The Apple Antenna Problem is not something that will not go away on its own. Because of certain iPhone 4 design flaws, when users hold the device in a certain way, called the “death grip,” they lose reception. This is something that happens to almost all mobile phones and has been widely publicized as of late. However, the mobile devices and smartphones with their antenna positioned on the bottom of the device are more susceptible to the problem, much like the iPhone 4 is. This is something that is evidenced by the countless user complaints that came in on the day of the iPhone 4’s early release and by videos submitted by numerous tech reviewers and users alike.
What is Apple doing about his problem? Are there any known options to remedy the Antennagate situation? Yes, three known solutions exist for users, aside from returning the iPhone 4 and buying a different brand. However, two do not make sense and all seem contradictory and inflammatory or as a diversion meant to turn heads away from the real problem; Apple’s iPhone 4 design and lack of real-word testing.
While there are three solutions available to combat the iPhone Antennagate problem; a case, an iOS update and “user education,” (including the Antenna page previously mentioned), all three appear to shift the consumer focus. They are designed to help consumers with their antenna and signal strength problems and “educate” the consumer on how Apple can apparently “do no wrong,” if not to take the focus off Apple and the iPhone 4’s obvious design flaws. Let us take a quick look into Apple’s apparent remediation stances and look at why they do not make sense.
The iOS Update
Wording on the page could lead iPhone users to believe there is nothing wrong with the phone’s signal or the way they hold the phone but instead is simply a problem with a faulty signal bar display. The webpage takes the stance and indicates that the “signal problem” will be fixed with this download.
With the creation of the Antenna Testing and Lab page, users learn how much Apple Inc. puts into testing of their devices, which is “over $100 million.” This page seems to indicate that Apple’s iPhone could not possibly have a reception problem because they have gone through rigorous testing before its release and would have fixed any problems before it was sold on the open market. However, the admission of Mr. Jobs to the problem contradicts any informaiton given on this page.
Additionally, the Apple Antenna Performance page indicates that all mobile phones have the same problem and, to some extent, they do. Apple did in fact test many mobile phones including the Samsung Omnia II, Nokia N97 Mini, Motorola Droid X and HTC Droid Eris. However, the captions below the photos indicating the results of the testing state in part, “in weak signal areas…” This would indicate they were not tested within normal reception areas in which people would use their phones the most.
The problem here is that the phones were not tested under the same controlled limitations, which skews the results of the “testing.” Another obvious problem with this testing is that the iPhone 4 signal problem is something that happens in areas that have excellent reception, as evidenced by the numerous videos submitted by users and well-known tech reviewers. This demands an answer to the question of what would have happened if the iPhone 4 testers tested the other phones under normal reception limits.
The Free Bumper Case Program
Allows users to download an application from which they can order a free Bumper for their iPhone 4. This Bumper, previously sold by third party entities only, stops the user from making contact with the antenna and cutting the signal off. While this is a viable solution to the iPhone 4 signal problem, it will only remain a viable solution until the end of September. Additionally, it appears as an admission of guilt and contradicts the iOS Update, the Antenna Lab and “Everyone else does it too…” stances previously taken by Apple Inc.
“Official” iPhone 4 Holding Instructions
Apparently, according to an email message sent from Steve Jobs to a user who asked what was wrong with his reception, users are holding the iPhone 4 the wrong way. To combat the resulting possible signal loss of using the death grip on the iPhone 4, users are instructed to hold the iPhone with their thumb and forefinger to talk or use it. Really? How will users accomplish this, since it would be quite difficult to do so and remain comfortable? Additionally, holding the phone in this manner will make talking on the iPhone 4 practically impossible.
What Does Make Sense?
While the free Bumper makes some kind of sense, it is obvious that a more permanent solution is needed, short of suing Apple Inc., especially since after September 30 2010, the Bumpers will no longer be given away free or reimbursed. This means that is a more permanent solution is not found, users will continue to have problems.
The only real remedial solution would be to redesign the iPhone 4 in its entirety. While it would cost upwards of billions of dollars, users should not be made to use a device that simply does not work properly, especially considering the problem could have been solved before its release. However, it would seem that Apple was so pressured to release the iPhone 4 that they overlooked this problem figuring it would not make much of a difference in user complaints. Boy, were they wrong!
References & Resources
“Smartphone Antenna Performance,” Apple
“iPhone 4 Case Program,” Apple
“iOS 4.0.1 Software Update,” Apple
“Apple’s Antenna Design & Test Labs,” Apple
“Apple Tosses Droid X into Antennagate, Here is Our Video,” Droid Life
Jason Chen, “iPhone 4 Loses Reception when You Hold it by the Antenna Band?,” Gizmodo
Rik Myslewski, “Disgruntled Fanbois Sought for iPhone 4 Apple Prosecution,” The Register
Joshua Topolsky, “Apple Responds to iPhone 4 Antenna Issue: You’re Holding it the Wrong Way,” Engadget