iPhone issues in San Francisco?

So, I’ve had my iPhone for about a month now and by and large, it works well enough here in Seattle. The thing that I was most concerned about switching from my trusty but aged Treo 755p (my year old phone was aged, trust me) was going back to the AT&T network.

I switched from AT&T in 2001 to Sprint, and I really had not looked back. I had AT&T ever since they bought Cellular One and their Frankenstein analog/digital network was great when I was using my Nokia 6120. That network (or networks) was ubiquitous as I called people from every inch of California backcountry and rarely, if ever, had problems.

Then, they switched to GSM….

Which worked…

Nowhere.

Sprint to the rescue

I dropped AT&T just after going on a cross country road trip where my phone worked very few places and my girlfriend’s (now wife) phone worked everywhere. Sprint’s service had been really great for me. I even have an EVDO card from Sprint that works beautifully. Sadly, they didn’t get the iPhone and I knew that it was a matter of time before I switched back to AT&T’s service.

Surely, AT&T’s network is better now, right?

That said, switching to AT&T had been largely uneventful (the phone doesn’t work as well as Sprint in my house, but it does work). I spent the last four days in San Francisco and had a completely different experience.

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My iPhone worked somewhat at the office downtown, but I dropped about five calls during the day. The phone was completely unusable at night, at my cousin’s in the Castro or my friend Becky’s house. When I was on the network rarely did I ever see 3G and thus left it off to not consume battery power.

Too many people or bad chipset?

So, I’m not completely oblivious to the problems the iPhone has been having since launch. Most recently, there have been hopes that the problems can be solved by a simple firmware update or worse a hardware recall.

“What I was told was that 90% of the disconnects are initiated inside the phone, which would exonerate AT&T. Most of the disconnects are being generated by crashes in the driver code for the 3G chip, which comes from the chip vendor, not something Apple written and outside of Apple’s direct control.”

Now, I’m not a network engineer, but I don’t really buy that it’s a software problem. Maybe it’s my past experiences with AT&T (and lots of others with a similar experience with the Edge iPhone), but the differences between Seattle and San Francisco’s networks are fairly stunning and so far, I’ve only had problems in SF.

SF – How has your iPhone experience been?

This sucker would be going back if I lived in the city. To be generous, my experience has been pretty sub-par. How about you?

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