Users split over iPhone 2.1's impact on 3G dropped calls

Some say they're happy, others say connection problems have worsened

"There are two places along a road near my office where I would have a strong 3G signal strength indicator, yet my call would drop. This has happened every day since mid-July when I got my 3G," said Reggie Escalante on Friday. "Today I had strong 3G signal and did not lose my call. As an aside, browsing in the elevator I didn't lose my signal (before it would just drop the 3G and switch to EDGE) riding 19 levels up."

One thing that users could agree on was that 2.1 had boosted the number of signal-strength bars they saw on their iPhone displays. Apple promised as much in the iPhone 2.1 release notes, which said the update includes "improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display."

But iPhone owners could not reach a consensus about what that meant, and whether Apple was simply pulling a fast one.

"I am seeing 3 bars now at work where before I had one," reported "d18ge" on Friday morning. dBms [ a cell call signal strength measurement -- Ed. ] reading still reading around -101 to -107 but am now able to receive calls where before [it] was pretty unreliable."

For every "d18ge," however, there was someone like "267," who acknowledged the change in the iPhone's bar indicator, but rejected the idea that anything had changed. "I'm getting a 3 or 4 bar 3G signal, but once I start using it I get just a few minutes use then it drops back down to [EDGE]," said the Glasgow, Scotland resident on the same thread. "Once that's happened, the only way I can get 3G back is to switch it off and then on again. It looks like Apple has tried to pull the wool over our eyes by simply displaying more bars. There is no reception fix."

The iPhone's 3G connection problems have been more than a topic of debate on Apple's support forum. At least two lawsuits have been filed in US federal courts seeking class-action status for claims that Apple deceived customers when it promoted the new iPhone as a 3G-capable device and promised buyers they would be able to surf on the Web at speeds twice as fast as the original model.

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Gregg Keizer

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