iPhone 3G Connection Issues Related to Software or Hardware?

According to a new article from BusinessWeek.com, additional sources have corroborated an analyst's claim that recent iPhone 3G connection issues are the result of issues with the Infineon chipset used to provide 3G connectivity in the iPhone. The sources indicate that Apple plans to address the issue through a software update rather than a hardware recall.

Two sources say Apple will likely issue a software update by the end of Septemberif not by the end of this monthto resolve the issues. Apple and Infineon are currently testing the fix, which will be included in a broader update of the iPhone's software.

The exact problem with the Infineon chipset remains the subject of speculation, with one source claiming that the fault rests with the chipset struggling to keep up with the popularity and data consumption of the iPhone 3G. However, additional speculation suggests that Apple has been overly conservative with its software settings for determining whether the 3G signal and bandwidth is sufficient to support 3G functions at any given time.

Part of the role of the Infineon chip is to check whether there's enough 3G bandwidth available in a given area. If 3G isn't available or there isn't enough bandwidth, the iPhone will be shifted to a slower network. One source says Apple programmed the Infineon chip to demand a more powerful 3G signal than the iPhone really requires. So if too many people try to make a call or go on the Internet in a given area, some of the devices will decide there's insufficient power and switch to the slower networkeven if there is enough 3G bandwidth available.

The source claims that this issue primarily arises in areas of high iPhone density such as "the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, and certain overseas locales."

In contrast, however, an MSNBC.com article cites a report from Ny Teknik, a Swedish technical magazine, claiming that the issues are in fact hardware-related.

The report said the most likely cause of the 3G problems is defective adjustments between the antenna and an amplifier that captures very weak signals from the antenna. This could lead to poor 3G connectivity and slower data speeds.

Apple has not yet acknowledged the existence of 3G connection issues with the new iPhone and declined to comment for either article, leaving the details of the problem and Apple's plans for addressing it uncertain and subject to speculation for the time being.

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