If you subscribe to my twitter feed, you know that I've been trying out the iPhone for the past month. The reason? Besides the obvious "I'm a cell phone geek, and like to play with as many phones as possible" one, I do it simply to get away from becoming completely addicted to the BlackBerry platform. While I acknowledge that I'm a die hard BlackBerry junkie, I realize they're not for everyone, and I try other platforms in an attempt to be open-minded and to provide the best advice possible to everyone.
That aside, I've noticed that my overall call quality has gotten noticeably worse since I picked up the device, thanks to AT&T's...strained...network (for lack of a better word that I can't write on here). On average, I drop 2-4 calls per day, and have numerous people telling me that their calls are routing to my voicemail after a ring or two (actually, as I was writing this, I received a call from a family member, who said "why didn't you answer a minute ago?").
Though it's a serious problem, my situation isn't nearly as bad as New York City resident Manoj Gupta's. Apparently, he was dropping calls left and right, so he stopped by an Apple store for help. After consulting with the Genius Bar, they performed a stat dump, and discovered that he was dropping 22 percent of his calls. 22 percent?!? Oh, wait - it gets worse. When he voiced his frustrations to the Genius, he was told that the dropped call average in New York City is 30 percent. That's almost a third of the average iPhone user's calls! I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that the device drops that many calls or the fact that people are still buying the iPhone (and indirectly, AT&T's network) like it's candy.
I couldn't believe it; I have call issues, but 30 percent is something I can't touch (yet). Since the problem originated in New York City, I e-mailed our very own Adriana Lee, who lived in NYC (and owned the iPhone at the time) for many years. In our conversation, this is what she said:
I am not surprised. The old line switch (i.e., "Hello? Hello? My iPhone's cutting out! If you can hear me, I'll call you back from my landline") was practically invented in New York City. But you want to know what's weird? I've actually had a network connection drop out on the street, and then when I went down into the subway, a random connection showed up underground — all in the same neighborhood. Go figure.
I've long had a love-hate relationship with the iPhone/AT&T experience. I wrote recently that Apple appears to be losing their interest in exclusive relationships. I really hope this is true — more as a user than as an industry person. A good device saddled with a bad network is like a sexy crush who has overbearing, overprotective parents. Nice to look at, but eventually, the screwy interference will win out.
I get the typical "wireless service isn't guaranteed everywhere" disclaimer, but 30 percent is unacceptable. More importantly, it continues to indirectly affect Apple's brand. To me, the line that sums it up best is the last sentence written on the Apple invoice: "...the problem is consistent with the service provided by AT&T."