Like so many other 3G iPhone users, I don’t know what to think of what appears to be a poor signal issue. However, I haven’t actually experienced poor reception either on a call or using data. This picture couldn’t capture it any better I think:

In utter disbelief that I would get a speed test result like this even with 5 full bars, I reverted to the old school speed test site and got a more believable result:
3 minutes apart with the same signal displayed?  WTH?  Two more results on were in the 750 kbps and 850kbps ranges, while a second test on mspeed yielded a result in the low 200s.  
Same test tonight with cache cleared and the same apparent poor signal yielded these results:  439 kbps on tinyspeed and 793 on mspeed!?  Cleared cache and then mspeed hit freaking 1165!?  One more cache clearance and another round on tiny yielded a result of 709 kbps.  Again all of this with half of one bar (if that).  
I’ll follow these instructions to see if an improvement occurs in the device’s perception of reception if nothing else, but man this is crazy huh?  I will say that in the lead up to the iPhone 3G launch I was seeing pretty wild swings on the Tilt during mspeed tests, so maybe this is an AT&T issue? But I never saw less than half a bar when the swings occured so, somehow I just doubt it, and if the first software update from Cupertino doesn’t fix it then what?

Bad SIM City

July 26, 2008

The move from a white 16G iPhone 3G to a black model is now complete.  Like so many others, I checked iPhone availability  just after 9p Saturday – Monday night and the Lenox Mall Apple store in Atlanta thrillingly showed all 3 models in stock by Monday night.  Knowing they open for iPhone buyers at 8a, I set the alarm for 5a (not early enough I would discover), and managed to rise on the 7th snooze, so I didn’t make it out of the house until 630a, stupidly minus coffee.  

A 15 minute ride to Lenox later, I was wandering around the ghost town of a mall only to discover nearly 50 people already occupying a coveted spot in line.  Now I had been assured by someone at this store over the phone that I would not be required to stand in line to exchange white for black, but I wasn’t sure when they would actually let me in the store, so I figured I’d better take spot 51 and take nothing for granted.  If all 16G blacks were gone by the time they dealt with me, then I’d be back to square one.  (FYI, the Starbucks within spitting distance of the Apple store at Lenox doesn’t open until 730a, so bring some coffee with you if you intend to become a member of one of these early morning iPhone lust lines).  Just after 7a, the manager came out to brief us on how things would go down and reorganized the haphazardly formed line, and as I walked past him, I asked what my options were and what a relief it was to hear him confirm I would be able to essentially jump to the front of the line at 8a when they opened! Still in giddy disbelief that I could skip the misery of the line, I hesitated a bit before leaving it, and plopped down at a Starbucks table so as to soon rectify my caffeine withdrawal.  

An hour later a small army of Apple employees, Symbol POS devices drawn, looked ready to do battle with the iPhone craving horde, now 100 strong (at freaking 8a on the 2nd Tuesday after launch!)  I actually didn’t get in until the first wave of iPhone lineups preceded me, but was immediately handed off to someone who proceeded to deactivate the sim card in my white, and then activate a new sim in my new black.  30 minutes later we walked over to a 24 inch iMac and connected the black to iTunes for final activation.  No issues, and a second Starbucks purchase later, I’m on the highway to work, Tilt now useless, iPhone waiting for setup fondling.
I hardly noticed throughout the day I had no 3G or even E symbol.  I chalked it up to either slow network provisioning or the need to connect to iTunes and fully register it (which is stupid because an activated sim has been an activated sim on every other GSM phone I’ve ever used). Post registration and first sync to iTunes that night, still had no data connection (wifi working fine though).  
Called AT&T the next morning from work and they said it was an Apple problem, routed me to Apple, and their automated troubleshooter system didn’t like one of my answers and promptly routed me back to AT&T.  The next AT&T person I talk to thinks if I try the sim in another device I should know one way or the other if it is an activation or a sim issue.  Kicking myself for not thinking of this before I wasted this time on the phone, I rush home for lunch to test the sim in the Tilt. No data connectivity on the Tilt either, so after work I wait in the AT&T store for 30 minutes to explain my saga to CS rep.  Two more failed sim cards later we finally find one that provisions properly on their network immediately?  The manager of the store looked at me incredulously and with a bit of aggravation in his brow exclaimed they were seeing this happen with one out of every half dozen or so iPhones and they had no clue what was going on, implying that it had something to due with Apple’s activation scheme, instead of a true bad batch of sim cards I think?  
After the mess on launch day, I’m inclined to believe him quite honestly, and though I’m now thrilled with the device, I’ll likely fully unlock it as soon as I safely can, just on principle!

There is an AT&T store in the same strip mall I get my hair cut.  So Thursday afternoon post buzz cut, I dropped in hoping ridiculously that a magical shipment of new iPhones might have immediately preceded my entrance.  Thus, I could do the deed and sneak out of there without sacrificing the remainder of my evening.  Alas, all they had were a few on display, and I finally held a black one in my hand (ah yeah).  In an instant, my discipline vanished.  

I had earlier checked iPhone 3G availability at my local Apple stores (ATL), and only one as of that morning still had any.  In fact they had all 3 models: 8G black, 16G black, and 16G white.    I knew 16G was a necessity, but white or black was the real question?  I own (or I should say my wife now owns) a white Macbook, so going in I’m not averse to the white, and due to the fingerprint/scratch factor being less a visible issue on the white in theory, I’m at this point actually leaning white.

I raced from the Cumberland Mall area of Atlanta to Lenox Mall in 15 minutes flat as miraculously traffic was breezy smack dab in the middle of rush hour.  I walked briskly to the Apple store stupidly not expecting to see a line, and when the harsh reality met my eyes, I humbly took my spot at the end of a 30 person iPhone lust train.   Almost immediately a friendly Apple employee warns me they can’t guarantee I’ll be able to get one based on the number of phones people in front of me activate.  I assure him I’m willing to take the risk, and begin what I hope to be the last session of email triage I ever perform on my AT&T Tilt.  Shortly thereafter the store manager informs us that only 16G whites are still to be had.  Relieved, I know that fate has made my choice for me….
90 minutes later I get my one on one purchasing experience (transaction ironically executed via Symbol PDA running WindowsCE), and in 5 more minutes I’m out the door with new white precious.  
In the 72 hours that have followed I’ve enjoyed the fantastic new form factor (plastic, tapered back feels like buttah), flawless OTA Exchange sync (though push sucks battery like a utility meant to suck battery), brilliant internet, better than average applications, decent call quality, less than decent battery life, and endless second guessing of my decision to go with white.  The contrast between the black front and the white back, especially relative to the perfect color symmetry of the black model, has gnawed at me mercilessly.
So, I broke down and called the Apple store I purchased from, and asked what my options were. Could I simply exchange it upon next availability of black, or would I have to return it and then suffer my way through line again?  The former was thankfully the answer I received, but we’ll see how it plays out……….By the way the full erase on the new 2.0 firmware must be the real deal as it is took every bit of the 2 hours it warned me it would take when I hesitatingly touched the confirmation button.  
A follow up back for black post is I pray imminent….