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iPhone 4: The Forbidden Grip

Steve Jobs wants to keep you happy by giving you a free case for his company's defective iPhone 4.  (Source: ArsTechnica)
"Phones aren't perfect" -- Steve Jobs

Today at Apple's 1 p.m. EST, 10 a.m. PST press conference, Apple finally formally addressed the iPhone 4's faulty antenna, which its engineers reportedly warned it about last year, but it ignored.  Despite reports claiming that it might initiate a recall, Apple took a hard line, with most of its presentation boiling down to one word -- denial.  But to Apple's credit it is giving users a free bumper case and letting them return their phones for free within 30 days if they're still unhappy.

Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs who infamously told users "You're holding it wrong" took the stage and began by stating, "We're not perfectPhones aren't perfect either... But we want to make all of our users happy.  We love making our users happy.  We're going to talk about how we're going to do that today... but before we get into that I want to talk about the problems and the data we've got so that we can make sure we make all our users happy."

Jobs then turned to a bit of bragging -- a record 3 million iPhone 4s sold in only 3 weeks.  He described it as the best smart phone in history, saying reviews back him up on that.

He then commented, "We started getting some reports of people having issues with the antenna system..People were touching this spot here.  Seeing a large drop in bars... sicne dubbed Antennagate.  We heard about this just 22 days ago from today. It's not like Apple's had its head in the sand for 3 months on this... Apple is an engineering driven company."

He then turned to tests which Apple engineers conducted.  He claims those tests show similar drops in signal, based on hand grip with a Blackberry, the HTC Droid Eris, and the Samsung Omnia 2.  Jobs' conclusion?  "This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren't perfect."

Of course Jobs failed to show a wide variety of smart phones -- such as the HTC EVO 4G, Droid Incredible, etc.

He again reaffirms his stance that users need to be sure to have the correct grip and that the problem is mostly imagined stating, "We went to a lot of trouble to put this beautiful line in the stainless steel to say here's where you touch it everybody... and we had incorrect bars, so when it did drop the drop looked far more catastrophic."

Apple says that its testing to come to this conclusion was extensive.  It spent $100M USD on its signal testing facility, complete with anechoic chambers.  It has hired 18 PhD scientist and engineers (though earlier reports indicate it perhaps wasn't listening to them).

In his presentation, Jobs cites AppleCare numbers which he claims indicate that only 0.55 percent of customers had enough of an issue to contact Apple.  Further, he says that return rates on the iPhone 4 are a miniscule 1.7 percent down from 6 percent (granted maybe some customers were waiting for Apple's response).

Jobs did admit that the iPhone 4 drops more calls that the iPhone 3GS, but claims that it only drops 1 more call per 100 calls than the 3GS hardware -- in other words less than a 1 percent difference.  He claims his inbox has been overflowing with emails telling him how wonderfully the iPhone 4 is working and how great it is.  In fact he claims he received 5,000 such emails.

He concludes by summarizing about the cosmetic "fix" to the number of bars drawn.  And then finally, he tosses customers a bone.  Apple will be giving out a free cases (Apple's own $30 USD newly designed case which reportedly fixes much of the signal problems or similar third party designs).  Until Sept. 30 Apple will give one of the cases to every iPhone 4 purchaser for free.  Customers who already bought a case will be refunded.  And international customers will be eligible for the offer as well.

The proximity sensor issue was also briefly mentioned, and chief Jobs says a software fix is incoming.  He also reminded that the white iPhone 4 will arrive at the end of July and that the iPhone 4 will launch in 17 countries on July 30th, as well.

The conference wraps up with Jobs commenting, "We love our users.  We try very hard to surprise and delight them.. we work our asses off and we have a blast doing it.  What motivates us is to have them love our products.  We also connect them with great apps and content.  We love our users so much we've built 300 apple retail stores for them.  When we fall short we try harder."

"And when we succeed they reward us by staying our users... so that's what drives us. And when we have problems like this and people are criticizing us, we take it really personally. Maybe we shouldn't, but we do.  We all read these stories and we take it seriously.  We think we've gotten to the heart of the problem, and the heart is that smartphones have weak spots. And so for those small number of customers that are having problems, we're going to give them cases, and for those that are still unhappy we're going to give them a full refund.   But the data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world, and that there is no antennagateAnd that's what I had to present to you today."

A class action lawsuit on the problems is pending.

All Mr. Jobs' quotes were taken from this live feed from the company's press conference.

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So to summarise...
By Tony Swash on 7/16/2010 2:52:21 PM , Rating: -1
So to summarise...

a) All smart phone shave the same problem. Seem plausible to me, when this story first developed I googled the issue and found lots of stories, youtube videos, forum comments complaining about exactly the same problem on lots of other phones (ie when you hold the phone in a certain way, especially with weak reception, you get problems and dropped calls). I posted links to all those stories and videos in other comment threads on Daily Tech.

b) No other handset maker has come up with a solution to this problem. I haven't found any after searching quite a bit. Anybody found any handset maker claiming to have a solution?

c) The iPhone 4 seems to generally have better reception according to lots of bloggers, users and journalist testing/reviewing the iPhone 4, but is generating about 1% more complaints about dropped calls caused by the specific issue in question

d) Apple are offering a complete refund on demand, a free case (which should completely solve the problem) and a refund for anyone who has already bought a case.

e) The iPhone has been for less than a month and Apple have offered a comprehensive account of the issue, taken a public Q&A session on it and offered complete refunds or a free case which should solve the problem. Given the time needed for the issue to be raised by users, picked up the media and examined by Apple engineers this seems pretty prompt to me.

All in all it seems a trivial problem to which Apple have responded fast and generously.

I am sure there are plenty here who would disagree with my summary so fire away - but wherever possible facts rather than opinions would be preferred.

PS Notice Job's generous remarks about Google? Olive branch? I don't think Apple want a war with Google even though they will probably win it.

RE: So to summarise...
By MrBlastman on 7/16/2010 3:00:16 PM , Rating: 5

Tony Swash is an i-Zealot. This is not disputable.


Your blathering means nothing to me, when I read your posts all I hear is Charlie Brown's teacher saying: "Mwa waah waa hwaa waaaa waaaa wa."


There is nothing I can say here that can convince you that Apple is possibly an evil company.


Steve Jobs is an egomaniac.


As much as Google bothers me at times, I really hope they throw Apple under the bus. Steve needs no Olive branch, the only mistake we've all made is letting Apple hang on long enough to get a second wind.

RE: So to summarise...
By Maharajamd on 7/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: So to summarise...
By ebakke on 7/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: So to summarise...
By Ard on 7/16/2010 3:09:24 PM , Rating: 5

1. All smartphones suffer from attenuation. No smartphone suffers from the significant (orders of magnitude) amount of attenuation that the iPhone 4 experiences. Bars do NOT tell you anything about your actual signal strength (read: in dB).

2. Irrelevant and a red herring. No other smartphone manufacturer is experiencing the problems inherent to ONLY the iPhone 4.

3. Unqualified statistics don't mean a damn thing. They're simply thrown about to appease the media and fanboys such as yourself.

4. A free refund within 30 days, which, if I'm not mistaken, is already over for anyone who had their phone shipped for them. Funny how the timing worked out on that one. And a free bumper that completely detracts from the aesthetics Apple themselves promoted and does NOTHING to address the underlying issue. Let's not even get into the incompatibility these things have with accessories.

5. Comprehensive by whose standards? They pulled some unqualified stats out their ass, dodged the few meaningful questions actually asked, and did not offer an admission of culpability.

All in all I'd say they completely fucking failed, which is exactly why I'm going to the Verizon store after work. The Droid Incredible and Droid X are speaking to me. It's a bit hazy but I can make out two words: Fuck...Apple.

RE: So to summarise...
By Tony Swash on 7/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: So to summarise...
By chick0n on 7/17/2010 12:57:22 AM , Rating: 1
another iDiot

First thing I wanna say is --- Nexus One's problem was fixable by Software

your GARBAGE iPhone on the other hand, is NOT software fixable.

Simple proof is that my friend and I, both "pick" our phones up at the same time to make a call, his iPhone 4 couldn't. Mine works. So yeah, thats already enough to proof that iPhone 4 is GARBAGE.

Fanboys like u just wouldn't admit you just paid for a shinny piece of shit.

wow offering a rubber band thats like 50 cents? Big-fxking deal. and u think thats cool ? how many will take the offer? a lot of people like freebies. but guess what fanboy, a lot of people actually don't want the Rubber band cuz it looks f-ing retarded. they would rather have drop calls or "holding it wrong" than try to make the phone actually work like a phone. So giving up "looks" for "functionality", typical Apple Fanboylism.

RE: So to summarise...
By themaster08 on 7/17/2010 2:27:03 AM , Rating: 2
The issues with the iPhone do of course receive vastly more coverage in the media but that's because Apple and the iPhone are newsworthy. Remember - trying to work out what is happening in the world by looking at news headlines is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand on a clock.

As far as I can see many phones suffer from the same problem as the iPhone 4 and ten minutes on Google turned this lot up:
So out of tens of thousands of mobile phones ever made, you're able to come up with just 6, of which half of those are not even smartphones.

You just said so yourself why this is such a problem.

Did any of those phones sell by the order of magnitude of the iPhone? - No.

Did any of those phones have the public fanfare and media hype of the iPhone? - No.

Did Apple immediately admit and address the issue with respect towards its consumers? No.

The iPhone has been released for a month, and only now do customers get a so-called "fix".

I would have thought it was probably one of the faster and better responses
Apple knew of this issue before the iPhone 4 was even released. That has already been addressed. What was Apple's immediate solution to all of this? Sell a $30 bumper in the hopes that everyone purchases one and therefore suffers no attenuation issues.

Then when these issue comes to light, Apple are mostly quiet, firstly blaming their signal bar formula, and claiming that only a small number of customers are suffering from this issue.

Apple withdrew ever mounting complaints from their forums instead of addressing those customers to tell them that Apple were working on a fix.

Apple claim to have received 15,000+ complaints due to the antenna. That is 10,000 more than those who emailed Jobs to praise the device. So only 1 in 3 people are happy with their iPhone by that logic. Is that an accurate statistic? Of course not.

Nobody knows an exact figure as to how many customers are suffering from this issue.
only 0.55 percent of customers had enough of an issue to contact Apple
That's no indicator whatsoever. My guess is that most of those people will just bend over and take it.

Yet again, Apple's execution for a fix was absolutely abysmal.

It's always the same thing...

Deny the issue even exists - delete complaints from message boards - finally admit to the issue but water it down and use blanket statements to drift away from the actual problem - finally issue fix and forget that it ever happened.

RE: So to summarise...
By avxo on 7/17/10, Rating: -1
RE: So to summarise...
By dark matter on 7/17/2010 11:42:03 AM , Rating: 5
What is signal strength measured in then? Pecans? Cashews?

It's all very well telling people they are wrong without giving the right answer yourself. Especially when you're wrong anyway.

RE: So to summarise...
By avxo on 7/23/2010 6:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
Signal strength is measured in dBm. Not dB. There is a difference between dB and dBm, just like there is a difference between pecans and cashews (to use your reference).


RE: So to summarise...
By The0ne on 7/21/2010 11:43:08 AM , Rating: 2
And it's for those points that Anand's latest review and excuse for Apple is a failure for me. After that review, I truly had to say fck Anand and Brian. What a pair of dickless aholes testers. That's just for the review they did mind you. Anand needs to come back to the engineering side and re-learn what he needs for his company.

RE: So to summarise...
By Fanon on 7/16/2010 3:38:42 PM , Rating: 2
a) I have no doubt smart phones have similar problems, but the keys are:

1) Naturally holding the iPhone 4 radically drops the signal.
2) Apple knew the design was flawed.
3) Apple ran around in circles instead of saying "Hey, you know what? We screwed up"

b) See answer a1 above. The case of iPhone 4 was very different because holding the phone naturally radically degrades signal strength.

e) Only after they were called on the carpet about it. The usual Apple spin was put in motion and users were told to hold it differently.

This was fast? Really? They knew well before release of the problem. The fact that it has taken this long to get any type of honesty out of Apple (and even then it was spun) is ridiculous. A fast response would've been to offer a free case at launch. This was anything but fast.

RE: So to summarise...
By Helbore on 7/16/2010 3:51:37 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, you actually believe the stuff Steve spews?

It's quite simple really, if this issue was no different than any other smartphone, like he claims, he wouldn't have held this press conference and he wouldn't be giving away stuff he could sell instead.

The fact that he stood up there in the first place and then went ahead and offered stuff for free is all the proof you need to know the rest of his statement was marketing BS designed to deflect as much bad publicity as possible.

Only those who pay so little attention would fall for the "but it's not a big deal," line. The whole situation is enough to prove Apple are admitting to this fault's existence.

RE: So to summarise...
By Ard on 7/16/2010 7:17:19 PM , Rating: 5
You're a waste of time and this will be my last post addressing you, no matter what stupidity spills from your thoughts. Here are the facts:

iPhone 4 - 24.6/19.8 db
iPhone 3GS - 14.3/1.9 db
Nexus One - 17.7/10.7 db

Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale. Let's take the iPhone 3GS vs. iPhone 4 as the example. When gripped, there is a difference of ~10 db in the amount of attenuation the phones experience. Losing 10 db is the equivalent of losing 10x the signal strength. Last time I checked, 10x is an order of magnitude.

It's even worse if you look at the holding naturally comparison. There we're talking about a loss of ~18 db, equivalent to a loss of 63 times the signal strength, rapidly approaching 2 orders of magnitude. The sorry ass phone fares a bit better compared to the Nexus but not by much. The ~7 db difference in attenuation loss is equivalent to a loss of 5x the signal strength and the ~9 db difference is equivalent to a loss of ~8x the signal strength.

I stand by my post. The attenuation the iPhone 4 experiences is exceptionally worse than other phones on the market, approaching and/or exceeding an order of magnitude depending on the comparison.

RE: So to summarise...
By Ard on 7/16/2010 7:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
For whatever reason this reply posted under Helboro. It was meant for Tony Swash, king of Apple fanboys.

RE: So to summarise...
By Tony Swash on 7/16/10, Rating: 0
RE: So to summarise...
By Helbore on 7/17/2010 9:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
No, it really wasn't necessary if there was nothing to address. You make out like its just something that's normal, but it gets massive media coverage just because its Apple. That doesn't really fly with the amount of Apple hardware that doesn't get massive media coverage for tiny defects.

For every article you pull saying it's not a major issue, other people have pulled ten to show that it is. So forgive me for not accepting your evidence over theirs.

Fact remains that if this wasn't an issue and was something that was intrinsic to all phones, Stevie-boy wouldn't be giving away free goods. Face it, he bangs on about how it's only a small issue, all phones have them and they've sold over 3 million iPhone 4s and less than 1% are having a problem - but then goes on to offer free bumpers to every single owner of the iPhone 4.

You don't do that if you don't have to. Businesses don't like flushing money down the toilet. Steve Jobs is not your mate. He isn't about to give you freebies if he could sell you them instead.

He's givng free bumpers to all iPhone 4 owners so that this issue doesn't get spotted by owners who have yet to notice the defect. The longer those recorded instances of this error will crop up and prove that this isn't "sometihng all phones suffer from." That's the only plausible reason to give out free bumpers - because this is a recognised problem that places the device outside of an acceptable operating standard that would make it fit for purpose.

What I don't get is why people defend Steve like he's their best mate. He's not, he's a businessman after your money. He doesn't have your best interests at heart. Of course he's going to lie and big up his own product. That's his job. Why are people like you so blind to that fact? It boggles the mind.

Oh and why do you think those of us who see through Jobs' bull are somehow passionately anti-Apple? Stating a negative aobut a company on a tech-site's message board doesn't make you some pasisonate loon. It just means you are commenting on a story you read.

There's nothing wrong with calling a company to account for its poor practises. Why do Apple fans get their knickers in such a bunch when someone doesn't think that Apple's products are perfect pieces of heaven?

RE: So to summarise...
By KoolAidMan1 on 7/18/2010 6:31:45 AM , Rating: 1
Again I ask why do people who do not intend to buy an iPhone care? It seems perverse. If I did not intend to buy a Toyata I might have an opinion on their product problems and recall but it would be a bit odd if I posted passionately about it. Where would such passion come from. Why does Apple agitate non-Apple buyers so much?

Very simple. Crying about things on internet forums gives some people purpose to an otherwise boring and meaningless existence.

People who expend this much time and energy bashing on Apple products that they do not even own must have sad sad little lives.

RE: So to summarise...
By Helbore on 7/18/2010 10:16:27 AM , Rating: 2
Says the guy who makes no comment about the article, but only bashes posters who's views he disagrees with.

RE: So to summarise...
By KoolAidMan1 on 7/18/2010 5:37:18 PM , Rating: 1
Who said I disagreed with the complaints? My issue is with people who expend so much fanboy energy hating on companies or products that they don't like for whatever reason. You've seen it constantly in pointless XBox 360 vs PS3 debates, you see it in Mac vs PC threads, lots of things.

Again, if you aren't being directly affected by these, and almost none here do judging by the number of people here threads who claim they would never in a million years touch an iPhone, then you are clearly wasting your time.

Tony Swash has one of the most dead-on comments in this thread. I'll say it again, taking this much time and energy to hate on a product you have no intention of owning indicates that you have a boring and meaningless existence and decided to use this to fill up your time.

RE: So to summarise...
By Helbore on 7/18/2010 5:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yet you're filling up your time by posting messages about other people you've no likelihood of ever knowing. By your own logic you must have a boring and meaningless existence to be wasting your time like this. Or does it only apply to products you might not buy?

Spenidng five minutes making a post on a tech forum about a tech article is hardly indicitve of an inidivual's quality of life. It seems a bit much to judge anyone who criticises Apple as having no life purely on a post on the internet. All it tells you is that some people have an interest in technology and business.

To make such extreme judgements on such limited information makes your position look much more like character assassination (ie. the age-old Ad Hominem attack) than a genuine, reasoned response.

RE: So to summarise...
By KoolAidMan1 on 7/18/2010 8:21:08 PM , Rating: 1
This all took me under a minute, and it was simply me agreeing with Tony Swash and his post of sanity. Whenever I come by DR comments it is the same peanut gallery posting pages upon pages of the same obvious opinions, wasting time.

That said, you're right, I post any more and I'm starting to devote way too much time to this. Gonna enjoy the rest of this beautiful Sunday.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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