Last weekend, I finally bit the bullet and picked up a new HTC HD2. Make no mistake, this is a spectacular piece of hardware, but sadly, I still find myself chasing connection issues. I’ll share some thoughts on the rest of the phone later if I end up keeping it, but right now, I want to detail my signal strength problems. I’ll continue to update this post as the fun and games ensues, so if I (or T-Mobile) manage to fix the problem, this post will show the resolution, and if not, you’ll be able to see why I left. All of the observations here, unless otherwise indicated, occured in exactly the same spot in Columbus, Ohio, near the OSU campus (ie, not while moving around).
- Bought the phone, took it home, charged it, and powered on. No data connection. It turns out that the upgrade to 3G takes a while to provision.
- Signal bounces around all day. Full-strength Edge, then nothing, then 3G, then nothing, then no connection at all. This goes on most of the day, with almost all day spent on Edge only (no 3G).
- In the evening, I got a good 3G signal, and the phone worked great.
- Slightly better luck with 3G, but not by much.
- I talked to a couple people who said they tried to call me several times — the phone never rang, and didn’t show any missed calls.
- Noticed the same problems. Signal really bouncing in the morning.
- Called T-Mobile customer care at around 11:45. Rep advised me to power off and back on a couple minutes later, and asked if I could call from another line (I can’t).
- Immediately upon powering up, here’s what I saw:
- 11:57 – 3G w/ 2 bars.
- 11:58 – Edge w/ 3 bars.
- 12:00 – no service (I was trying to dial voice mail).
- 12:00 – Edge w/ 4 bars (after I stopped trying to dial VM).
- 12:01 – no service (as soon as I dialed VM).
- 12:20 – 3G w/ 3 bars.
- 12:20 – Call to VM fails.
- 12:22 – 3G w/ 2 bars.
- 12:22 – Call to VM fails.
- 12:24 – Call to VM fails. “Phone operation failed” message. Immediately saw Edge w/ 4 bars, then no signal.
- 12:26 – Finally completed a call to VM.
- 12:27 – no service.
- 12:28 – no service – unable to place call.
- 12:30 – placed call – it worked!
- 12:39 – Edge w/ 4 bars. As a side-effect of the connection-hunting, my battery is down to 57% – I noticed this sort of decreased battery life when my Wing was connection-hunting, too. Done troubleshooting for now – my lunch is over.
(watch below for more updates)
Wednesday, 3/31 (continued)
- 1:27 – 3G / 2 bars. Tried to update twitter client – “There was a connection error while attempting to download tweets.”
- 1:47 – Edge / 4 bars. Browser fails; twitter fails.
- 1:57 – no service.
- 2:05 – no service.
- 2:06 – 4 bars, no data service indicated.
- 2:07 – no service.
- 2:10 – Edge / 4 bars. Changed to no service as soon as I tried to update twitter.
- 2:11 – power off.
- 2:18 – power on.
- 2:23 – no service. Tried calling voice mail – call failed.
- 2:25 – Edge / 4 bars, then right back to no service.
- 2:28 – 3G / 2 bars. Twitter update works.
- 2:32 – 3G / 3 bars.
- 2:38 – 3G / 3 bars.
- 2:51 – 3G / 2 bars.
- 3:17 – 3G / 2 bars.
- 4:16 – 3G / 2 bars, but got email error on send-receive. Browser worked.
- I also found out at about this time that people had tried calling me and hadn’t been able to reach me (and didn’t leave a voice mail). My phone never rang, and it didn’t show any missed calls.
- I stopped into the T-Mobile store where I bought the phone and shared my experience thus far. The guy I talked to there was very cordial – he called up customer service and they decided together to try replacing my SIM card.
- Day 5 with the phone; day two of keeping a service log.
- 8:22 – 3G / 3 bars.
- 9:36 – 3G / 2 bars. Twitter fails.
- 9:39 – Edge / 4 bars. Twitter fails.
- 9:41 – No service.
- 10:00 – 3G / 2 bars.
- 10:29 – 3G / 1 bar. Twitter ok.
- 11:11 – 3G / 1 bar. Twitter fails; browser ok.
- 1:42 – “G” / 4 bars. What’s “G”? Twitter fails; browser ok.
- 4:20 – 3G / 2 bars. Twitter fails; browser fails.
- 4:25 – “G” / 4 bars. Browser works; twitter fails.
- 4:27 – No service.
- 4:35 – Got a voice mail notification, but my phone never rang.
- I’m starting to appreciate how much voice service is affected — this isn’t just a data problem. I saw intermittent data service from time to time on my old phone in this location, but I rarely had problems with voice service. It’s becoming clear, though that right now, my brand-new flagship HTC HD2 is performing substantially worse than a three-year-old Wing after I ran the Wing over in my car.
- 10:23 – 3G / 2 bars. Browser fails; foursquare fails; twitter fails.
- 10:26 – 3G / 1 bar. Twitter works; foursquare fails.
- 10:27 – 3G / 1 bar. Browser fails; foursquare fails.
- 10:31 – 3G / 1 bar. Browser fails.
- 10:33 – 3G / 2 bars. Call to VM fails.
- 10:34 – 3G / 2 bars. Browser fails.
- 10:35 – 3G / 2 bars. Call to VM fails.
- 10:43 – 3G / 2 bars. Call to VM fails.
- 10:48 – 3G / 4 bars. Call to VM works; browser fails.
- 10:49 – No service.
- Somewhere around 2:30 – received VM notification. Phone never rang, and no missed calls are shown.
- 2:51 – 3G / 1 bar. Call to VM fails.
- 2:55 – 3G / 2 bars. Call to VM works.
- 3:38 – 3G / 3 bars. Call to VM fails. Browser fails.
- 4:22 – Tried changing 3G settings to HSDPA only. Phone off.
- 4:32 – Restart – now running HSDPA only. Call to VM – “Phone operation failed”.
- 4:49 – No service. VM failed. Tried to call my number w/ Google voice – failed.
- 4:51 – Back to default 3G setting (HSDPA / HSUPA).
- 4:54 – VM fails.
- 4:55 – 3G / 2 bars. Google voice call works.
- Stopped into a T-Mobile store near my house. The assistant manager there told me I needed to go back to the store where I bought the phone for help.
- Back to the store where I bought the phone. Talked to the same guy I’d spoken with on Wednesday night. He’s going to try swapping this phone out with a new one as soon as they get a shipment in. I expect to hear from him on Tuesday.
- 9:16 – Incoming call test (Google voice) works.
- 9:27 – VM fails.
- 9:32 – Today, I have my backup phone with me. This is a $20 Nokia prepaid candybar phone I picked up at Wal-Mart while my Wing was out of service. I swapped my sim into this phone and fired it up. I see 5 bars and I can call VM.
- 9:43 – VM works on the Nokia.
- 11:17 – Chat w/ T-Mobile customer care rep to bring them up to speed. The rep said they were issuing a ticket to have engineering look at the problem. They should have an update in “24 to 72 hours.”
- 9:50 – VM fails.
- 10:14 – VM fails.
- 10:16 – VM fails.
- 10:17 – Power down, sim moved to $20 Wal-Mart phone.
- 10:18 – Nokia shows 4 bars, call to VM works, Google voice can call the Nokia phone just fine. There’s a T-Mobile signal here, for sure.
- 1:52 – Sim back in HD2. Showing no signal. VM fails.
- 1:55 – Sim in Nokia. Five bars. VM works. Considering strapping the Nokia onto the back of the HD2 with a couple of rubber bands. Give me the HD2 with the radio on the Nokia, and I’d be a happy man.
- 4:30 – Called back in to T-Mobile customer support to check on the status of the ticket I opened yesterday. There was no engineering update yet, but the customer service rep got a technician on the line to see if he could help. He asked if I could use WiFi to call (no), and if I’d tried manual network selection (I hadn’t yet). I’ll play with manual settings a bit tomorrow to see if I can see any difference.
- During the customer service call, one of the people I talked to tried to tell me that T-Mobile wasn’t aware of any problems like this with the HD2. I’ve started adding links at the end of this article to forum posts where other people have indicated problems.
- I did not hear from the guy at the T-Mobile store who told me he’d be calling me today.
- 9:05 – Incoming call test works (via Google Voice).
- Checked manual network selection – only one available network listed – “T-Mobile”, so I left the selection on “manual”.
- 10:43 – Google Voice fails to reach my phone.
- 10:44 – VM works; Google Voice fails.
- 10:45 – Tried selecting “Terminate Data Connection” on shutdown screen.
- 10:46 – Google Voice fails; VM fails.
- 10:48 – Sim card in Nokia. Immediate VM notification from previous Google Voice connection, and VM works just fine. Showing four bars.
- Still no call from local T-Mobile store.
- 8:55 – Incoming call test works (via Google Voice).
- 9:06 – No service.
- 9:07 – Manual network selection shows three networks: “T-Mobile”, “T-Mobile”, and “AT&T”. Chose the first “T-Mobile” network. No service shown.
- 9:08 – Manual network selection again. This time, searching takes a long time (over a minute) and comes up with same list. I chose the second “T-Mobile” entry. Signal shows four bars / no data service indicated.
- 9:12 – Tried calling VM – phone popped up the network selection screen showing No Service. Repeated “Find Network”. Signal shows Edge / 4 bars while searching. Searching takes around a minute again. Chose “AT&T”, but got Network error: “Cannot register on selected network.”
- 9:15 – Find network again. Chose first T-Mobile network.
- 9:16 – 3G / 4 bars.
- 9:17 – Before I could even test the great signal (!) above, phone shows no service again. VM fails and pops up the network selection screen.
- 9:18 – 3G / 2 bars. VM fails.
- 9:19 – Back to “automatic” network selection – manual isn’t doing anything to help me.
- 9:20 – 3G / 2 bars. VM fails. Power down – sim is going into the Nokia.
- 9:22 – Nokia shows 4 bars. VM works just fine right off the bat.
- 10:20 – Per thread on T-Mobile forum, I tried changing my TcpWindowSize. In the registry, HKLM/Comm/Tcpip/Parms/TcpWindowSize was set to 65536 (stock). I changed this to 98304 and cycled power.
- 10:26 – First test call to VM was successful.
- 10:28 – VM call – “Phone operation failed.” In the last three minutes, I saw the phone go to “No service”, then to Edge w/ 4 bars, then back to No service, then to 3G w/ 2 bars. A call to voice mail when the phone showed 3G / 2 bars failed immediately.
- 10:32 – Back to default setting for TcpWindowSize. Phone powering off, and sim back in Nokia.
- 11:14 – The guy on the forum who suggested changing the TcpWindowSize thought I didn’t wait long enough for the phone to “go through its cycles”, so I’m trying one more time. TcpWindowSize changed back to 98304 and the phone is powering up.
- 11:15 – Phone is up. No service shown.
- 11:16 – Phone shows Edge / 4 bars. Before I could try a call, it’s back to no service.
- 11:17 – No service.
- 11:18 – No service. Are we still “going through cycles?”
- 11:19 – No service. Tried a call to VM anyway. Call connected, and the phone immediately showed 4 bars, no data connection. WTF??
- 11:20 – Edge / 4 bars. Tried Google Voice call – it connected.
- 11:21 – No service. Call to VM fails.
- 11:22 – Edge / 4 bars, then no service a second later. Google Voice call fails. VM fails.
- 11:24 – No service. VM fails.
- 11:25 – No service, then 4 bars / no data service. VM indication received from failed Google Voice call.
- 11:26 – VM works.
- 11:27 – Five bars / no data service.
- 11:28 – No service. VM fails.
- 11:29 – One bar / no data service, then 3G / 1 bar.
- 11:30 – 3G / 1 bar. VM fails. TcpWindowSize reset, power down, sim back in Nokia.
- Obviously, I haven’t updated for a while, but things have been pretty much working the same as I’ve observed to this point. I received two glimpses of hope today, though: I got an email from HTC indicating that they’re looking into the problem (I originally contacted them back on April 9). I also heard from the store where I bought my phone — they’ve finally gotten new stock in, and I’m cleared to go and exchange my handset to see if new hardware helps. Maybe there’s hope, yet.
So, who else is seeing problems? As indicated earlier, T-Mobile seems not to be aware that this is a widespread issue with the HD2, so I’m going to try to do my part here to collect observations from other people. These are links to other places where I’ve seen people complain about similar problems:
- http://forums.t-mobile.com/t5/HTC-HD2/Connection-signal-problems/td-p/347659 (mine).
[update – 5/20/2010]
It’s been a while since I’ve updated my status here, so I thought I’d add a few notes about how things are playing out. I swapped handsets back on April 20. This had very little effect on performance, though I saw a slight placebo effect for a couple days, I think. Interestingly, I’d seen a couple of forum posts from people who talked about two hardware versions of the phone, where the earliest phones had red reset buttons, and later ones had yellow. I can confirm that the first phone I had did, indeed have a red reset button, and the replacement phone (my current phone) has a yellow button. Beyond the color of the button, I can discern no difference in the phones whatsoever, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t internal differences that I can’t see.
Over the course of several weeks, I’ve seen marginal improvements that appear unrelated to anything I’m doing on the phone, so I attribute these to network tuning on T-Mobile’s part.
The other big event has been HTC’s (followed by T-Mobile’s) release of a new firmware ROM (and radio ROM) for this phone. I’m now running the 2.13 ROM with 2.10 radio ROM, and I’m seeing slightly better performance again. At this point, I believe that voice connectivity is back close to the level of my old T-Mobile Wing, which is the minimum bar I wanted to see. Data connectivity is still a little hit-and-miss, but it’s better than when I got the phone, and in a lot of locations, it’s quite good. I still maintain that when the phone and network are working right, this is a really nice device.
I’ve decided to look into writing an application to log cell tower connections in a way that will let me see if I’m switching towers when I’m sitting still. I believe this is the cause of the “signal hunting” I’ve seen, and I’d like to be able to provide some good information to HTC. I’ve received a couple more contacts from HTC about this. They’ve really been pretty good about following up on things, considering the fact that T-Mobile is really supposed to be taking the lead on customer care. In any event, I think that if I can generate some reliable data for them, HTC will put it to good use.