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Orange rated the worst network by iPhone users, 3 the best

Orange iPhone users aren't happy, according to new research, with network and connection problems making many consider leaving for other operators.

Orange spends a fortune telling you to turn off your phone during a movie, but new customer research suggests it should probably put a little more focus on its iPhone services.

The company was rated the lowest in terms of customer satisfaction for iPhone users, with 15 per cent planning to move to a different network, according to YouGov's iPhone iTrack study. This didn't compare well to O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile and 3, which came out on top.

The survey dug into the reasons why iPhone users wanted to move from Orange, and it seemed to be around network, connection and service problems. Of the Orange users who wanted to leave, six out of ten believed they could receive better network coverage elsewhere.

Nearly half (46 per cent) said they knew they could find a better connection from a different network, while 39 per cent said they were sure they could find a more reliable service. Three out of ten said Orange was expensive, but they'll be disappointed to find tariffs on other networks aren't that much cheaper.

It was much better news for 3, which had the happiest iPhone customers. But 3 had just 98 users taking the iPhone survey as opposed to the 550 Orange customers, so it's hardly representative. It was also good news for Vodafone, with 22 per cent of iPhone users who wanted to leave their operators planning to switch to the red network, the highest percentage.

Everything Everywhere might give Orange hope. This tie-up merges Orange and T-Mobile into one company, which means they now have the ability to share networks. This allows Orange customers to roam on to T-Mobile's network, and vice versa, with switching to become automatic in early 2011.

Unfortunately, T-Mobile didn't fare that much better than Orange in the opinion of iPhone users, as it was worst for two measures of quality and had the lowest recommendation rating of all the networks.

The iPhone remains a massively popular device, with the iPhone 4 doing big business, even with its well documented antenna problems. But you can imagine some Orange customers being particularly put out this year, especially if they were left-handed.

But if you don't have an iPhone and have been thinking about buying one for Christmas, you may soon have the option of looking particularly flash and buying the fabled white model (pictured above). There's now a reservation option for a white 16GB or 32GB model through its Apple Store app for iOS, according to SlashGear. Right now though, it doesn't work.

Do you have any iPhone network horror stories? Does Orange deserve this bashing? Is 3 really that good? Let us know.