Oh dear... There seems to be some disagreement.
Central London has the world's best 3g coverage and I frequently get no signal or a downgraded 'edge' connection on my iPhone. 02's network really doesn't cope well with multiple users, but some of it is squarely Apple's fault: the chipset is immature and there are known problems with the 3g protocol stack.
That's not all: if the handset fails to find a signal, that's it. End of story. Go visit a web cafe if you needed that email today. Maybe you'll be lucky but the commonest outcome is that the 'Cannot connect to the 3g Network' error messages will be the whole of your mobile internet experience until you reset and revert to the factory settings... Losing all your WiFi network passwords in the process.
Yes, that's exactly what the O2 iPhone helpline will tell you to do. Eventually. And their 'on hold' music system is *horrible*.
What else? Safari.
This is a truly execrable piece of software, written by unsupervised interns who'd had the Internet explained to them, but had never actually used it for themselves. What genius decided that moving off and onto a page - to change your network settings, perhaps - would result in a mandatory refresh, losing the existing page? On a mobile device, where intermittent coverage is a forseeable problem?
It's full of nasty little surprises and laughably bad design decisions... Can I block images or go 'cached-images-only' ? No. And why would anyone want to do that on a mobile device when the network's slow? Can I browse offline when I go underground? Who on Earth would want to do that in London? Or Paris, Tokyo, New York, Madrid, Frankfurt or Stockholm? Can I open a link in another window? Surely not: everyone who reads BoingBoing *wants* to lose the 'portal' page when they follow a link, because the network will always be there for the mobile user when we click the 'back' key. Can I ditch the Style sheet if it isn't small-screen friendly or switch off Flash? No, no, oh dear me no: our clean interface is more important than your imaginary need to bypass dirty web design.
Then there's the big surprise: Safari crashes. Frequently. Locks up, then closes down and vanishes, taking whatever you were reading. Or typing. And I think it's a memory leak in the touch-screen software: the more you scroll, the sooner it crashes.
And, dear me... The buffering for video: iplayer content, embedded quicktime movies and mpegs, and - especially - YouTube video clips. Seriously, I have never watched streamed content on the iPhone anywhere, ever, in a WiFi network or standing directly under a 3g base station, without the whole thing grinding to repeated halts, manual restarts, and an eventual crash. And it doesn't cache or save it: move the slider back to the stuff you stuttered through a minute ago, and all you'll do is relive the experience. Seriously, why did they even bother? This was coded without a spec by people who cannot program and who never test their work in field conditions.
I tolerate it all because the iPhone's far, far better than all the rest. Yes, the others really are that bad; both as hardware and - especially and appallingly - as a user interface. Nevertheless, the Apple image of creativity and talent and clean design producing attractive machines that 'just work' is now seriously tarnished.
If I wanted to be a beta tester I'd stick to Microsoft. But this is my *phone*, dammit: it's a utility, not an accessory.