back to article AT&T's iPhone 4 drops 2.5 times as many calls as Verizon's

Owners of AT&T's GSM iPhone 4 experience over two-and-a-half times as many dropped calls as do those using Verizon's new CDMA model. This bad news for AT&T comes from ChangeWave, self-described as "an independent research boutique", which released the results of its survey of 4,068 smartphone users on Tuesday. According to …


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The question asked was: "Over the past 90 days, how frequently have you experienced a dropped call on your iPhone 4?" The graphs show a single percentage per carrier. Does Verizon's 1.8% mean that only 1.8% of Verizon customers in the survey experienced /any/ dropped calls, or that Verizon customers averaged 1.8% of their calls being dropped?


My experience as well

Also, I get coverage in places I never did with AT&T, even though I am in the suburbs of a major city.

Jobs Halo

90 days?

Your own site said the phone was available from February 3rd:

That is 62 days ago... not 90. How could you therefore accept a report which is doing a 90 day comparison?


Bloody iphone

I've got a work one & I can't make reliable calls with it/them. We installed femtocells to improve things (as we're out in the wilds) I still can't use it for calls.

Home reception was crap too, though pre iphone Nokia 8800 & Blackberry had perfect call quality . So I put in another femtocell. Calls are now just a tad above utter shite.

What bollox.

Don't get me onto the bloody charging regime..


Different Conclusion

So, for the people who continue drumming that there is no way in hell you can drop a call and your network has to be 99.995% reliable: THE USER IS STILL HAPPY WITH 4% CALL DROP. News at 10.

Granted that is an iUser, but it is a user none the less. Probably "more" user than "less" because he actually PAYS MORE and is ready to PAY MORE and has shown that he has the money to PAY MORE.

Nuff said. Anonymous as I have to keep on listening to 99.995 obsessed people 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for a living.



Perhaps the Reality Distortion Field emitted by the iPhone causes users of said iPhone to overlook things like dropped calls and still be "overall happy" with their iPhone experience....of course, if it was WiFi that kept dropping out, causing forced page re-requests to be the norm, I'm sure there'd be a bit more of an uproar.

Silver badge

Another Conclusion

% dropped calls

All Verizon: 1.4%

Verizon iPhone 4: 1.8%

Difference: 0.4%, meaning a Verizon customer is ~28.6% more likely to get a dropped call with an iPhone 4 than with another phone.

All AT&T: 4.6%

AT&T iPhone: 4.8%

Difference: 0.2%, meaning an AT&T customer is ~4.2% more likely to get a dropped call with an iPhone 4.

So, assuming that the data is truly representative, the iPhone 4's CDMA connectivity is significantly poorer than that of other phones offered by Verizon.

Jobs Halo

I am happy with my iPhone

That does not mean I am happy with ATT. I use my phone constantly at work, taking videos of equipment running, using the camera to document part failures, even using a level app to set up tools.

If I was most interested in a phone I wouldn't have a smart phone I would have an old style phone only were the battery would last for a week.

People like the iPhone because it does so many other things.

Anonymous Coward

ATT head quarters

When I worked at ATT in San Ramon (corp HQ) the contractors use to laugh that people on ATT had issues getting a signal were as sprint and verizon phones worked peachy. The ATT employees( management ) did not find it so funny.


So, er, let me get this straight...

... they asked people how many dropped calls they were getting, but didn't bother to look at the *context* of those dropped calls?

Even the London Underground has no cellphone reception in the underground sections yet; it's expensive to fit this sort of thing. I don't know how many US cities have wired-up their road, pedestrian, subway tunnels and other infrastructure which would otherwise have no cellphone signals *at all*, but I've not seen any data suggesting it's much better over there than it is here in Europe. Dropped calls are *normal*. And 4.8% is hardly anything to get too excited about. That still means 95.2% of calls are NOT getting dropped.

Considering the sheer size of the United States of America, and its tiny overall population density, that's actually pretty good. I've lived in parts of *London* that *still* get terrible GSM reception today.

If I'm using a mobile phone via an in-car hands-free kit, I'd *expect* a call to be dropped if I entered a tunnel. GSM is rather less common in the US, and tends to be much more concentrated around urban and suburban areas according to the coverage maps. The CDMA networks have had longer to spread out and are more common generally even in outlying rural districts. That's inevitably going to skew the data in a survey such as this. (And let's ignore the fact that CDMA iPhones have only been in the wild for two months or so, not the three covered by the survey.)

As cellphone networks spread and improve, the call-drop rate should fall, but is unlikely ever to reach zero, regardless of whether you're using CDMA, GSM or bloody Iridium.

Judging by the complaints on various websites—which is no less "scientific" than the survey reported on by this article given that both have strong self-selection biases—the problems with AT&T's network aren't caused by the iPhone. They're caused by AT&T's network coverage. For every whinge about dropped calls on an iPhone, you'll find another claiming they get *better* reception with their iPhone than they did with their old, non-Apple, phone. (That's certainly been my experience: I wouldn't go back to a Sony Ericsson or Nokia if you *paid* me.)


There are other reasons for dropped calls

I live a few miles from an NSA facility. At one point they had shut down every garage door opener in a fifteen mile radius.


Drop call

Press redial. Sorted!!!


Just don't get it

Let's be honest, not many people actually buy iPhones for the phone part. Sure it's a nice add on but it isn't part of the main feature set desired. Heck, the itouch sells nearly as well and it has a higher up front cost, add 3g data and a carrier subsidy with no voice and a pint says it would sell far better than the iphone. Another pint says an itouch paired with a dumb mobile with 4g wifi hotspot built in would outsell nearly everything else 2 to 1.

Dropped calls, meh, it won't be long before the iphone/android crowd starts carrying a cheap nokia with a month long battery for voice calls.

Gold badge

Some just don't know better

@Steven Knox, maybe. The other possible factor is signal strength. Verizon in my area is highly reliable, but DO have a lot of rural areas where the signal dips to 0-1 bars. They have it tuned so voice quality is unaffected by this, data speeds don't drop much, and although signal gets to *0* bars, it'll get "0" off 2 or 3 cell sites ("soft handoff") so it doesn't drop that last bit to "no service". But given IPhone's well-known subpar RF, I could see some of these areas being "no service" with them.

AT&T, on the other hand, people complain they drop calls even with 4 bars, and calls garble until they are useless at 2 bars or so (due to excessive use of AMR-HR (half-rate voice codec)). In quite a few markets, AT&T has cell sites from both the former AT&T WIreless ("blue network") and Cingular ("Orange network") so they could easily have higher average signal strength than Verizon in these markets, I think people tend to consider dropped calls with 4 bars "coverage" problems. It's not, it's a congestion-related problem.


Some just don't care that much.

But, at least in howardfourms, quite a few people just assume it's normal for all carriers to regularly drop calls, have data either fail or get terribly slow during rush hour, and so on. People tell them "No, that is not normal" and then someone inevitably replies the person that said it's not normal is just a fanboi for some other carrier, reinforcing the idea that these network faults are entirely normal. When these people finally DO try another carrier they are invariably shocked at the difference (well, almost always -- AT&T does have some exceptionally good markets, I hear Seattle is especially good. And every carrier has some weak markets as well.)

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