Ok, this antenna issue has gotten so far out of hand I feel the need to provide my viewpoint on the issue. Let’s get the background information out of the way:
- I have had the iPhone 4 since launch.
- In their public release, Apple admitted that holding the phone in a certain area will cause loss of signal (true for most phones), and that the software governing how bars are displayed is not linear.
- Consumer Reports can not recommend the iPhone 4 (more on this later).
Let me start with my personal and anecdotal observations on the topic. I have tried to replicate the death grip, and while I do drop in bars, my call and data quality have not dropped. I literally held the death grip spot (and with a significant amount more force) than what a person normally holding it would use while talking on the phone for 30minutes. While I was at 1 bar the entire time, my call quality was great, and did not drop the call once. My findings are consistent with Anandtech’s testing. Holding it in the death grip spot reduces it by 15-20dB. I know quite a few iPhone 4 users, and none of them have experienced any problems.
I believe Consumer Reports took the opportunity to sensationalize the issue in order to get more web hits (Adding Apple to any blog increases your visitor count by at least 2-3 fold). If you read the full report (which conveniently you have to pay for it), you will find a couple of interesting facts:
- Phoning and Message Quality – Very Good
- Voice Quality – Good
- Highest score out of any smartphone they have reviewed to date.
That is in conflict with their “Do not recommend” suggestion. However, please do not misconstrue what I have written to mean that no antenna problem exists. Because of the company Apple is, any slight fault is magnified to the nth degree. Some points to consider:
- Lost of reception does not mean that the iPhone is a “glorified iPod touch”. In the real world, this affects a very small, yet very vocal minority.
- The use of a case mitigates this entirely. I know people don’t like to hear that excuse, but a majority of people use cases.
- It will truly only affect people who are in areas with lower reception.
- In a lot of videos, people are cupping it very tightly, which just isn’t representative of how we hold the phone in everyday use.
- In the testing conducted by Anandtech, the iPhone overall has better reception, as it is able to better hold signals at lower signals.
Will some people be affected by this issue? Yes. Will a significant majority of people have improved call quality and reception? Also yes. Personally, I have noticed fewer dropped calls since switching to the iPhone 4.
Does that make me a loyal fanboy (even though I love Apple products)? No (though the news would have you believe otherwise). Like everything in life, there is tradeoff. The superior OS, applications, video/camera, retina screen, and overall improved reception are more meaningful and mitigate the antenna issue.
Now, if you want to talk about how Apple handled the situation, I totally agree they dropped the ball there. Apple is usually very good at PR, I’m surprised they have not said anything since their press release. The talks of recalls are silly (this is not a safety issue), nor is comparing this antenna issue to Toyota or BP (read last paragraph) blunders even logical in the extreme. Probably the best thing they can do now is either subsidize or give away bumpers to people who have purchased the iPhone 4, similar to what Nintendo did with the Wii controller.
Only Apple could release a highly successful product that sold 1.7 million units in 3 days (and easily over 2 million by now) and still be criticized to such extremes. The truth of the matter is a significantly large percentage of users are happy, and for those that aren’t, if you are really that dissatisfied with the iPhone 4, RETURN IT. Your 30 days are up on July 24, 2010.