems to help, leading me to believe it definitely is the 3G chip causing problems. When it is working, the phone is great. When it is not, I get incredibly frustrated.

Posted by: LuvsApple | August 15, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I have all the problems you state in this article... I hope Apple and/or AT&T can fix the problems as soon as possible... I am regretful for having one 3G iPhone...

Posted by: Ian | August 15, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Rob,
are you kidding? Why don't you read the ongoing stories about this on CNET?

Posted by: Tom | August 15, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Other than slow network periods, the only gripe I've got with my new iP3G is that my installed applications just stop working. I have to delete and reinstall them. This has happened a few times and it's getting annoying. Granted, these are free apps like Facebook and Urbanspoon so it's not costing me anything except time.

But I must have my PhoneSaber ready at all times! It's a jungle out there...

Posted by: tommyspoon | August 15, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I've had Safari crashes, crappy 3G service, and a slowdown of the virtual keyboard response. I've also been very annoyed by the apparent freeze up of the unit while loading Safari pages, sometimes for a couple of seconds, sometimes for a lot longer.

It is a buggy, buggy device that I've owned for 3 weeks and I'm not a happy camper. I have to say this is the worst piece of apple h/w I've had since my powerbook 5300 (I think that was its name). This is not good.

Posted by: Count me in as a witness | August 15, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

BLASPHEMY! IPHONE IS PERFECT, UNCLE STEVE SAYS SO!! LIERS!!

Back to reality, according to CNET, many Europeans users have been experiencing the same problems, so the slow or intermittant 3G may not be AT&T's fault.

Posted by: Chris | August 15, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Same two problems - exactly as you describe. also, the other one someone mentioned - screen freezes for up to 10 seconds in various applications. finally, sometimes the keyboard is responding very slowly when i'm typing. thanks

Posted by: dan | August 15, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I've had my 3G for a couple of week. Have not had problems with Safari, so far. 3G reception is definitely shaky depending on what part of the city (DC) you're in. And there are certainly hiccups when the signal switches from 3G to Edge or vice versa.

I'm generally impressed with AT&T coverage. Have had Sprint and Verizon, and AT&T is the only reliable service I've been able to use in my Woodley Park condo and at work in Mt. Pleasant.

I have noticed one strange quirk. I set the iPhone next to my keyboard at work and the speakers on my computer (a PC, a not Mac) pick up interference from it. What's even stranger, the interference effects my mouse. The cursor will drift up the screen, all by itself. I swear I'm not making this up. The speakers will crackle, the cursor moves by itself and next thing I know I have a text message on the iPhone. Has anyone else encountered this phenomenon?

Overall, I'm fairly pleased with the iPhone. I guess I'll have to stop calling it my Jesus Phone because it's just not perfect. Yet.

Posted by: Kimosabe | August 15, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I think it may be a problem with both atnt and apple. I'm still using the original iPhone and I've noticed a significant decline in service. Places I used to get 5 bars now get none, a large increase in dropped calls, problems with safari, as well as other random service related issues.

Posted by: josh | August 15, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Do you people with problems have lots of apps on your iphone???

Posted by: Sam Dachs | August 15, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Have just started noticing the problems in the last few days. Had problems with all the apllications either crashing)
I've removed alot of the apps (had 3 screens worth) I've installed as the problem appeared to get much worse after two of the apps updated and thereafter would crash on startup.
I've just reinstalled the iPhone software through Itunes and its working better now (so far no crashes in the last hour, including a 15 minute Edge VPN session with WinAdmin, yes, I'm patient). 16gb w/ 14 misc apps

Posted by: Fred | August 15, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Also, the GPS repeatedly tells me I am at the Six Flags in Atlanta when I am in DC. This is particularly annoying because the applications and functions derivative of the GPS locator were a huge selling point for me to get the iPhone.

Posted by: Adrian | August 15, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I haven't had either of these problems. Safari has been stable for the most part, and I have been reasonably pleased with the signal coverage. The clarity of the calls over 3G is really good.

I've had this phone on two road trips covering several states, so I've used the phone on both EDGE and 3G. Overall, I've been very pleased.

I am sure that software updates will help. The 2.01 update fixed the delays I saw when going to the contact list. A big update is coming in September.

Posted by: Thor | August 15, 2008 9:06 PM | Report abuse

The easier solution is the difference between CDMA3X and WCDMA. When will Apple wise up and create an iPhone for a network truly able to handle it? In the alternative, when will LG or one of the other Korean manufacturers come out with a phone that can rival the iPhone for the CDMA3X network (Verizon)?

Simply stated, WCDMA is not yet ready for prime time.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I've been keeping a log of all my issues since purchase. I feel your pain. I just hope the 2.1 fix resolves some of these problems.

http://tinyurl.com/5ed69b

Posted by: David | August 15, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

After reading these accounts of problems with iPhones, I could not help but see similarties to my 3G capable Sprint Sanyo SCP-8400. If there are any common part between the iPhone and the Sanyo SCP-8400, then we may have a clue to where the flaw is coming form.

I've had these _same_ kind of problem with my Sanyo SCP 8400. The phone can have horribly slow accesses at times and if I'm in an area with weaker 3G reception, the phone will crash and reboot.

I've found that when this happens, the only thing that gets it out of its funk is to power-off the phone for the Sprint suggested 45 seconds. Apparently, that resets something in either the phone or the Sprint network.

Perhaps powering-off the iPhone for a minute or two will allow the phone or the AT&T network to get it's act back together.

Posted by: Jeff G. | August 17, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

same issues here. Managed to view 3 webpages in 45 mins. When I first got it it was much faster

Posted by: bigmac | August 18, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Ah,...the switch off for 45 seconds seems to reset something. Not sure how often I will have to do this in a day though. Not good.

Posted by: BD in NYC | August 18, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Iphone 3G sucks!!! I have the exact same problems!! Sometimes these websites such as meebo and ebuddy, any website, dont show up at all and say the server stopped responding, when i try the website on my laptop it appears faster than the 3g and im running a 1.4 mb connection.. makes u wonder if 3g is just a name they gave or a service they truly provide.

Posted by: Raja | August 18, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

just went to my AT&T store. There said the network is oversold and it will be at least 6 months until it improves.

Posted by: Bigmac | August 18, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Folks its AT&T try a data connect card in Napa works on weekends but not on week days. Problem no network as in AT&T does not have enough bandwidth. Blame the real problem [AT&T] not the iPhone

Posted by: Todi | August 20, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I have an iPhone 3G here in Austin, TX and it has worked flawlessly. Absolutely no problems with speed, signal strength or lockups.

Posted by: Dick | August 20, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

No problems like that with mine. Works like a charm. Also, the latest upgrade helps.

Posted by: John | August 20, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I am having the same problems as mentioned here slow (really slow) 3 G loading Internet pages and crashes. Very annoying. It seems to be only in the last 10 days or so.

Posted by: Dean | August 20, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I am having the same problems as mentioned here slow (really slow) 3 G loading Internet pages and crashes. Very annoying. It seems to be only in the last 10 days or so. I am in NYC

Posted by: Dean | August 20, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Before I updated my iphone 3g firmware, I had no problems or complaints. Since the update my safari has crashed almost everytime I try to use it, with the frequency of the crashes increasing with time.

My Samsung blackjack never had problems with IE crashing.

I'm a mac user at heart, but I am starting to miss my windows mobile phone :(

Posted by: Kristina | August 20, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

To solve all your problems get the Instinct by Samsung the screen resolution may not be a sharp but you gey more features for less

Posted by: Witness | August 21, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I have the 1st generation iPhone with the firmware upgrades. There have been a few times when the phone has been sluggish and freezes. Hard reboot required to correct. It seems the 2nd generation iPhone may have been pushed out into the market a bit prematurely. It should have undergone lengthy testing and in turn would have avoided the nonsense we are currently experiencing. It looks bad for Apple and AT&T. Someone needs to swallow their pride and admit they messed up and make good on all the devices sold to date. And please Apple, no more of this releasing a device that adds a couple new features, but leaves a host of other features waiting in the wings. Prove to us you are the innovator you claim to be! Not just another company trying to nickle and dime us to death with calculated incremental advancements. Listen to the consumer and deliver the product, fully tested! I love the idea behind the iPhone, now just make it right for all of us that trusted you!!

Posted by: Micheal | August 21, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Before I begin with the problems, I have to say that I love my iPhone. BUT...I was recently in Santa Fe for a few days, and in most locations I couldn't get ANY phone signal. Yup, that very same AT&T which brags about best signal strength in the most places left me almost entirely high and dry. GHASTLY!

Then there are the dropped calls...a problem I never had with Verizon.

As for the rest, I tried to send a very brief email (two sentences) yesterday while I was at the San Jose airport. After an hour, it was still "sending." I landed in S. Cal., turned on the iPhone, and it took nearly another hour for the email to finally send. ARGH!!!

And load times for web pages are so slow (except for wireless, which is great) as to render them pretty useless.

Why do I still love the thing? Because when it works, it's wondrous...perfect for business and fun for personal.

But Apple, you have GOT to fix these problems!

Posted by: Aviva | August 22, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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