Why I returned my iPhone


1. The network, which should be fantastic in a place like NYC, sucks very badly. Not only did I have the switching problems that many others suffered, often times it didn’t matter if I was on EDGE or 3G. With full bars showing, I often couldn’t get web pages to download AT ALL, or they would take forever. Friends of mine in the exact same place and time with other brands of cellphone or first gen iPhones could get on and download easily.

2. GPS has serious problems in a place like NYC.

3. When I bought the iPhone, I assumed it would be able to be unlocked soon (as the first gen was), but that still has not happened. Since I will be traveling in several other countries for long periods in the next few months, I didn’t feel like paying ATT’s outrageous roaming charges. If I can’t pop a new SIM in wherever I go, that is a problem.

4. Constant denials from Apple and ATT about problems are not good customer service. On the other hand, my experience at the Apple Store (West 14th street) when returning my phone was exemplary. They were very helpful and kind and did not hassle me about my return.

I really loved the iPhone when it was working properly, but that was all too rare (at least in NYC. It seemed much better in the Midwest with both GPS and Internet access.) When I return to the US at the end of the year, I will look into getting another. Perhaps the problems will be fixed by then.


  1. Viviana Wong says:

    I have the first generation iPhone and it works great in all places I have tried (, California, Hawaii, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Moscow (Russia), Yaroslav (Russia), British Columbia (Canada). The only place it did not work was New York City. The Edge network simply crawled to almost a stop. So I suspect that AT&T network needs to be enhanced in that city. Something is horribly wrong with it.

  2. James Katt says:

    Good riddance to you.
    I hope you love your next smartphone.

    If you want an unlocked iPhone, travel to Europe and buy one there. Obviously, the hackers are having a difficult time finding a security hole through which they can unlock the iPhone 3G.

    GPS works great. But if you cant see the sky because of all the tall skyscrapers around you, of course it won’t work well. The iPhone’s GPS antenna is small. It is far better to get a GPS device from Garmin which has a larger antenna. But then, around those steel and concrete skyscrapers, perhaps such a device won’t work well either.

    The main problem is still AT&T’s network. AT&T’ did not build enough bandwidth to handle all the new iPhones that are utilizing data services. It’s transmitters easily shut down when they have to handle more clients than they have power for. This problem will occur with all the other smartphones whose users actually surf the web and use data services. Even Blackberry is having problems with AT&T’s network.

    Verizon isn’t the answer. It’s phones don’t work outside the U.S. They don’t do GSM – the world standard. You can’t text message to every country in the world. And it’s “unlimited data” has a 5 GB per month limit – otherwise they terminate you. Note that this limit is less than the 6 GB limit that Rogers of Canada has that people complain about.

    Of course, you could just as well use your unlocked first generation iPhone. It’s still great. But it won’t have the App Store – the killer app, which now has over 2500 applications to download – far greater than by using the Installer App on the unlocked phone.

  3. Stephen says:

    Believe me, if I had a first gen iPhone, I would. But I don’t and they are mighty hard to come by these days. BTW the App Store is not a problem, because you could easily upgrade the software on a first gen (if you could get one at a reasonable price that is).

  4. Pecos Bill says:

    Someone with huge wanderlust like you should never have a phone locked to a single carrier. I love my iPhone but don’t use the phone part that much. It’s definitely got problems, but I’m keeping it. (Must be nice to be independently wealthy. ;-)

    AT&T has horrible network problems. The iPhone has proven their network lacks capacity and NYC is reportedly the absolute worst. (Austin seems a close second.) My thoughts here:

    If the NYC network wasn’t so overloaded, I would think the assisted GPS would do rather well there as it could do the fuzzy location info (lacking precision of the sat’s they can use WiFi stations and cell towers to get a general guess.)

  5. Pecos Bill says:

    Oh, and Apple’s people are instructed (I swear, no proof) to say they’ve not heard of anything until the official channels (or official leakers (pun intended)) say something. (Yes, I’m an Apple product fan going way back; unrelated: I’m appx 20 days older than you S.S. Happy geezer plus one birthday even if belated.)

    You should see traffic coming from macsurfer as that’s what brought me.

  6. Constable Odo says:

    You were probably a bit premature in returning it so soon. The iPhone and the AT&T 3G network are having teething problems that will probably be resolved in a few months. They’re pretty much closing in on the problem. Whether ultimately AT&T can keep up with heavy data usage in NYC is questionable. Maybe a few more towers, a few more tower amplifiers and fine tuning the software on both the iPhone and transmitters. I don’t know if you’re aware, but the BlackBerry Bold is having the same problems. They also need to implement a firmware patch. I think that no matter what 3G handset you are going to use in New York City, if it’s on the AT&T network you are going to run into problems when everyone is using their handsets in a densely populated areas.

    Anyway, good luck with your next handset. In six months you’ll wish you’d stayed with the iPhone.

  7. Art Vandelay says:

    Good riddance! How dare you say anything negative about Apple, or our God, Lord Jobs! Lord Jobs is perfect and anything he deems fit to give you is perfect. You should lick his boots like every other Apple worshipper and thank him for your iPhone. There are no problems with it! There are no problems with it! Microsoft is bad!!

  8. Bob Busch says:

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn why you returned your iPhone. Sales being what they are, I doubt anybody will notice.

  9. NYC iPhone 3G says:

    Buy an unlocked iPhone overseas. They are available in a few countries, including Italy. Do your research before you go. You will be able to get SIMs for whichever country you happen to be in, including using ATT in the US.

  10. NYC iPhone 3G says:

    If you intend to get a contract with ATT, you can get a FREE backup phone, with your contract. Alternatively, you can purchase a phone with your ATT contract at the subsidized price that gets good resale value, to help defray the cost of your legally unlocked iPhone. Besides the iPhone, I don’t know which phone would have a good resale demand, but there may be another desired phone out there, although I can’t imagine which.

    I read that pricey iPhone 3G phones are available unlocked on ebay, over at Seeking Alpha. I have not confirmed this report.

  11. Eric Yulo says:

    I bought an iPhone yesterday and I’m returning it today. AT&T has no signal (no voice, no 3G nor EDGE) at my home, which is dead smack in the middle of San Francisco. It also had poor signal inside a mall in downtown San Francisco. I’m begrudgingly getting Verizon’s uncool LG Dare instead.

  12. AC says:

    The iPhone is for sheep.

    There are lots of better handsets out there that aren’t locked down with DRM and a remote kill switch for apps.

    You might be interested in an S60 device from Nokia, who currently command more than 40% of the world’s marketshare in smartphones — their Nseries handsets come with full-on Office suites, 5-megapixel autofocus cameras with video and sync great with Macs.

    Anyway, thanks for posting and don’t let these mindless iPhone fanboys get to you…