Amid Cheers, Three iPhone 3GS Concerns Surface

AT&T, lackluster battery life and zero enterprise support raise iPhone owners' ire.

Despite a few iPhone lemons in the market, including a couple of iPhones and an iPod Touch that reportedly exploded in Europe, the vast majority of iPhone 3GS owners love their new phones. According to a survey by RBC/IQ ChangeWave, 99 percent of 200 respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their iPhone 3GS.

Apple has always had a loyal following. Indeed, the American Customer Satisfaction Index released this week its customer satisfaction scores, and Apple still ranks above its competitors (although Apple's traditionally high ratings slipped a point from the prior year). But RBC/IQ ChangeWave's 99 percent satisfaction rate for the iPhone is especially impressive given recent complaints about the iPhone and Apple itself.

[ Are you carrying an iPhone lemon? Discover tips on how to breathe life into your iPhone battery, reports CIO.com ]

Anecdotal evidence, for instance, strongly suggests some iPhones overheat. Apple's own user discussion boards have been filling up with consumer complaints over the iPhone 3GS battery life. Then there's a growing number of iPhone developers who cry foul over Apple's draconian policies for green-lighting apps made for the smartphone. For example, critics continue to bash Apple for taking the Google Voice iPhone app off its virtual App Store shelves.

In a few of the more bizarre cases, Apple began looking into reports of exploding iPhones and iPods following a query by the European Commission directorate that oversees consumer safety.

Yet the Apple faithful remain intact. RBC/IQ ChangeWave's 99 percent iPhone 3GS satisfaction rate improves upon satisfaction rates for the last two iPhones, which had low 70s percentages. The iPhone's most liked feature, of course, was the touchscreen interface. Another interesting survey finding: More than half of the respondents migrated from other devices such as Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Sanyo and Palm.

That's not to say that respondents didn't have any gripes:

The biggest complaint concerns the much-maligned AT&T network, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone. There are many reasons why iPhone owners hate AT&T. Among them, AT&T does not support MMS and tethering even though its competitors do. The company has also been criticized for high prices and spotty coverage.

Another complaint is that the iPhone battery life is too short. Apple had touted improvements to the iPhone 3GS battery at its Worldwide Developers Conference: The iPhone 3GS would deliver 9 hours of use on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback and 30 hours of music on a single charge—about a 30 percent upgrade to the iPhone 3G. But this hasn't been the case for some iPhone 3GS owners.

(There are ways, however, to get more juice out of your iPhone battery. For instance, you can disable power-hungry features, purchase a battery pack, or get it tested at an Apple Store to see if your iPhone is a lemon.)

The last complaint in the survey is that an iPhone owner's company often doesn't support the product. Thus, many people are forced to carry two mobile devices: an iPhone for personal use and, say, a BlackBerry for work. The iPhone 3GS does showcase security improvements over its predecessors—such as its remote data wipe and hardware-based encryption. Yet it still lacks key enterprise features, such as remote management capabilities.

On the upside, there are signs that IT departments are warming to the iPhone. Last spring Forrester surveyed some 300 North American companies about their mobile support policies. More than half of enterprises already support more than one mobile device—mostly BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones. Yet the iPhone is coming on strong, with nearly one out of four enterprises supporting the popular smartphone.

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer at CIO.com? Send him an email at tkaneshige@cio.com. Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline.

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