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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Apple answers the iPhone 4 antenna issues

In a press conference yesterday, Apple has finally faced the iPhone 4 antenna issues head on. Present at the event were some of Apple's head honchos, with most of the presentation and answers to press questions  being handled by Steve Jobs himself (as usual....now that's a good CEO eh?).

Below are the highlights of the event:
- First and foremost Apple acknowledges the problem that when users hold the iPhone 4 in certain ways, their signal is diminished. The Cupertino company also takes full blame of the problem. So no dodging, denying or PR smokescreen. Good.
- Apple says that the problem is inherent with practically all of todays smartphones, since antenna design has been minimized by everyone. They showed examples that when users hold some Blackberry's or Android's in a specific way, the signal also deteriorates. (Having used a Nexus One and Samsung Omnia, I can confirm that this is indeed true). Nobody wants to make a walky-talky style external antenna anymore, hence this problem is prevalent.
- Even if it is an industry-wide problem, Jobs says that the iPhone 4's popularity unfairly made it the butt of  media jokes. However, Apple is still trying to be first in the industry to solve the design problem, maybe in the next iPhone ( Although, I hope it doesn't have a radio antenna outside...)
- Jobs also says the problem was blown way out of proportion by some media sites. They brought out the facts: Based on AT&T data, the iPhone 4 only drops less than 1% more calls than the last generation 3GS. Only 0.55% of iPhone 4 buyers called in to complain about their antenna problems. Then only 1.7% of iPhone 4 buyers actually returned their phone.

So what's their solution?

- On to the Solutions:  According to Apple, the workaround is to avoid touching the iPhone in the bottom left contact metal point. But in order to be sure, they recommend using a case for your iPhone 4. Now the good news, everybody who bought an iPhone 4 from the launch until Sept. 30 will be given a free case, courtesy of Apple. Customers can walk in to any Apple store, or log into Apple's website to arrange for their free case.
- If the customer is STILL not satisfied with this solution, they can return their iPhone 4 for a full refund within 30 days of purchase, and no need to pay the usual "Restocking Fee". This is for iPhones bought before Sept. 30, which suggests that by that time, the newer iPhone's produced will already have a solution built-in the hardware (like the previously rumored antenna insulator attached on the inside).
- By July 30th Apple will continue their worldwide roll-out to 17 more countries (including Asia), as originally planned.
- The White iPhone 4 will also be available by August.

I like the way Apple handled this bad press. Both the admittance of the problem and their solution was satisfactory. I'm glad they didn't turn a deaf ear or just hide behind a wall of PR experts, but instead faced it head on, with their Top management answering all questions from the press.


  1. "So no dodging, denying or PR smokescreen. Good."... well, that is now after they claimed there was "no problem", than later a "software problem." If they did not loose billions in stock value since this death grip issue became public, they might never have come clean.

    The problem does not affect other phones, since Apple is the only one who tried the innovation of attaching the antenna to the case without any insulation.

    Samsung already issued a release denying any death grip problems on their phones.

    "Based on years of experience of designing high-quality phones, Samsung mobile phones employ an internal antenna design technology that optimises reception quality for any type of hand-grip use," Samsung said in a statement.