Firmware Update To Fix iPhone 3G Reception Problems

by Sachin Balagopalan on August 14, 2008 · 2 comments

Quite a bit of discussion on the blogosphere these past few days on what now appears to be a slew of problems plaguing the iPhone 3G. It seems everyone is talking about it with Business week shedding some more light on the issue. The main complaint seems to be the lack of faster connections available on the 3G network. I can certainly attest to that - I have been telling my friends and colleagues since day one that this thing does not seem any faster than my old iPhone. I live near Boston which supposedly has 3G coverage in most areas and I do see the little 3G icon for the most part but surfing the web does not seem any faster than my 2.5G. The other problem I have is the signal strength when I’m in a 3G coverage area. Just for the heck of it I juxtaposed my 3G and 2.5G and as you can (barely) see in the image above the 2.5G on the right has four and one half solid bars while the 3G has barely three. I haven’t really experienced any dropped calls. The battery life is dreadful when I use the location based apps and services otherwise it does not seem that bad.

The buzz on the blogosphere started with the following comments from a Nomura Securities analyst quoted in GigaOm on August 12 …

… but the issue may be with Infineon’s 3G chip, according to Richard Windsor, an analyst with Nomura Securities. In a research note today, he said: “We believe that these issues are typical of an immature chipset and radio protocol stack where we are almost certain Infineon is the 3G supplier.”

Apparently BW is now reporting that Apple will be issuing a firmware update within the next month to fix these problems and they are also confirming that Infineon, the chip maker along with Apple is to blame - AT&T is off the hook.

As we reported last night, two reliable sources say Apple will issue a software fix that will address the widespread complaints regarding lost calls and inconsistent 3G access with the iPhone 3G. The problem (and it is a real issue, not in these folks’ imagination) relates to code on an Infineon chip inside the device (probably the baseband processor, although Infineon also supplies a power-management chip, a radio transceiver and a GPS chip). There’s no lack of finger-pointing going on behind the scenes as to who is to blame—Infineon, Apple or, in the U.S., AT&T. But two sources—one that thinks Infineon is mostly to blame, and one that thinks Apple is mostly to blame—both say the firmware update should do the trick.

Looks like Apple has a little PR issue to resolve here. They have kept silent so far but I wouldn’t doubt it if they come out with a statement in the next day or so. Folks like myself are pretty annoyed because 3G was the main reason we went out and purchased the device - not to mention the extra $10 a month we have to shell out to AT&T. What I’m really hoping is that they accurately diagnosed the problem and are certain that it can be fixed via a software update. BW does mention that the problem “relates to code” and lets hope that is the case. I can only imagine the chaos if there is actually a problem with the hardware itself that results in a recall. Actually the easiest course of action in that case - for the customer - would be for Apple to hand out new devices and eat the loss. At least they can salvage some goodwill. Anyway all paths seem to be pointing towards a firmware upgrade and it could be released as early as the end of this month.

Fingers crossed!

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rjeka hotels 08.01.10 at 1:27 pm

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