You’ve likely heard of the iPhone 4 antenna debacle and saw coverage of the recent press conference that Apple held on the issue. Well, as an 4 owner, I’m quite bothered by what’s going on and the way that Apple has acted toward this issue.
First of all, Apple has contradicted itself over the antenna dilemma. Prior to Apple’s July 16th press conference, Bloomberg ran an article titled “Apple Engineer Told Jobs iPhone Antenna Might Cut Calls” which purported that a senior engineer at Apple had warned Jobs about the possibility of the antenna design could lead to dropped calls.
When someone brought up that Bloomberg article during the Q&A part of Apple’s July 16th press conference, this is what was said, according to Engadget’s live blog of the event:
Q: Were you told about the design before the phone was released?
Steve: Are you talking about the Bloomberg article? That’s a crock, and we’ve challenged them to show proof of that. If anyone had said this thing has problems, we would have dispatched people to deal with that issue. [my emphasis]
So Apple says that reports that they were warned about the antenna design beforehand were false. With that in mind, see this quote from Steve Jobs at an earlier point in the same press conference (the time is marked if you’d like to watch it for yourself):
“We knew that if you gripped it in a certain way, the bars are going to go down a little bit […] we didn’t think it’d be a big problem.” – (13:17)
This statements seem to be rather conflicting. And it isn’t just that. At the opening of the press conference, Jobs explained what the press was reporting about the issue, and said that it had been dubbed “antennagate”. Just at the end of the conference, jobs had this to say:
“There is no ‘antennagate’” — (33:20)
However, earlier in the conference he very clearly stated the following:
“When our engineers and scientists look at this data, it’s very hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that that problem is affecting a very small percentage of users.” – (23:28) [my emphasis]
So, to paraphrase the above, Apple says “No one within Apple warned us about any antenna problem as Bloomberg reported” then goes on to say “We knew about this issue, but didn’t think it’d be a problem.” And furthermore, “There is no issue (antennagate), but looking at the data, its hard to escape the conclusion that there is one”.
Anyone else have a problem with what’s been said here? And mind you, these aren’t out of context quotes from various statements that were weeks apart. No, this is all from a single, orchestrated, Apple press conference.
Moving on…. Apple says this issue is affecting only a small number of users. Well I happen to be one of those users and I was expecting a working phone when I bought it. I upgraded from Apple’s iPhone 3GS and quickly began noticing that my iPhone 4 dropped calls more frequently and more easily than my iPhone 3GS. Steve said his pet theory was that many people had cases when they went from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS, so the antenna issue was already fixed. Well I never owned a case for my iPhone 3G or my iPhone 3GS, and yet, there is a noticeable and frustrating increase in dropped calls since
I’ve started using the iPhone 4. I was even noticing more dropped calls early on when I thought people were just jumping to conclusions over the antenna issue.
I’m an affected user, but Apple wants to make every user happy, according to Jobs. So I take my phone to the genius bar at the Apple store; I have three issues:
- Proximity sensor – hangs up calls while I’m on the phone with people
- Dropped calls – iPhone 4 drops noticeably more calls than my iPhone 3GS or 3G
- 3G Speeds – My upload speeds never surpass 100 kbps (I’m lucky if I even get that many) even when I get 1+ Mbps download [this is when I’m not even touching my phone]
So what does Apple do to make me ‘happy’?
- Proximity sensor – blames the software “fix coming soon” ok fine, I’ll take that and hope that a software update really does fix it
- Dropped calls — “We’ll give you a case, that will fix the problem”. This is a frustrating response. They don’t acknowledge that the iPhone 3GS doesn’t have the same call dropping issues as the iPhone 4, but they tell me that a case will fix the problem. Well guess what? I don’t want to use a freaking case on my phone. I’ve never had a case for my iPhones because I use a holster instead. If they would simply say “Ok, look, the iPhone 4’s design causes calls to be dropped more frequently than the iPhone 3GS” then I’d be somewhat happier because I know that there’d actually be a confirmed issue for which a case would be the remedy. But not saying that they is a problem unique to the iPhone 4, then offering a free case to fix this “non-problem” is just ridiculous. At the press conference, Jobs said that he doesn’t use a bumper and he holds his phone in the death grip and has never seen problems. Well I certainly do see problems, but because Jobs has stated that the issue is not unique to the iPhone 4, the Apple store won’t replace my phone. What if my phone is one of a small percent that actually has some flaw? Because, I’m certainly having a different experience than that of Mr. Jobs. They just play it off now like all iPhone 4’s can’t possibly have a real issue, even though they clearly do when compared to phones like the 3GS (as confirmed by Steve Jobs citing drop call data from iPhone 3GS vs. iPhone 4)
- 3G Speeds — So how about my upload speed never passing 100 kbps? Could that possibly be an indicator that there is something wrong with my phone? Certainly not, they just blame AT&T.
All I really want is to swap out my iPhone 4 for another iPhone 4 and see if I still have the same problems. Apple says they’d be happy to do that for me, but they can’t take a phone from the Genius Bar stock, instead they have to take it from sale stock, which is empty, and there likely won’t have any before my 30 day return window is long gone (it ends on the 23rd of July – 3 days from now).
Ok so Apple says if I’m still not happy, I can return the phone for a refund. They promise me a free case, but they can’t get it to me until after my 30 day return period is closed. What if I wait for the case and I’m still having issues? Will Apple claim that that’s just how all smartphones are and not do anything to fix the problem?
All of this has me seriously considering the Samsung Captivate which I played with very briefly in an AT&T store today, it felt snappy, and if I can return the iPhone and get my upgrade eligibility back, I’ll be able to pick up the Captivate for $100 less than I paid for the iPhone 4. Tempting.