It seems the release of the Apple iPhone 4, which hit the market on June 24, has caused Apple a great deal of drama. Even though Apple has already sold over 1.7 million phones, this new release has some raving that the iPhone 4 is the best of the crop, while others are debating whether they should return it for an Android phone, like the upcoming Droid X. Although I have never owned an iPhone personally, I have to deal with them on a daily basis while working my IT job. I have been following the situation closely, and decided to sit down and write my observations.
If you haven’t heard of the antenna/reception issues some iPhone 4 users have been experiencing, then you must live under a rock. After receiving their phones, a few iPhone 4 users reported seeing a severe decrease in signal strength and voice/data quality when they covered the lower left corner of the phone. An example of the problem can be seen in this video:
I am a technology nerd so I realize that new releases, like the iPhone 4, might come with a few bugs. Usually the users concerns are quickly acknowledged by the manufacturer and solutions are released. But not in this instance. When this problem first surfaced on the internet, Apple’s response was this:
“Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”
So, in essence, iPhone users are too stupid to hold their phones correctly. Ouch. Personally, I wouldn’t pay ANY company $200+ to use their product if they were going to rufuse to investigate any issues users were having, and instead, insult their customers by calling them stupid. I would have used my 30-day warranty option with AT&T right there and returned the phone. What good is a phone if it can’t make calls because I hold it a certain way?
I have also come across a story at BGR where an iPhone user sent an email to Apple voicing his frustrations over the antenna issues. I’m still not 100% convinced, but supposedly Steve Jobs himself responds to this email. Again, the response is basically insulting:
“No, you are getting all worked up over a few days of rumors. Calm down.”
“You are most likely in an area with very low signal strength.”
and my personal favorite
“Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it.”
He (or whoever REALLY wrote these emails) is right. It is just a phone. But I know some people that save for months or spend a big chunk of their paychecks to get their hands on one. And they still get no acknowledgement of the issue, they just get the blame game where Apple blames AT&T for their shoddy service. How much degradation and abuse are the iPhone lovers in the world willing to take? In addition to AT&T’s abysmal service, now users have to put up with being called names.
But have no fear iPhone fanatics! After about a week, Apple has finally decided to release a statement about the antenna/reception issues. It can be read in full here.
Apple was “stunned” to discover they had messed up the formula used to calculate how many bars of service should be shown on the iPhone 4. A software update will be released “in a few weeks” to fix the formula, thus resolving the antenna/reception issues. So now when you hold your phone wrong, it will actually show you have NO bars instead of the 2 it would previously drop down to. I’m just wondering if this so-called fix will conveniently arrive AFTER the 30-day return period? If you don’t want to wait for the update, users can also purchase a case for their iPhones that will reportedly solve or reduce the problem. But it just really seems that Apple made this situation much worse than it needed to be.
I’m not an antenna expert, but I really don’t see a software fix completely fixing a hardware problem. It might mask the symptoms and quell the whining, but the phone probably will never work as reliably as it should. Please let us know what you think. Could Apple be handling this differently? Are you offended at their response?
On a sidenote: It seems the Droid X marketing gurus are taking full advantage of this situation in their latest ad. Pretty clever if you ask me!