iPhone reception: 3GS vs. 5 in AT&T? Esp. Bay Area experiences welcome

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by mike1mike2mike3, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. mike1mike2mike3 macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2008
    Will I notice a difference in voice reception, coverage and reliability with an AT&T iPhone 5 compared to my current AT&T 3GS?

    I'm facing a choice perhaps others are too: I have been using AT&T (unhappily) for a few years with my 3GS. I absolutely detest the voice service - crappy quality, dropped calls, long connection times, etc etc.

    However, I do like to multi-task (esp talking while driving and have maps work for directions!), and I'm grandfathered in to the unlimited data plan.

    If voice service will be the same as it is for me now, however, I'm bailing to Verizon (no land line and sick of AT&T voice).

    Would love to hear your experiences - will the 5 improve my service?

    I live in Berkeley, so Bay Area performance is important.

  2. jlake02 macrumors 68020


    Nov 2, 2008
    The voice quality (audio) is better with the i5 but if your signal is crappy you won't see much improvement.
  3. Skyjacker07 macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2011
    I'm not anywhere near your area, but in OK where I live my call quality is greatly improved from my 4s to a 5, I would loose service in my house on the 4s, but now I have full bars.
  4. mike1mike2mike3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2008
    thanks. Sounds like there is some promise, but I might need to just try it?

    Other experiences? Really wary of AT&T but it does make sense on other levesl to stay with them...
  5. akonikui macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2007
    I've noticed much better service with the iPhone 5 in the bay area. The LTE is awesome. I'm on the peninsula now.

    That said, ATT is horrible in Berkeley. Used to live there and reception was always spotty and data was slow. Verizon is much better in the East Bay.
  6. mike1mike2mike3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2008
    Interesting observation. I see that the number of towers in E Bay is dramatically different between teh two carriers, FWIW. Thanks!
  7. KeepCalmPeople macrumors 65816


    Sep 5, 2012
    San Francisco Bay Area, California
    I don't have a 3GS or 5, but I will say the reception on my 4S in Concord is crappy at my home, despite the AT&T coverage maps showing Concord as blanketed in 'best' coverage. My signal fluctuates from No Service to 1 or 2 bars of 4G, with time spent on 1 or 2 bars of Edge. My calls always seem to drop when I have an important call...

    I just picked up a 3G Microcell this morning for my home. Just had to pay sales tax as I complained at length to AT&T.
  8. mike1mike2mike3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2008
    Yes, exactly!
  9. sou1 so1di3r macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Jun 26, 2008
    Denver, CO
    voice quality from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 on AT&T is noticeably better.

    granted I'm in the midwest, but I was pleasantly surprised. I can actually hear my girlfriend loud and clear now on the phone when before I would always have to ask her to repeat herself!
  10. Jtern macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2012
    Short end of the signal stick

    Call quality overall definitely better from what I can remember. My 4 and 4s did get better signal, reception, and Internet speeds than my 5. Live in Oakland, closest tower is in Berkeley from what speedtest tells me. Work in sf and get 4-5 bars out there but at home it's 4g or 1-3 bars of lte
  11. bidwalj macrumors 65816

    Feb 16, 2007
    The 3GS and the new 5 have the same bands for voice. The dropped calls, poor quality are all network issues. You won't really see a difference there. Lte uses a different network but currently doesn't carry voice.
  12. mike1mike2mike3 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2008
    This is interesting. How to square this with reports of better phone service on newer phones?

    I'm inclined at this point, to go verizon given the doubts raised here and elsewhere. Any opinions to the contrary?

  13. pure3d2 macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2012
    I wouldn't give up the UDP at AT&T to join Verizon even though I'm a Verizon customer. Their Share Everything plans are a total ripoff! Seriously, 1 GB for $50?
  14. bidwalj macrumors 65816

    Feb 16, 2007
    Well new hardware means means better call quality as in the speaker and mike. New hardware can't fix what the network lacks. A new sim can sometimes help too as it will have updated tower information.

    Other than that, nothing on the network side will be different for voice. If you get dropped calls now, you likely will have the same network issue.


    I would look into sprint as well. Bay Area lte is ready to launch real soon. Their voice CDMA network is solid and will perform better than AT&T.
  15. erratikmind macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    S.F./Las Vegas

    I have been on the AT&T service for some 25 years, since the Cellular One days. Service for the first 10 years was adequate, but not stellar. I have had no issues with call quality in the past 10 years. For the past 5 years, I have been using the original iPhone. Prior to retiring some 3 years ago, the majority of the iPhone's use was in the S.F. penninsula region. However, some of my business travels did take me throughout the Bay Area.

    Understating the nature of the beast, I can say that the AT&T has been very good for me.

    Recently, like many others, I upgraded to an iP5 on launch day. Thus far, I am quite pleased with call quality, signal strength, and the LTE speed.

    I trust that you find the same experience with whichever carrier you finally opt to go with.

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