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Apple preps patch for 'problematic 3G' iPhone?

Rumoured release to cure connectivity woes

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An upcoming software patch may bring relief to iPhone 3G owners whose handsets have been struck down by inexplicable connection problems.

So reports the Wall Street Journal, which quotes unnamed “people familiar with the matter” who say that Apple is set to release a fix within weeks.

Since the 3G handset’s release, customers have complained that the phone frequently switches to Edge connections even when 3G is available. This results in a slow web connection and, sometimes, dropped calls.

Apple hasn’t officially acknowledged any such problem, but it’s a widely held belief that an Infineon-made chipset is to blame.

It’s thought that the chip’s programmed to seek out a stronger 3G connection than the phone actually needs. If the 3G signal is considered by the chip to be too weak - even though it could be used - the part forces the iPhone 3G to connect over Edge instead.

Another theory is that if too many people are connected using 3G within a given area, such as Central London, then the strength of the 3G connection found by Infineon’s chip again will be deemed not good enough, forcing the iPhone to opt for Edge.

Changing the code that runs on the chip should fix the glitch.

Unless, of course, it's a hardware problem, which is what respected Swedish engineering journal Ny Teknik claims. According to an MSNBC report, the problem's due to "defective adjustments between the antenna and an amplifier that captures very weak signals from the antenna". That then forces the handset to default to Edge.

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