It’s been a little more than a month since the Apple iPhone 3G hit the street and users are complaining about one of its biggest selling features: speed. The phone is supposed to operate on a third-generation network, a major upgrade from other networks the iPhone operates on and an even bigger advance over the older Edge network. Unfortunately, 3G iPhone users are finding that their shiny new piece of hardware isn’t all roses and faster downloads. One analyst believes the perpetrator of the problem is an Infineon chip.

The iPhone 3G sold more than 1 million units in its first weekend, based largely on the selling point of a faster network. But like the lines anxious consumers encountered at the Apple store, using the phone is taking longer than expected.

Nomura analyst Richard Windsor believes the complaints that have been cropping up on blogs and Apple’s own Web site point to something more than an isolated incident.

“There are too many instances on iPhone blogs and Apple’s own Web site for it to be coincidence,” he wrote in a report dated Aug. 12.

“Furthermore, it is not just the U.S. but other countries as well,” he also wrote in the report.

The most common complaint is that Internet speeds have been inconsistent, with a 3G network being available sometimes before users slip back onto a slower network such as Edge.

Windsor believes the problem can likely be traced to Infineon, a German chip manufacturer that provides the majority of chips to Apple for the iPhone 3G.

“We believe that these issues are typical of an immature chipset and radio protocol stack where we are almost certain that Infineon is the 3G supplier,” Windsor wrote.

Meanwhile, AT&T;, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., hasn’t been confronted with the problem. In fact, the carrier has had very few complaints.

“This is not something that’s high on our radar screen. It’s not something we’ve had a lot of complaints about,” said AT&T; spokesman Mark Siegel.

A spokesman from Infineon declined to comment.


Jeff Kemp (Golden, CO), jeffkemp.org.