A couple of Swedish scientists at a company that sells test chamber facilities for wireless devices decided to put the iPhone 3G's antenna to the test, in the light of the phone's supposed connectivity issues. Their verdict: "the values are completely normal." In other words, it compares very well with the antenna strength in both transmit and receive modes with a Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson P1 that the guys tested out under the same conditions. They even checked out whether using the iPhone's other wireless functions conflicted with the phone antenna (which can sometimes happen) and found it to be fine under these conditions too. Good news. If there is an issue with the 3G performance, it doesn't seem to be coming from the antenna. [Goteborgs-Posten Thanks, Kalle!]
It's not AT&T. I live in Austin, TX and my phone behaves completely different than other 3G phones on the same network. If it were the network, both phones would have an issue.
It's not America only. apple.com's discussions, and howardforums.com's posts have complaints in almost every country that sells the iPhone 3G. Understand, most complaints are english-based, giving no public avenues for those that don't know English (or giving us English-only people no avenue to know about complaints in other countries).
Saying that the reception and transmission of the device is good is a good sign. It eliminates one potential hardware issue that would almost certainly require a recall. If the chip has an issue that isn't fixable via software update, then that's a problem.
Also, they tested one phone. If this is a manufacturing defect, not all phones would be effected. They might have tested a 'good' phone. I'd love to know the first 5 digits of the phone's serial number. It shows the factory it was made in, and the year and build week. Most original iPhones are build week 20-something.