Increase in dropped phone calls with iPhone software 1.1.3

Increase in dropped phone calls with iPhone software 1.1.3

Ben Wilson
3 min read

Several users are reporting a marked increase in dropped phone calls after updating to iPhone software/firmware 1.1.3. The typical symptoms are as follows: signal bars suddenly drop to zero and the display shows "call failed." As soon as the user manually ends the call, the signal strength immediately returns to normal.

As described by one reader:

"Immediately after upgrading to iPhone firmware version 1.1.3, I began to experience a massive increase in the number of dropped calls. I've had to redial someone eight-ten times in a half-hour as a result. Sometimes, the phone won't make it to a minute before dropping the call. The signal appears fine -- 5 bars, out in the open on a clear day -- and then suddenly it drops to nothing for a few seconds and drops the call. Afterward, it picks up 5 bars again, as though it just 'lost' the tower for a minute. I have noticed that it seems to drop signal periodically even when I'm not on the phone, but that isn't very conclusive."

Similar reports are scattered in Apple's Discussion boards, some examples from this thread:

  • "I find that quite often after about 5 to 8 min of talking on my commute to work the call will get dropped, the signal bars drop to 0 and the display show call failed. When I press end call the signal immediately returns to full strength and the phone works normally."
  • "I'm having the same problem with my phone dropping calls. It only happens when I'm in my apartment. I've never had this problem before updating to 1.1.3. "
  • "Calls dropped only occasionally prior to 1.1.3 update, but now its every call over 5 minutes when I'm driving."
Traditional fixes for this issue include:

Reset iPhone In some cases, simply resetting the iPhone can resolve signal strength issues. Hold down the home and sleep buttons simultaneously until you see the white Apple logo, indicating that your iPhone has restarted.

Reset network settings Tap Settings, tap General, tap Reset, tap Reset Network Settings. This will cause your iPhone to restart, and will delete any stored Wi-Fi passwords as well as DNS settings and more. It can resolve signal strength issues in some cases.

Re-seat your SIM card If your iPhone's SIM card is not seated properly, signal strength can suffer. Try re-seating the SIM by pushing a straightened paper clip into the small hole on the top of the device to open the SIM tray, making sure the SIM Card is properly in place, then re-inserting the SIM tray. Also check for debris inside the tray or SIM card slot.

Restore the iPhone Click the Restore button under the Summary tab. Restoring the phone will erase contacts, calendars, photos and other data on the phone (including any third-party applications), but will restore automatically backed-up information including text messages, notes, call history, contact favorites, sound settings, widget settings, etc.

Some users have reported that restoring the iPhone, but not restoring custom settings data from the computer-stored backup alleviates this issue. Note that you'll lose text messages, notes, call history, contact favorites, sound settings, widget settings, etc with this method, though you can restore them anytime by simply doing another restore and choosing to push the backup to the phone.

Dock the phone or just attach a (dangling) USB cable We previously reported that docking the iPhone or attaching it to a host computer via a USB cable (in turn delivering a charge) can boost signal strength dramatically. It's difficult to discern whether the signal is boosted by simply having a cable attached, or whether the power delivered during a charge boosts signal strength. Some readers have found that simply attaching a dangling (not connected to anything) USB cable to the iPhone provides an instant boost in signal strength.

Give the phone a full charge (battery related?) Some evidence indicates that poor signals are a symptom of low battery charges, though this fix may be conflated with the aforementioned: docking the phone or attaching a USB cable.

Exchange for new unit Some users have had success obtaining replacement iPhones for signal strength issues.

Buy a signal booster A few readers have reported success with third-party wireless signal boosters like the $250 zBoost.

If you are experiencing similar issues after the 1.1.3 update, please let us know.