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iPhone 3G Complaints Include Weak Batteries, Safari Crashes, Dead Pixels

Obsessed users are sure to spot even minor imperfections, but the wide spectrum of problems suggests Apple may have quality control issues with its newest gadget.
Apple formally introduced its iPhone 3G five days ago -- more than enough time for fanatical tech fans to discover that the widely hyped mobile device is far from perfect.

Complaints on Apple's iPhone 3G support forum are running a wide gamut, from reports of dead areas on the phone's display, to gripes about short-lived batteries and frequent crashes of Apple's Safari Web browser.

The iPhone 3G's battery life, or lack thereof, may be the hottest topic. One thread that's devoted to the subject has drawn more than 1,000 views in just days. "My phone gets hot, takes 4 to 6 hours to charge and runs down, when left in standby, in about 5 or 6 hours," wrote support forum user "Nicholas Dawes" in a post Tuesday on the forum.

"Compared to the first generation, I had 3 hours of less productivity" due to the iPhone 3G's battery-gobbling appetite, said user "MacBook It Works." The iPhone 3G's push e-mail feature is getting much of the blame for the short battery life, and many users suggest turning it off to conserve power.

Oddly, some users also reported snags with Apple's own Safari Web browser on the iPhone 3G. "Quite frequently when using Safari I am taken back to the home screen," noted "110FourMurphys," on Monday. "Safari has suddenly started to freeze up following download of AIM app," reported user "QuinlanT."

The iPhone 3G's screen has not escaped scrutiny. Many buyers have complained that not all of the pixels on their device's 480 x 320 display light up when they're supposed to. "There is definitely a dead pixel in the upper left quadrant," claimed support forum user "Gilmoro." Others reported similar troubles.

Buyers of Apple's new iPhone 3G are also complaining that, unlike the original version, the device can't be used with many of the pricey charging stations, sound docks, and other accessories they had bought previously for their iPods.

Given the level of obsession surrounding the iPhone 3G, it's unlikely that even slight imperfections will go unnoticed, especially by those users who waited for hours in line to purchase one. One owner even griped that the phone doesn't vibrate to his liking -- but only when it's held upside down. "Seems like it's somewhat rattling," wrote "ScottyH1981."

Still, the sheer number of complaints, covering a wide range of issues, suggests that Apple's iPhone unit is suffering from quality-control issues. In addition to problems with the device itself, activation glitches on Friday forced thousands of users to wait hours longer than necessary to get their iPhone 3Gs online.

The iPhone 3G officially debuted Friday amid long lines at most Apple stores around the country. The cheapest model costs $199 and features download speeds that are more than twice as fast as the original version. If it all works properly, that is. AT&T is the exclusive network provider for the new phone.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing