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Apple sends iPhones into 'Coma Mode'

iPhone 3.1: The 'buggiest' update yet

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Complaints about Apple's new iPhone OS 3.1 are flooding the web, with one poster calling it "the buggiest update that Apple has yet released for the iPhone."

The problems being reported are legion. They include iPhones becoming totally unresponsive, dropped calls, poor battery life, difficulties with Wi-Fi connections, failed Microsoft Exchange syncing, dead GPS service, loss of signal after syncing, tethering no longer working in "legally" unlocked phones outside the US, and more.

It should, of course, be noted that on some message boards there's an "everything's fine with mine" post for every complaint - and we've experienced no problems with OS 3.1 on our iPhone 3GS - but the sheer volume of problems being reported can't be ignored.

Take the unresponsive-iPhone reports, for example. Tartly dubbed "Coma Mode," it's a hot topic on Apple's own Apple's "Using iPhone" user forum.

Reports vary, but they have one common thread: that the iPhone chooses to simply disregard all input and needs to be fully rebooted before it will work again. Users report seemingly random occurences, sometimes when the phone has been put to sleep, sometimes when it's locked, and sometimes just whenever it feel like it.

A blogger at the Detroit News provided a detailed description of his attempted - and unsuccessful - workarounds, and a poster in an Apple thread entitled "Mysterious random total shut downs following 3.1 update" described how he reset his iPhone to factory settings, restored it, set Autolock to Off, deleted his email account, and removed all third party apps - all to no avail.

That poster also tried to downgrade his iPhone OS to version 3.0 - but, unfortunately, Apple's iTunes doesn't provide that option. One tech-savvy user, however, has posted a YouTube video of how he used the Mac OS X Terminal to restore iPhone OS 3.0 from an iPhone running the iPhone 3.1 beta.

Finally, as of Thursday morning in a decidedly unscientific poll on Phones Review, 70 per cent of respondents had answered the question "Is your Apple iPhone useless after 3.1 update?" with "Yes and I am so ticked off."

Even those lucky enough to have their iPhone remain functional after the OS 3.1 update are expressing frustration. On the Apple discussion boards alone, there are threads devoted to problems making and receiving calls even when a strong signal is available, reduced battery life, flaky Wi-Fi, and disabling of tethering in unlocked phones outside of the US.

Other users have reported a loss of signal after syncing (YouTube video), and a multitude of problems reported on MacInTouch, Macworld, and iPhone Chat, including problems with GPS service, the ability to restore, and many, many other problems.

And there's also a thread on the Apple discussion boards and a series of posts on DSLReports about the inability to sync with Microsoft Exchange on iPhone 3G phones that have been upgraded to OS 3.1. This frustration, however, involves the new hardware encryption in the iPhone 3GS, and AppleInsider has a comprehensive article explaining the problem and providing a server-side workaround for iPhone 3G users.

Apple did not respond to our request for comment. ®

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