It’s one thing to actually have antenna issues with new iPhone 4, and we’re not even sure yet it’s an issue with all of the phones – a quick poll by Engadget shows that over half of the replies are having issues with reception bars dropping (but about 1/3 of them doesn’t experience more dropped calls than usual). The poll is not at all scientific and could be polluted by Apple-haters, but I believe it was either Engadgets or Gizmodos iPhone 4 that didn’t experience any antenna problems, so there are certainly phones out there without (these) reception issues – apparently.
But what’s even worse, is how Apple, mainly Steve Jobs, seems to be handling the issue. He replied to two customer e-mails asking him about the antenna thing, here’s one of them:
So, um, just got my iPhone 4. It’s lovely and all, but this ‘bridge the two antennae to kill your reception’ thing seems to be a bit serious. If I bridge them with my hand or with a piece of metal the bars slowly drop to ‘Searching…’ and then ‘No Service’.
It’s kind of a worry. Is it possible this is a design flaw?
Regards – Rory Sinclair
Nope. Just don’t hold it that way.
Rory wrote back:
Actually, its not calls that concern me, but i’ve just been writing a text and its very natural for me as a right-handed person to hold it that way, with the part of my hand at the base of my thumb covering the point the antennae meet, and it kills the reception each time.
I mean, pretty much as soon as i move my hand it comes back, but its pretty crazy… is this the reason Bumpers exist?
Just don’t hold it that way then.
Rory wasn’t satisfied so he gave it another go:
Well, yeah, thats what i’ll do, but you have to admit thats a workaround, yeah? I mean, normally there aren’t limits to how you can hold a phone.
I seriously dig the phone, its totally amazing, but I think this is what many would call a design flaw.
Steve’s last reply:
Sure there are – every phone has these areas of sensitivity, depending on the location of the antenna. Some phones even ship with labels warning customers to not cover certain areas with their hands.
The Internet is about to overflow with “Steve/Apple, you’re holding it wrong”-images, like these and this one below:
Having the actual antenna issues, I can understand – shit happens to the best of us, including the Google Nexus One phone. But I don’t get the way Steve handles this. He must know that there’s (high?) risk of his e-mails finding their way to the Internet and a million tech/Apple interested people. While Rory do post the e-mail headers on his blog for verification, these can be forged and probably copied based on previous posted headers from “Stevemails”, but I’m afraid it’s the real deal.
Read more about the antenna: TUAW – The science behind the iPhone 4’s antennas.
Here’s what I currently have in mind (and yes, I’m still planning on getting the iPhone 4. After all, phone calls is one of the features I use the least 🙂 )
- Apple said (to Walt Mossberg, in his iPhone 4 review) that they’ll provide a software update to fix how the reception bars are displayed. I don’t know how much this will fix – if anything at all. But I have faith…
- Not all iPhone 4’s seems to have the antenna issues. Meaning, there’s still hope of getting one without the issues (and maybe a replacement unit for those who got a faulty one).
- There are some theories that you can apply a coat of polish (or something) on the lower-left corner of the iPhone to avoid bridging the two antennas when you hold it in the “wrong way”.
- There are also some theories that this could have been solved by Apple in the making, by applying a coat of something, also to avoid users bridging the antennas – so maybe they’ll do that to future iPhones?
… yet, I’m still worried about Steve’s “just don’t hold it that way”-response. That really indicates that there’s not much to do about it on the current iPhones – but still leaves a door open for next shipments of iPhone 4’s to function better. Besides, he really shouldn’t blame his customers for this fault, in my opinion.
I don’t know.