A freaky Friday for our iPhone 3G

After avoiding every iPhone 3G woe for a few weeks, today our phone got the quite a wallop. Apple, fix these issues now.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read

With tales of iPhone 3G horror abounding on the Web, I figured I was just lucky.

Since Apple loaned CNET an iPhone 3G just over a month ago, I had experienced none of the problems that have plagued so many other users. I didn't have dropped calls or buggy software, and my iPhone wasn't cracking around the edges. Sure, the 3G connection was a bit shaky, and the battery life suffered during a day of heavy use, but on the whole my handset was doing just what it was supposed to do.

Uh-oh, it's the dreaded white screen of death. Kent German/CNET Networks

That is, until today. Since I only got the iPhone back from the CNET Labs just this week--I'm convinced Eric Franklin was getting back at me for being cold-blooded--I had to wait until today to get the latest 2.0.1 software update.

After connecting the phone to iTunes and accepting the update, all was proceeding normally until suddenly, disaster struck. iTunes informed me that it was unable to complete the update because of an "unknown error" and my iPhone froze with the "connect to iTunes" prompt on the screen. Ouch...that was unexpected, particularly since I had updated CNET's first-generation iPhone moments before. But thinking it could just be a one-time quirk I tried a factory restore, reconnected the phone to iTunes in recovery mode, and accepted the update again. But alas, disaster struck a second time.

Though thoughts of doom began to flood my mind, I took the advice of my very knowledgeable colleague over at iPhone Atlas and tried the update a third time. And that's when Murphy's Law hit me over the head with a mallet. Not only did the "unknown error" flash across my computer screen again, but also my iPhone snowed over with the "white Apple logo screen of death."

Any screen of death, be it blue or white, is not fun as now it looks like a trip to the Apple store is in order. I was able to clear the screen with another restore, but now my iPhone won't get past the pesky iTunes prompt. It may not be bricked, but it might as well be.

It's more than clear, Cupertino, that we have a problem. I'm hardly the only one to experience this problem, as message boards across the Internet can attest. But so far, Apple has remained silent on this issue, not to mention the mounting reports of 3G reception problems and dropped calls. AT&T is denying responsibility, but the fact the user complaints are coming from outside the United Statesseems to support the theory that there is an issue with the phone.

Analysts and researchers have pointed to probable causes, from the Infineon chipset to a lack of 3G sensitivity, but so far iPhone users have been left to fend for themselves. And that's just shameful. According to a Business Week story, a software update to fix the reception problems is on the way. But until I hear anything officially, I consider it hearsay.

Apple, it goes without saying that you should fix these issues soon. But in the meantime, it would be nice if you could discuss them at all--even if it is a simple "we're working on it." I'm certain that even the very acknowledgment that something is afoot would put a lot of minds at ease. And AT&T, you should chime in as well. My iPhone is a free loaner so I deserve nothing. But there are plenty of people who paid a lot of money for your product. And they deserve better.

Have you been struck with the iTunes "white screen of death"? Leave a comment to let us know.