Spotty wireless broadband connectivity for some of Apple Inc.'s new iPhones most likely results from a hardware problem introduced during mass production, a Swedish technical magazine reported Wednesday.
Ny Teknik, Sweden's foremost engineering weekly, obtained a report on tests conducted by unnamed experts that showed some handsets' sensitivity to third-generation network signals is well below the level specified in the 3G standard.
So-called 3G networks offer the promise of faster Web surfing on cell phone browsers, and make bandwidth-hogging applications like video calling feasible. Phones that access 3G networks must meet certain engineering and technical specifications, which are set and maintained by the International Telecommunication Union, a Geneva-based organization.
The report said the most likely cause of the 3G problems is defective adjustments between the antenna and an amplifier that captures very weak signals from the antenna. This could lead to poor 3G connectivity and slower data speeds.
The iPhone 3G, which went on sale July 11 in the United States and 21 other countries, was meant to offer faster Web browsing than the year-old original model.
Since the launch of the next-generation iPhone, Apple's message boards have been flooded with complaints of dropped calls and poor 3G connectivity indicated by few or no "bars" on the phone's display.
Some users said they performed side-by-side tests and found that the iPhone had connectivity problems in locations where 3G phones from other manufacturers did not. The reports were made by users who said they lived in the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain and other countries.
Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris declined to comment on whether the problem lies in the iPhone's hardware or software, or with the various carriers' 3G networks.
AT&T: ‘iPhone is performing just great’
In the United States, AT&T Inc. is the only wireless provider to sell the iPhone. Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T's wireless unit, said AT&T has not received a significant number of complaints and that, "overall, the new iPhone is performing just great on our 3G network."
In an interview, Siegel recommended that iPhone 3G users sync the devices with Apple's iTunes program frequently to take advantage of improvements that may come via updated software.
Connectivity is just the latest of Apple's problems with the iPhone 3G.
Just hours before the new phones were set to go on sale, users of the Cupertino, California-based company's old data-synching service were locked out of their accounts when it took Apple longer than expected to get the new version, MobileMe, up and running.
On launch day, Apple's servers buckled as buyers tried to activate new iPhones in stores, while owners of older iPhones and the iPod Touch were updating and reactivating their devices at home.