iphone 4s on AT&T -- Is connection reliability improved?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by WannaGoMac, Oct 20, 2011.


Is your AT&T reliability improved with the 4s?

  1. Yes -- AT&T reliability is improved with the 4s

  2. No -- AT&T reliability hasn't changed with the 4s

  1. WannaGoMac, Oct 20, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011

    macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    About five people I know who used to complain how awful the AT&T 3G service was on their iphone 3G and 3GS (haven't found any iphone 4 people who switched to 4s) have told me since switching to iPhone 4s on AT&T they haven't dropped a single call and don't have the internet drops in connectivity. All are in major urban areas (NYC, Chicago, DC). I understand the iphone 4s now uses the antenna design required for phones by Verizon (dual switchable antennas spaced far apart) and a new baseband processor.

    Anandtech reviewed and confirmed the new antenna & baseband system in iphone 4s is improved.

    " The original iPhone 4 design was flawed. Although Apple downplayed the issue publicly, it solved the deathgrip antenna problem with the CDMA iPhone 4. The iPhone 4S brings that fix to everyone. If you don’t remain stationary with your phone in an area with good coverage, the dual-chain antenna diversity introduced with the iPhone 4S is a tangible and significant improvement over the previous GSM iPhone 4. In North Raleigh, AT&T’s coverage is a bit on the sparse side. I get signal pretty much everywhere, but the quality of that signal isn’t all that great. The RSSI at my desk is never any better than -87dBm, and is more consistently around -94. Go down to my basement and the best you’ll see is -112dBm, and you’re more likely to see numbers as low as -130 thanks to some concrete walls and iron beams. The iPhone 4’s more sensitive cellular stack made it possible to receive phonecalls and text messages down there, although I couldn’t really carry on a conversation - particularly if I held the phone the wrong way. By comparison, the iPhone 3GS could not do any of that. The iPhone 4S’ antenna diversity makes it so that I can actually hold a conversation down there or pull ~1Mbps downstream despite the poor signal strength. This is a definite improvement in the one area that is rarely discussed in phone reviews: the ability to receive and transmit a cellular signal. The iPhone 4 already had one of the most sensitive cellular stacks of any smartphone we’d reviewed, the 4S simply makes it better. Performance at the edge of reception is not the only thing that’s improved. If you’re on a HSPA+ network (e.g. AT&T), overall data speeds have shifted upwards."

    Please only vote if you have found AT&T 3g service poor in your area AND you're an iphone 4s user now.

    If you're now using an iphone 4s on AT&T, could you please report

    1) Do you find significant reliability improvement (far less dropped calls and internet timeouts) with the 4s?
    2) What area of the USA do you use the iphone 4s?
    3) Which iphone model did you have before the 4s?
  2. macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2010
  3. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Thanks for your response, but it's not very helpful since you provide no details. What iphone did you use? Where are you? Is this with AT&T?

    otherwise, glad you have great service. Many people with AT&T do have problems and it's from these people I am trying to learn.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2003
    I've had an original iPhone, an iPhone 3GS and now a 4S. Never had any dropped calls or call quality issues with the original iPhone (no 3G service), but typically suffered degraded quality calls with the 3GS once 3G came to my area. One or two dropped calls, but no internet reliability issues at all.

    On the 4S I still get poor audio quality on calls at times, and have had one dropped call. Internet performance seems notably better in terms of speed, and still no reliability issues.

    Overall, my conclusion would be that the 4S is not notably better on calls, but is better on data.

    Given that call quality has previously been much better in other areas than where I live, I'd also conclude that AT&T's 3G service is more of a determining factor in call issues than the phone.
  5. WannaGoMac, Oct 20, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011

    thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    AT&T 3G service is important, but an improved antenna design will help if you have low quality signal in your area.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2004
    Horrible, horrible, horrible ATT service on 3GS, 4 and 4S. East side of Cleveland in Geauga County (one county to east of CLE). Service at home so bad have to rely on m-cell.
    Only get 3 bars and slow data speeds in the middle of a light industrial/distribution area between CLE and Akron (work). So bad at times, for example, Monday night dropped 6 calls within 5 minutes. Ironically, all were to ATT to complain about the coverage or lack thereof.

    ATT is great in city centers and densely populated areas but once you get outside of "city limits" the coverage seems to drop significantly and rapidly. At least from my experiences.

    Improved antenna design does not seem to do crap. My wife (has the 4) doesn't seem to get any worse reception than I do.

    Not disappointed in the phone, not really any worse reception wise than my 3GS. However, ATT has not seemed to fix any real issues with their network, particularly in the areas I frequent.
  7. macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2003
    It seems a shame to be dismissive of contributions from which there may be much to learn, simply because they don't conform to the conclusion you expect to be able to draw. The fact is that in many areas, particularly outside the major metropolitan population centers, AT&T's build out of 3G service was painfully slow and has resulted in degraded (voice) services compared to Edge. However good the cellphone might be, if service being provided to it is poor, the device will perform poorly. No amount of stunning antenna implementation can improve on a service that is of low-grade to begin with.

    That is certainly the clear conclusion from the area I live, where 3G service only came well into the lifespan of the 3GS, and results in calls that often sound like they're being made from the bottom of a leaky bucket, and where a call can drop even when showing 5 bars of service.

    To some extent it is reasonable to assume there are some issues with phones due to antenna performance and power-saving algorithms, but predominantly, phone performance is, in my experience, limited by how bad AT&T service tends to be away from their large profit centers.
  8. macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    It's not AT&T that's the problem it's been the iPhones poor antenna and lack of willingness to stop playing the victim and blaming AT&T.

    Proof? When carrying both my iPhone & work issued BlackBerry whenever my iPhone would fail to connect or frequently drop, I'd simply use my BlackBerry without any issues. Those without another phone to compare to would buy into Apples finger pointing at AT&T.

    iFixit just disassembled a 4S to find a new baseband processor along with what Apple admits is a greatly improved antenna. As a result we now have an iPhone that works as a phone.
  9. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Just a link to the 4s tear down: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone-4S-Teardown/6610/1
  10. macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2010
    Carnegie and Ontario
    I live in Broadview Heights, a little southwest from where you are, and get full HSPA+ almost everywhere. I work in Walton Hills, a little southeast of Maple Heights, and get moderate 3G coverage indoors, but once I step outside, I'm back to full reception.

    Now, there are some dead areas between there, and up in Garfield Heights where I frequent, there is considerably and noticeably poorer coverage for AT&T. Also, I've noticed that right when you leave or approach the Cuyahoga county line, the reception drops off until you arrive at another more densely populated area like Akron or Toledo or Sandusky. The few times I've been out to Geauga I've also had terrible reception. I cannot imagine actually living there. x_x
  11. macrumors 68000


    Jun 16, 2009
    Windermere, FL
    Yes, it has improved quite a bit. I normally used to drop a minimum of 1 call per day, usually more, on my iPhone 4 (and 3GS during the limited time I had it while down here). Haven't dropped any since getting the 4S.
  12. macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2006
    I've been on AT&T since the day the 3GS released and I can say I've never had any reception problems.


    No problems at all
  13. macrumors member

    Jun 26, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    For me, reliability remains the same, which is to say, still no problems whatsoever.
  14. macrumors member

    Oct 6, 2011
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A334 Safari/7534.48.3)

    I noticed yesterday that I havent had any dropped calls since I upgraded from my ip4 even in areas that are typically dead zones like going from Louisiana to Texas on I20
  15. macrumors newbie

    Oct 4, 2011
    I work in downtown San Francisco. On my 3GS, almost everyday like clockwork, I would get No Signal or Searching around lunchtime. With the 4S, I still have bars and a 3G symbol at lunchtime, but when I try to make a call, I get the Call Failed message. I usually have to try three or four times in a row before it connects. I'm returning the At&t 4S and moving to Verizon.
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2009
    Sunny Diego
    I have good AT&T signal here in San Diego but when I'm in my room that's when I drop calls/low signal..but it happens all the time I think it's just my room that's a dead spot
  17. macrumors 68030


    Sep 8, 2011
    Eureka Springs, Arkansas
    AT&T reliability has improved, but I don't have a 4S yet :eek: still have my iPhone 4 until next month.

    However the network build-out over the last couple of years has been phenomenal. Very good service here in the Ozark Mountains, only time I drop a call is when I drop down into some deep "hollers". Not to mention when we finally got 3G last year, didn't affect voice one way or the other but decent data (3Mbps).
  18. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Interesting, but not directly relevant to the conversation. Trying to ascertain if the 4s two hardware changes are improving the reception quality.
  19. macrumors regular

    Oct 7, 2011
    1) Lots of dropped calls from my 3GS, zero so far on my 4S - much better internet experience over-all
    2) Near San Antonio, TX
    3) 3GS

    All on AT&T
  20. macrumors 68030


    Jun 28, 2007
    Nice thread

    It's helpful to see information like this from previous iPhone 3GS owners, with AT&T reception problems who moved up to the 4S. I'm clearly in this category and will report back after getting my 4S in a few days.
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2009
    i had one or 2 dropped calls so far on my 4s but comparing to the iPhone 4 i had dozens but i was hoping to get 4 bars gurenteed but i get like 2 or 3 strong.
  22. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Hmm, it seems like the 4s really is getting better results!
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2010
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 4, 2010
    Long Island, NY
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A334 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Everything from wifi to 3G to Call Quality and stability....works like a charm!
  25. thread starter macrumors 65816

    Feb 11, 2007
    Details? Location etc?

    Compared to the iphone 4 or 3GS?

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