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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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RE: So to summarise...
By Tony Swash on 7/16/2010 5:27:28 PM , Rating: -1
quote:
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.


Do you have any evidence to back any of that up? Oddly I tend towards fact based discourse and decision making rather than assertion and conjecture so I am very interested in evidence.

Is there any evidence that the iPhone 4 suffer from reception problems "an order of magnitude" more than other phones - if so do please share.

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:

Nexus One

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/android/thre...

Nokia 2320

http://funsizebytes.com/post/745721120/instruction...

Nokia E71

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amPG52DVQuk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi1gHDa7-X0&feature...

Nokia 1208

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Zsuxbd0L0g

Nokia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7RR0AnSMGo

HTC Incredible

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpEQH9_A5jw

quote:
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.


Apple are offering all iphone customers free refunds up to 30th September. As far is known using a case prevents the reception issues in question, I have certain seen nothing offering evidence to the contrary.

How many do you think will take up the offer? Go on guess. That figure alone (ie the numbers returned) should in itself be a very good indicator of user satisfaction with the iPhone 4.

quote:
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.


Surely the key metric here should be a comparative one: i.e. how does Apple's response compare to the average sort of response in the phone industry or the broader technology sector. I would have thought it was probably one of the faster and better responses but I am all ears and if anyone has examples of similar large companies identifying, discussing in public and offer redresses in relation to defects in one of their new latest flagship products that betters Apples then do please share that information with us.

quote:
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.


Clearly you are not too keen on Apple (that's ironic understatement by the way) so it's probably a good thing for you if you don't buy an iPhone. Generally I find it a bit hard to fathom why so many people on these forums get so worked up by products that they don't intend to buy - it seems a bit weird really.


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
quote:
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".

quote:
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.
quote:
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.


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