Friday 24 January 2020

Apple iPhones rank lower than most other handsets in making calls

Comreg’s tests claim that iPhones aren’t as good at connecting to a mobile network as some other handsets. Stock Image: PA
Comreg’s tests claim that iPhones aren’t as good at connecting to a mobile network as some other handsets. Stock Image: PA
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Apple iPhones struggle compared to most other smartphones when it comes to making phone calls, a report from the telecoms regulator claims.

ComReg placed Apple near the bottom on a list of 71 smartphones in coping with transmitting, with most rival brands placed considerably higher.

Only Huawei scored as bad or worse than Apple, with several of its handsets among the bottom-ranked phones according to ComReg's testing.

Comreg's tests claim that iPhones aren't as good at connecting to a mobile network as some other handsets.

Specifically, the regulator says that the iPhone is one of the poorest performers when it comes to the performance of its antenna. This, says the watchdog, is because of the way it "radiates" power.

"Handset transmit performance is determined by measuring the total power radiated by an antenna over a three-dimensional sphere when connected to a transmitter," said Comreg's test results.

"The stronger the connection, the better the experience of the user should be in the quality of mobile voice calls."

Three of the top 10 devices for phone calls were old-fashioned button 'feature phones', with two of them made by Nokia.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 Plus also performed strongly, coming in second place.

Apple's best-performing phone, the iPhone 6S Plus, was ranked mid-table. However, newer iPhone models such as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus finished near the bottom.

The Irish regulator undertook the tests in 2017 to promote better awareness of issues that contribute to dropped calls and poor cellular performance.

"ComReg's overall objective in this project is to gain a greater understanding of the factors that will affect the experience of users of mobile services, in making or receiving voice calls or in streaming data.

"ComReg therefore acquired 71 of the mobile handsets available on the Irish market at the time of the study from various sources on the open market which it measured, in order to replicate the mobile user experience."

However, the tests undertaken relate only to voice calls and not data services.

The regulator is to conduct separate tests for access to popular online apps such as Facebook or Whatsapp.

"ComReg will also measure the performance of all new makes and models of mobile handsets that become available on the Irish market on a regular and ongoing basis, for voice and data, and those measurements will also be published as they become available," said its statement.

Phone manufacturers dispute the results of ComReg's tests, arguing the regulator's measurement system - which is based on radiation emissions in a specially sealed chamber - does not fully replicate real life conditions. However, the regulator says its tests were conducted in accordance with methodologies set by international bodies such as the Cellular Telephone Industries Association.

It also claims the results are "broadly in line" with comparable measurements produced by Denmark's Aalborg University.

Nevertheless, the watchdog admitted that it didn't take the phones outside, where other factors might interfere in the testing process.

A Government task force says that the results of the testing should now be "available at point of sale" in shops and on retail websites.

The data comes as ComReg and the Government prepare a national mobile reception coverage map around Ireland.

A free app will allow people who aren't getting proper coverage to report exact locations of poor reception, which will then be publicly incorporated into the coverage map.

The move is being introduced as rural phone users continue to complain about persistently poor coverage in sections of the country.

"By the end of this year, we will have a mobile phone coverage map available," Communications Minister Denis Naughten told the Irish Independent previously.

Irish Independent

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