iPhone 4: Can I get what I need?

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We can talk about the iPhone 4 in a moment.  Thanks to Gizmodo, we have a good idea of what the next generation iPhone will look like as a physical and functional device.  What isn’t answered is the question to my number one issue with the iPhone: It’s not really a good phone.

IMG_0132Why am I saying that?  Here I am, sitting at my desk. There are 5 bars next to the ATT.  Phone rings, I answer, we start talking. About 30 seconds to one minute later, the call just drops.  Gone.  Kerfloot.

The picture to the left is AT&T’s “Marks the Spot” app.  Each time I lose a call, or can’t make a call, or generally have problems using the phone as a phone, I use this app to report it.  Right now, I’m sure there’s a guy heading to the cell tower nearest to me to do whatever it takes to provide me with insanely great coverage.

Mick famously sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need.”  I want all the cool features of the iPhone 3G, plus the new features of the iPhone 4.

The iPhone 4 features

  • a bigger battery
  • a front facing camera, presumably for video chat
  • flash photography
  • better screen resolution
  • app folders
  • multiple EAS accounts

What I need doesn’t seem to be on the list — a really reliable telephone.

AT&T Upgrading the 3G network

Hooray!  AT&T has announced upgrades to its 3G network to HSPA 7.2 in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami.  According to their press release, HSPA 7.2 can support 7.2 Mbps. Of course, this in itself doesn’t help my 3G (no "S")  iPhone.  The important part of the announcement comes several paragraphs down:

As HSPA 7.2 is rolled out in each U.S. market, it will be supported by substantial additional wireless backhaul, the critical connections that carry traffic from cell sites to AT&T’s IP backbone network.

If I read this correctly, it means that the network will be able to support more devices pulling more data. That’s a real benefit.

To the degree that one can feel warm and fuzzy about TPC, I have to say "Good job, guys!"

AT&T and the iPhone

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The New York Times reports Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T.  Really?  Actually, it’s not all that bad here in Chicago, but when a 3G cell gets saturated, data speeds drop to nothing. My big gripe is that voice mail often loses touch with the phone.  I get no indication of a failed call or voice mail until I reboot my phone and it suddenly discovers 4 messages.

Back to the article:

Point:

AT&T’s right to be the exclusive carrier for iPhone in the United States has been a golden ticket for the wireless company. The average iPhone owner pays AT&T $2,000 during his two-year contract — roughly twice the amount of the average mobile phone customer.

And the bad news

The company has also delayed bandwidth-heavy features like multimedia messaging, or text messages containing pictures, audio or video. It is also postponing “tethering,” which allows the iPhone to share its Internet connection with a computer, a standard feature on many rival smartphones.

At the same time, ATT is now promoting netbooks, as well as 3G "modems" for notebooks. What effect are they going to have on the network and will they cause ATT to further delay tethering?  And why do I get either 0 or 5 bars at my desk?