iPhone 4: AntennaGate – The Conference

Apple had the iPhone 4 ‘AntennaGate’ conference today, talking about the iPhone 4’s problems. According to reports, Steve Jobs talked about how all cellular phones have the same antenna problem and he even demonstrated multiple cell phone models showing the ‘death-grip’ problem on stage. After discussing how this isn’t limited to the iPhone, Apple did admit some people might not be happy and here’s how they’re going to try to satisfy everyone…

In order to help stop the signal degradation, Apple will now give everyone a free case for the iPhone 4. They’re not going to be shipping bumpers to everyone, Apple says they cannot manufacture them fast enough, so Apple will offer multiple case designs. If someone already bought a new Bumper™, Apple will refund the money. They’re setting this up on the web next week, where you’ll be able to apply on Apple.com. In addition, they will allow anyone to return their iPhone 4 for a full refund for 30 days without re-strocking fee or Wireless contract cancelation fees. Between the firmware upgrade ( 4.0.1 ) and the free case, I hope this spells the end to ‘AntennaGate’. What’s everyone think about this latest development with the iPhone 4?

Note: The picture is from Apple’s antenna performance lab, and is not a special torture chamber they setup for iPhone detractors.

Check out more info on Apple’s SmartPhone Antenna page:

Smartphone Antenna Performance

If you’d like to see a live blog of the conference, this is the one I watched, check out Engadget:

Live from Apple’s iPhone 4 Press Conference.

Posted in: iPhone, iPad, iPod

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Ronald July 17, 2010, 3:01 am

    Apple should have done this much earlier. Apple’s aftersale haa got a bad reputation in Europe, and this denial / slow confession doesn’t help Apple at all.
    Yet, I’d still want a iPhone 4 if my boss would pay for it. Now we’re all on Blackberry and Nokia. I haven’t seen a death grip on one of those yet

  • Adam Scinto July 17, 2010, 5:27 am

    I agree – Apple should have made a statement earlier, like they’re looking into it or they’re investigating… something.

    I also feel they should have made clear that the design is better overall, and it was a conscious design decision. So the problem isn’t so much a defect, it’s part of the design and something to keep in mind just like those stickers that come attached to other phones warn you. Because at the end of the day, everyone I speak with has very few dropped calls on the iPhone 4. Startlingly few calls drop even with one bar, especially one of my friends that had a 3G which dropped in NYC all the time. I’ve seen it myself: In a bad signal area, like certain streets in Manhattan, my 3GS drops calls if I sneeze.

  • Ken S July 17, 2010, 7:25 am

    So, they try and deflect by saying other phones have the issue and then mention that their new model actually drops more calls than the old model. I guess the iPhone 5 will drop even more calls?

  • Henry S July 17, 2010, 9:16 am

    I’m happy with my 3Gs, so I’ll wait for the iPhone 5; I suspect they’ll figure out a solution by then.

  • Larry E July 17, 2010, 9:47 am

    I have been very happy with my 3g performance. I had planned on upgrading to the iphone4, but now I am rethinking about it.

  • Ryan July 17, 2010, 9:51 am

    It’s amazing how badly iPhone 4 sucks. It’s also amazing how Apple Fanboys will defend it until the end of time. I will freely note first off that I am not a fanboy by any stretch, however I do have the 3GS, which I love. I did buy the iPhone 4, and it was so terrible that I returned it and went back to my current 3GS. It was just that bad. It’s hilarious to me what Apple fanboys are saying in forums and blogs all across the web, defending this thing like it’s some sacred gem, pretending all its issues don’t even exist. Ridiculous. Check out the video I made on YouTube about “An Apple Fanboy’s take on Life…”. It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPcQ-cYg8iA

  • Julie July 17, 2010, 10:02 am

    I may be an Apple fanGIRL, but I will freely complain when there’s an issue with their products. So far I’ve had no problems at all with my iPhone 4. I was using a case with it for the first couple of weeks and finally ditched that and still have yet to have a dropped call. I’m also a lefthanded deathgripper. No issues.

  • James Wages July 17, 2010, 11:32 am

    I’m sorry but I cannot be silent when I read basically the same posts over and over, both from end users in online forums and by the media itself: “Apple should have said this sooner.” That is just plain foolishness. Sooner? Watch the Apple press conference video. You will then see WHY Apple did not do something “sooner.” It has been a total of 22 days, folks. Twenty-two days. No, not 3 months. Twenty-two days. And during that time, as you can see from watching the press conference video, Apple did a LOT of research and information gathering about the problem, so as to make that information available to one and all. And for some of you to condemn anyone who seems to defend Apple in any way as “a fanboy” is hardly different from grade-school, adolescent name-calling — any immature and uneducated person can do that.

    To any intelligent and educated person, this problem has been blown way out of proportion by the media. And I say this as someone who takes strong issue with the mentality of Steve Jobs from time to time. From what I have read, a good amount of the negativity in the media seems to have been propagated especially by those who live in the San Francisco area and other areas of relatively weak signal strength in the US. But let’s assume there are a large number of iPhone 4 users who are upset (3,000,000 x 0.55% = 16,500 calls to Applecare support about antenna issues). I propose these folks should direct a significant amount of their anger toward their local governments, demanding that more cell towers get approved faster. And these same people should perhaps also be banging on the FCC’s door to loosen up on its cell phone antenna regulations, which limit what Apple engineers can do in the design lab. But it’s just plain foolish to follow the lead of Gizmodo (who was found in possession of stolen property and now wants to get back at Apple) to condemn Apple exclusively.

    To understand better the role the FCC has in all this, I highly recommend this iPhone 4 Antennas article:

    http://www.antennasys.com/antennasys-blog/2010/6/24/apple-iphone-4-antennas.html

  • Adam Scinto July 17, 2010, 2:40 pm

    James: I agree with everything except the part where they remained mute for 22 days. I think they let the press cycle be run by the negative news.

    This whole fanboy thing is childish and stupid: It’s like some gradeschool kid screaming “I Know you are but what am I”. It reminds me of whats happening in politics these days.

    And again, the fact remains that calls are dropped less on the new iPhone – So even with the antenna design, warts and all, it’s better than the earlier models.

    Ryan – What made the iphone terrible besides the antenna issues?

  • Cyberg00se July 17, 2010, 6:42 pm

    Well troll and internet tough guys types love a good scandal don’t they? Yes, this is a fault and yes Apple have stepped up more than any other company ever has done for a feature that is present on all phones. It simply is. Has anyone ever read the part of the manual for a smartphone that says “Don’t hold it here!” Come on, this is known thing.

    Now given the design it seems to rear its head more on the iPhone 4. Ok fine, Apple needs to work on that, and like I said, they’ve stepped up to the plate. It’ll be interesting to see what happens after the end of September. Will there be an extension on the free case policy, cases included with the phone, or a silent revision that addresses the issue. Probably the last one.

    A recall is just crazy talk.

    Putting it in perspective, anyone remember HP’s stellar response to the misleading color depth of the HP 568? Who remembers dust under the screens of their iPaqs and Palms? How about the minor controversy every year when MS would release a PPC and then Windows Mobile Update, only to find out your device was now obsolete because – no update for you!

    Did any of those companies ever step up to the plate and say something that wasn’t 1000% BS? I hear crickets chirping…

    And Apple did. Props to them for doing so. Yes it’s industry wide and no it shouldn’t be so obvious on the iPhone 4 as it, but yes Apple took action, and that’s a good thing.

    Or maybe you’d rather your smartphone have dust under its screen, spiking digitizer, and dropped signal, and an OS that lasts a year and from a company who stays silent on the issues.

    We’re demanding better of companies today and that’s a good thing. Things are improving. Everything is great and yet no one is happy.

  • garya July 18, 2010, 7:43 pm

    Julie,

    I am wondering, what is position 4+5 or your serial number (build week)? I saw on another site that a person go an release day 4 which was built week 25, had a few issues – including the death grip, went to apple store and was swapped for one built on week 28 and issues including death grip either went away or were less noticealbe. My 4 was built week 21 and shows signal issues intermittantly (no pattern yet). I am asking as you have pointed out in the past of your signal issues at home no matter the phone and I am wondering if there was a manufacturing issue that was caught at Foxconn but they are not ‘fessing up’ to Apple. After all Apple execs can not be everywhere and have to go with what their supplier/builder says they have done.

    Also IMHO a recall is not crazy talk if in fact there was a manufacturing issue for a certain length of time but was caught and quietly fixed. Please note!!! I am NOT saying anyone with the power to fix this knew about any issue but may in the dark as other people are. I have worked with a few vendors in the past and even when I pointedly asked about defects I was told things were built to spec even when I was able to prove beyond any doubt that was not the case, the vendor was just doing a CYA move. However not being the person responsible for determining penalty my company still does business with them so no real incentive to improve.

    It is impossible for Apple or any company to QA every device made so the pattern is usually the few few batches which get the most scrutiney have the most care in building then only ‘representative’ samples are pulled for verification and when the company that builds is also the QA then anything can happen.

    After all, Foxconn has a record, as far as I am concerned, with having lesser that stellar QA since they have been at the root of issues for other companies like Dell.

  • Julie July 19, 2010, 9:20 am

    @garya The serial number for my iPhone 4 is 86025S3WA4T

  • Deslock July 20, 2010, 12:32 pm

    I reserved an iPhone4 a couple weeks ago figuring I was pretty sure I wanted it (and knowing that I could opt not to pick it up if I changed my mind). My hesitation was because of the fragility of the design more than the death grip. It came in last Thu so I got to listen to the press conference before deciding.

    The free bumper addresses my concerns, so I picked up the phone Fri night. The screen is the best I’ve seen and the device is even more responsive than the 3GS, despite having 4X the pixels.

    I watched Ryan’s video, and a couple moments made me chuckle, but overall it’s not as funny as Brian Maupin’s iPhone4 vs Evo video. However, both suffer from the same flaw: they contain exaggerations and omissions (exemplifying that anti-fanboys can be as bad as fanboys).

    All these phones have pros and cons. Any rational discussion as detailed as what’s in those videos would also include at least battery life and screen resolution. Viewing angles, responsiveness, and quality and quantity of available apps are also relevant. And everyone beats up on AT&T, but Sprint also has a lot of coverage holes.

    BTW, is The Gadgeteer going to do an iPhone4 review? (or did I miss it?)

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