Testing specialists Broadband Testing have turned their attention to what remains the killer app for mobile phones - the ability to make phone calls - and has discovered that some smart phones are not so bright. While all mobiles have to pass radio conformance testing that only covers the minimum of capabilities, in exhaustive …
I bloody KNEW it!
Not about the iPhone. although the fact that they might actually have decent performance in this area might be down to a friend of mine named Sean Cody, who frankly probaly thrashed the thing into shape. We worked together in protocol testing at Panasonic for a long time, where we used to do massive drive testing to etst 2G / 3G handovers.
I wrote an app while at Panasonic which you scripted to notice and speak when it saw these handovers occur, then the driver (another friend of mine who works where I do now) would keep driving until he heard the laptop tell him the test was complete. Worked pretty well...
As a result, our phones were bloody good a 2G / 3G handovers. The fact that the Blackberry isn't doesn't surprise me one bit - american trash, plastic crap, god-awful UI - why should the protocol stack be anything other than cack as well? The Nokia I do find a surprise, you'd think they'd have that right at least. My old P990 does OK, and it's symbian 9...
Smartphones? Shite, frankly - not tested properly, software bulging at the seams, battery life crap... at least the iPhone keeps the basics intact!
You drive through J10 on the M4 and see if your 3G handover works... try J14 as well, that one's a hoot, espcially on O2.
My ONLY problem with the iphone, as a phone, is a bit of a "DUH has anyone ever used this as a phone"
Speaker phone - fantastic, but put it to your ear as a normal phone and soon you find your ear touches the mute zone on the touch-screen and wham! "hello, hello you there? Grrrrrrrrrrr
Why Apple don't make it a two touch zone or double tap I dunno because I don't have jumbo ears!
Testing is rushed shocker
> The testing divisions are under huge pressure to do their work quickly.
This is true of any in-house testing division anywhere. I used to work for a well-known (now bust) PC assembler on Quality Control. PCs built by our well trained staff were given a quick once over by me before being sent on for case stickers and optional software installing. 200 a day. Minimum. That is, less than 90 seconds to check everything, including "is this component actually here", "are all the screws/cables fitted", and importantly "are all the fans actually plugged in"
Little wonder they went under then. Name deliberately left out, because the beancounters sold the company name to some new people who are still trading with it.
Handover is ok on the HTC's I've had, TYTN, TYTNII, Diamond and Touch HD, all running windows mobile 6+ and all from orange.
Do have niggles with "you have missed a call". when the phone never rang.
And which dimbo at HTC introduced an iphone like "slide to answer bar" with the "mute" bar directly underneath it. How many calls have I muted grrrr. Stick to pressing the answer button now.. and waiting 6 or seven seconds..
And what about the C905
The Sony Ericsson C905 was one of the phones tested, and yet not mentioned at all.
(Sony) Ericsson have traditionally had an excellent call quality, cell handover and consistent User Interface, making their devices solid as a phone (which is basically the most important function, no?)
I'd love to know whether or not this still holds true.
nice to see this hopefully they start pushing for better quality
"My ONLY problem with the iphone, [...] put it to your ear as a normal phone and soon you find your ear touches the mute zone on the touch-screen and wham! "hello, hello you there? Grrrrrrrrrrr"
This doesn't happen on any iPhone I've ever seen... the iPhone touch screen is disabled during a call, when the phone is lifted to your ear, so the mute button CAN'T be pressed. You can also press the lock button to lock the screen during a call (this doesn't disconnect the caller), which would completely eliminate the problem even if it did exist.
Perhaps the question is, have YOU ever used the iPhone as a phone???
What was the network config?
Only trouble with test results like this is they don't consider each operators network configurations. Which by their very nature is a unique mix of various infrasture manufacturers. Hence why each operator has its own in house testing and customised software to give best performance when the mobile is used on their own network.
In 'general' I would say Sony/Ericsson and Nokia are the kings of interoperability. Way down the list would be Apple, RIM due to smaller engineering budgets and limited test capabilities.
Never once managed to touch any buttons on the phone whilst talking - the screen always fades out until I've finished the call or move it away from me during the call.
Maybe you've got funny shaped ears?
E71 has crap radio, confirmed
I have Nokia E71 myself, bought as unbranded, sim-free handset, and I'm using it with T-Mobile UK primarily. Although it's pretty damn good mobile overall, it has quite poor radio, unfortunately. That not only affects voice calls, but also - perhaps mostly - mobile web usage on the handset. Dropping data sessions, even when 2G/3G signal is strong, isn't rare on E71. Also, in places with poor coverage, you bet that E71 among other terminals using same network will loose it first and then take quite a while to re-gain it after entering area with strong coverage again.
Really bad radio, unexpectedly, is the most significant flaw of E71 imho, although you won't figure it out from any review widely available online. In fact, I've never seen a good review of mobile phone that would focus on things other than shiny icons and menus or that new-super-duper browser featuring that ass-kicking multitouch technology etc etc etc...
Oh yes, network config
Anonymous Coward has asked important question - what network was used for test and were conditions exactly the same (or at least similar) to test all handsets? Very often the case is that not only terminals are bad - networks are too.
"The fact that the Blackberry isn't doesn't surprise me one bit - american trash, plastic crap, god-awful UI - why should the protocol stack be anything other than cack as well?"
Er, RIM are Canadian. If you're going to make xenophobic rants, at least get the country right.
@Niggles with missed calls
Don't think that's due to the hardware.
WinMo might have a lot of problems but it's biggest is how it manages answering of calls. Because the phone app isn't high priority enough, it regularly took longer than 4-6 rings (i.e., the time it takes to go to voicemail) for the phone to wake up and start registering user input.
Worse still on the TytnII, if the phone's in keyboard out (tilted) mode and attached to a charger, the act of unplugging it and snapping the device shut and then answering the call resulted in a missed call *every* time because WinMo was unable to handle the switch from landscape->portrait without effectively hanging the device. By the time CPU cycles were available the call had long been missed.
Mind you, I've also heard of friends with the iPhone who've missed calls because the the CPU has been tied up by the active app to the point where the slide-2-unlock won't respond to user input, so they're not immune either.
Android seems good so far, but I don't get that many calls (and don't usually want to speak to people anyway).
@ grumpy tom
Come on, admit it, you dont have an iphone do you, you are inferring that you would brush the mute button with your ear aren't you, or recounting a tale that a mate of your wife's aunty heard from one of her freind's.
I use my iPhone as a phone al the time and I would disagree with you completley, the speaker is SHITE, I dislike the tinny, awful quality but as a phone, I answer and talk then hang up, I have NEVER accidentaly muted a call.
I have however accidentaly knocked the "Mute" button on the side near the volume buttons which meant I missed calls because I couldnt hear the thing ringing (but then I do have big fat sausage fingers, not your usual Apple demographic stick thin geek type!)
It's a phone FFS, if you dont like it get a different phone. Far more worrying is the news that every iPhone in the world is about to be hacked by a simple text message!
Re: And what about the C905
The C905 was indeed tested, and did very well, though not quite as well as the iPhone: I'm afraid it's the extremes that get all the attention while the solid performers tend to get ignored.
Have some sympathy for terminal vendors
Our experience is that radio performance varies significantly across manufacturers and across each manufacturers terminal platform. You need to reflect on how much is going on in real-time within a terminal and have some sympathy with vendors. One one hand, the industry is asking for ever increasing functionality but at the same time not funding the extra bells and whistles that vendors are putting into their phones. The problem with smartphones is that they still have feature phone type batteries and radios whilst at the same time have large bright colour LCDs and a reasons for people to keep the radios switched on i.e. data. I suggest the characteristics reported in this article relate to the way in which the baseband radio is programmed to behave. Significant power savings can and are made by devices like the iPhone simply by taking acceptible shortcuts in the use of radio signalling. What do you want? Features, convenience and good radio performance with rapidly depleating batteries or be able to make calls all day? You can't have both!
Bad radio on Nokia E71
Try the Nokia 5800... works as expected, hands over pretty well. A shame they left that one out of the equation.
iPhone being an unexpected star of the show...
"with Apple's iPhone being an unexpected star of the show".
Bearing in mind how often the iPhone wins awards for being the best mobile phone then why was it unexpected?
... all the anti-iphone lot who always say "I just want a phone that can be used as a phone" will immediately run out and buy an iPhone now... no???... didn't think so.
Until the bugs are fixed from firmware 3.0 I'm not planning on continuing with my iPhone past my contract ending.. infact I may pay to leave if things arn't fixed within the next month or two. :(
Re: Re: And what about the C905
This differs from my experience with the C905. Reception on mine is not as good as previous Sony Ericsson feature phones. It's one of the worst performers I've had. If I carry my phone in my pocket then I get little or no network coverage; when the phone is just sitting on the desk the signal is all over the place. This in areas where I used to get good coverage on older phones.
iPhone call/data handovers
According to my mum, who is hard of hearing, the iPhone is the best phone she's ever used in terms of call audio quality.
The niggles I've seen with the iPhone have happened when I'm out of service, and a call comes in where the caller hangs up as soon as it goes to voicemail. This doesn't register as a missed call when I come back into coverage. I know this because I was testing a VoIP system for work, and was repeatedly making such calls.
In terms of handovers, the iPhone may work well for call handovers between cells but data handover between cell and WiFi is abysmal. It happens a lot when I pick up the phone, take it out of standby, and start an app immediately - it starts to use cellular data but when the WiFi starts up (a small delay after waking the phone), the download is transferred away from the cell network but never starts on WiFi. It's a minor niggle, as I can usually either restart the app or wait for the WiFi icon to come up before starting it in the first place, but it sure is annoying.
Where's the actual *making calls* part?
Having used a number of touch-screen only phones... they all suck horribly at making calls (i.e. dialing the actual number numbers). Compare initiating a call while driving in a noisy car, walking, trying to do just about anything else at the same time, it's the most annoying thing ever. The fact that everything is visual drove me away from them, not just calling but any other task you might be trying to do.
well seeing as you shouldn't be phoning while driving I don't see where the problem is
Now test against a Nokia 3310
Ok it doesn't do 3g but the other tests would be interesting.
So what happened with the SE C905???? Huh? Why mention it then ignore it El Reg?
Nope - never accidentally muted a call with my iphone - the touchscreen goes blank as soon as it gets close to the head, preventing any buttons from being touched. The only thing I HAVE managed to do once was to cut someone off when trying to change phone hands - but this was my own clumsy sausage-fingered fault.
My wife does this all the time, I've never done it. Not sure if it's her phone or her ear, but I think what's happening is the proximity sensor hasn't registered the ear. It's an inch or so above the mute button, so maybe between how you hold it and the shape of your ear?
@Mad as a Bat - in my experience the C905 signal meter means diddley squat - often it's displaying zero bars, but paired with an "H" and the web browsing and phone calls work just fine - yet anything less that two bars on GSM and it's unusable.
Seams to hold connection to the network well (gets just about usable signal in the lounge unlike any other Sony Ericsson/Sony handset I have had - and unlike my housemate's Nokia) - certainly enough to answer the phone and walk into the garden! (Mind you if it wasn't for the local NIMBY's that wouldn't be a concern.)
Woops! Oh, and network config...
"Er, RIM are Canadian. If you're going to make xenophobic rants, at least get the country right."
D'oh. That'll teach me to go off on one without researching. I thought Canada would make better stuff - I do stand by my thoughts on RIM products. I've never been a RIMmer. chuckle...
BTW, I think Voda use all-Ericsson network infrastructure - their single-vendor approach has, in my opinion, meant less of the embarassments like the one we've seen with O2 recently. Certainly, when I was testing 2G/3G handovers, Voda's network was always better than O2s across a range of reference handsets.
No mention of Moto here, I see... probably best.
it wins "awards" from fashionistas and techie wanting an invite to the next Apple gig so they can be seen to be cool.
Actually, since playing with others iphones i have become more impressed, the fascist and restrictive call plans are what put me off for the moment, and....
....once iphone users have stopped showing how cool Crash Bandicoot, ibeer, itube, web browsing and how nice the UI is, they do concede whilst hanging out the office window that call reception etc isnt actaully that good. Still, at least now with verison 3 of the OS they can send MMS.
iPhone good at handling calls ?
Pity its rubbish at handling data. I still don't get why users are "forced" to turn off 3G on their iphones to stop the dreaded 3G / Edge / GPRS / No Signal scenario in poor signal areas.
Also I get the highest proportion of silent calls from iPhone callers.
This is a surprise to me :-)
Its is best at simple usability though.
>>Bearing in mind how often the iPhone wins awards for being the best mobile phone then why was it unexpected?
Usually when Apple stuff wins awards its for looking nice on the desk/shelf/armband, not for actually having good performance or technical features.
@Anonymous Coward @07:17
"once iphone users have stopped showing how cool Crash Bandicoot, ibeer, itube"
I don't think anyone's shown off Crash Bandicott, ibeer or itube for at least 18 months...
"web browsing and how nice the UI is, they do concede whilst hanging out the office window that call reception etc isnt actaully that good"
and the title of this article is "iPhone actually good at making calls shock "..... someone can't read...
Maybe they should try the iPhone with 3.0
Since the upgrade I've had no end of hassles when making phone calls most noticeably calls either dropping or me sounds like a robot to the person at the other end of the line.
Who would have guessed the iPhone would be so remarkable at handling phone calls?