By Scott Kirwin – Resident Nerd
As a techie I should have known better than purchase the iPhone 7 on the Verizon Wireless network the day it was released. But I’d run my old Android unit into the ground with 3 years of heavy use, and the fact that iPhones hold their value better than other phones plus Verizon’s offer to pay $400 for an old iPhone 5 I had hanging around convinced me to make the switch as soon as Apple released their latest sexy beast into the wild.
The phone is sleek and sexy, but after a month of usage in the US and Europe I’d noticed something odd: It avoided connecting to the cell network, and when it did it always took the lowest possible connection. Living in a rural area I’ve learned where the service drop offs were, but leaving the house the iPhone 7 would glide along in my car showing “No Service” or “1x” where past phones pulled in 3g or even 4g/LTE signals. I’d turn off cellular service by switching to Airplane Mode than switch back and bam! I’d have a blazing fast LTE connection – until I was out of range of that tower. Then when my signal was switched towers the service would drop completely or revert to the crawling “1x”. In essence the brand new digital iPhone 7 was failing to do something 20 year old analog cell phones could do: maintain a stable connection between cell towers. It’s fine if you reset your connection and don’t move – like pretending your cell phone is a landline – but if you are traveling any distance be prepared for dropped calls and data connections.
This morning I checked the Internet and discovered I wasn’t the only one suffering from this problem. MacRumors reports, “Affected customers are seeing their LTE connectivity cut out at regular intervals, leaving them stuck with 3G/1X speeds or no signal at all. This can cause calls to disconnect when VoLTE (voice over LTE – the Apple equivalent of VOIP) is in use in addition to interrupting data usage… There appears to be no clear fix for the issue, and customers have been complaining of being routed between Apple and Verizon with neither company offering a solution.”
I called Verizon Wireless and spoke to a tech today. He said that Verizon was aware of the problem and working with Apple to resolve it, but since I was 3 weeks outside of my 2 weeks contract “cooling off period” I was stuck with the phone for the next 2 years.
So those of you considering switching to Apple’s shiny new toy might want to wait to see how this issue shakes out. There are worse options out there. On a recent flight I took the stewardess told all Samsung Galaxy and Note owners to turn off their phones for the duration of the flight due to their propensity to burst into flame.