Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Orange iPhone 3GS - No Service, Dropped Calls and Poor signal

Thanks to the patience of the staff at the Orange store at Hempstead Valley Gillingham (Thanks to Gareth, Dario and Fran) my iPhone has finally gone back to Orange. Due to the poor signal received in the ME8 postcode area Orange agreed to cancel the contract and return the phone as there was no guarantee that a replacement iPhone would have any better signal strength.

The latest problems were missed calls when there was full 3G signal showing on the phone and dropping calls mid way through, again when the iPhone initially showed full signal strength. It appears that the iPhone has much more sensitivity to poor signal and moving the phone can affect the aerial so that calls drop even when signal shows as good. Comparison with a non-iPhone mobile on the Orange network shows that iPhone signal strength can be 1 or 2 bars lower which would account for the signal problems encountered if the coverage is patchy.

I have been very impressed with the iPhone 3GS itself and as both O2 and Vodafone have stronger coverage in the area I will be taking out a new contract with one of them once I receive my PAC code from Orange.

[The process of moving a transferred number for a cancelled contract is very convoluted but can be done! You firstly need your contract phone to be reverted to its original number (ie the one before your number was ported into the network). Once this happens you need to register a PAYG SIM with a new number, your phone number can then be transferred onto the PAYG phone to preserve it. You can then request a PAC code to transfer your number to a new network - got that?! Sadly Orange only supply PAC codes by post unlike 3 that send by text message thus speeding up the whole process.]

UPDATE - The difference in service between the O2 and Orange networks in the area is marked. Orange certainly have much higher 3G network coverage than O2 but the way the iPhone operates between the Orange and O2 networks is also different.

The Orange iPhone appears to hold on to a 3G signal for as long as possible even if the service has dropped to one bar, sometimes even getting to the No Service message. The O2 iPhone seems to be much more aggressive with its switching between 2G and 3G networks to presumably avod the dreaded No Service message. The downside is that on O2 the phone is more frequently on the 2G network but does have full signal. Another finding is that the iPhone does seem to have lower coverage at a specific location than a standard Nokia 3G handset.

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