Tag Archive | "apple iphone 4 reception"

Apple Contradicts Itself and Puts Me in a Rough Spot With iPhone 4 Antenna Conundrum, Has Me Looking for a New Handset

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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 iPhone 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 inch 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. inch – (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 inch. Just at the end of the conference, jobs had this to say:

“There is no ‘antennagate’ inch — (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. inch – (23:28) [my emphasis]

So, to paraphrase the above, Apple says “No one within Apple warned us about any antenna problem as Bloomberg reported inch then goes on to say “We knew about this issue, but didn’t think it’d be a problem. inch And furthermore, “There is no issue (antennagate), but looking at the data, its hard to escape the conclusion that there is one inch.

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:

  1. Proximity sensor – hangs up calls while I’m on the phone with people
  2. Dropped calls – iPhone 4 drops noticeably more calls than my iPhone 3GS or 3G
  3. 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’?

  1. Proximity sensor – blames the software “fix coming soon inch ok fine, I’ll take that and hope that a software update really does fix it
  2. Dropped calls — “We’ll give you a case, that will fix the problem inch. 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 inch 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 inch 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)
  3. 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.

Apple: Free Cases to iPhone 4 Owners or Refund. I’m Not Satisfied, Considering Changing Phones After Owning the Last 3 iPhones

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bumpers Apple’s press conference is still doing some Q&A as I write, but the gist of it consisted of Apple saying that all phones have the reception issue when held in certain ways and that they don’t actually have a problem that is unique to their device. Still, they say that they want to make customers happy and so they are offering a free case to iPhone users or accepting returns for full refunds through September 30th. Apple says they will present a few different cases for customers to choose from as they are unable to make their own first-party bumper cases quickly enough to keep up with demand. Apple also says that if you bought a bumper case, you’ll be refunded, however, third-party cases will not receive refunds. Customers can apply for free cases from Apple on their site, “late next week”.

I wrote yesterday about why a free case wasn’t going to cut it:

I personally won’t be satisfied with a free bumper. I want a new phone, and one that works. I’m a phone holster kind of guy, and naturally, a bumper on my phone wouldn’t slip in an out of holster very easily. I also don’t like the idea of buying a flawed product then requiring that an accessory be always present to fix it. I quite like the aesthetics of the iPhone 4, despite the fact that they are responsible for the reception issues. I don’t want to cover up the sides of the phone.

Hearing Apple say that they don’t think they have a problem when myself, and many others have been putting up with the issue, is very frustrating. This feels like a good opportunity to go for a new phone. I’ve been using the iPhone since the 3G, but I’d totally snag a Droid X [portal page] or HTC Evo 4G [portal page] if I could; the major roadblock for me is that neither of those phones are available on AT&T, and at the moment there really aren’t a lot of good options to choose from other than the iPhone on AT&T.

The only phone I’d likely consider is the upcoming Samsung Captivate which is due to be released on the 18th. Apple is offering a “full” refund on the iPhone 4, which for me would mean $299 back, but if AT&T doesn’t return my upgrade availability then I won’t be able to get a subsidized deal on a new phone, thus making returning the phone a huge waste of money. I just locked an offer in with Gazelle.com to sell the iPhone 4 for $493, just in case.

Let’s not forget that I had to agree to a new two-year AT&T contract to purchase the iPhone 4, and I’m doubting that AT&T will undo that if I return the phone. Apple was very unclear on this point in their press conference, but if AT&T doesn’t return “upgrade eligibility” to customers who return their phones, then you’d be better off selling your phone to recoup the costs than returning it to Apple.

Apple says they want to make every customer happy… I’m certainly not happy right now.

iPhone 4 Reception Story Reaches a Climax Tomorrow; I’m Awaiting Apple’s Fix – Free Cases Won’t Cut It

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iphone We’ve stayed out of iPhone 4 [portal page] reception coverage until now, but things are finally getting interesting as Apple readies a press conference for tomorrow at 10 AM PST (1 AM EST) in which they are expected to address the issue.

Apple has been slow to recognize the problem, initially asking users to hold the phone differently and saying that all phones experience the same problem to some degree. The broad outcry of this issue has made it apparent that the iPhone 4 has a much more severe reaction to this issue than other phones and even previous iPhones.

After saying that all phones experience the issue, Apple thought that the issue lay with a software bug that was causing bars to be incorrectly displayed, and indeed they were. AnandTech has done some thorough testing which revealed the skewed representations of the bars (each bar didn’t represent the same amount of signal). Apple, today, released an update from iOS 4.0 to 4.0.1 for users of the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 which corrected the bar formula, and increased the size of the first three bars. I suppose Jobs figured we just couldn’t see them even though they were there, thanks to the blinding holy light that the “retina” display emits.

Still, anyone who has actually used the iPhone 4 can tell you that this isn’t a software bug, and Apple’s determination to fix the incorrect bar formula hasn’t silenced the people experiencing the issue in the least.

Fast forward a few days and Consumer Reports… er… reports that the iPhone 4’s reception issues are indeed hardware related, though this was also confirmed by a number of other places and should have been very obvious to anyone using the phone. In my own testing, WiFi was clearly affected based on grip, showing that the problem certainly isn’t cause by a bug that altered how reception bars were being displayed.

I’m sure Apple has been feverishly working behind the scenes to figure out what the problem is and find a solution to it, though it’s a bit upsetting that it seems as though it took Consumer Report’s widespread report to get them to acknowledge the issue when so many people were already informing Apple of the problem. Shortly after Consumer Report’s post, Apple announced that they’d be holding a press conference on Friday the 16th (tomorrow, or perhaps today by the time I publish this).

I upgraded my own iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 and immediately began noticing worse call quality and a vast increase in dropped calls. I rarely ever dropped calls in my area with the iPhone 3GS and suddenly calls started dropping like crazy once I upgraded to the iPhone 4. It’s almost embarrassing to have a “phone” that some people are billing as the best in the world that is actually awful at the whole “phone” part. It’s one thing to simply hold your phone and watch the bars drop and say “I have this issue”. It’s another entirely to be trying to give someone important driving directions and have the call dropped outright, as has happened to me and it is rather frustrating.

It has been widely suggested that Apple issue free “bumper” cases to iPhone 4 users to fix the issue, as reports indicate that using various cases, which prevent contact with your hand and the sensitive part of the phone, prevents the problem from happening.

I personally won’t be satisfied with a free bumper. I want a new phone, and one that works. I’m a phone holster kind of guy, and naturally, a bumper on my phone wouldn’t slip in an out of holster very easily. I also don’t like the idea of buying a flawed product then requiring that an accessory be always present to fix it. I quite like the aesthetics of the iPhone 4, despite the fact that they are responsible for the reception issues. I don’t want to cover up the sides of the phone.

I’ll be watching eagerly tomorrow to see what Apple says at their conference. Free cases aren’t going to satisfy me, and I find it hard to imagine that Apple would cannibalize it’s own accessory market by giving out millions of free cases. I think Apple will instead announce some sort of exchange program where consumers will be able to get their phone replaced for a fixed model and the issue model will be retroactively fixed through some internal means, then sent back to the shelves as new or refurbished devices. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Beyond the reception issues is the lurking proximity sensor problem. While not as frequently cited as the antenna problems, the proximity sensor may be compounding the issue. Before I noticed the reception problems, I found many calls had been dropped without the familiar “Call Failed” screen that generally pops up when calls are dropped. Instead, I’d be talking on the phone with someone one minute, then suddenly they’d stop talking. I’d ask if anyone was still there, and upon not hearing a response, I’d look at my iPhone’s screen to see my Favorites screen (a “quick call” list, if you will) staring right back at me. I can’t be 100% sure, but it seemed very much as though I had accidentally hit the End Call button with my face while on the phone. I’ve had this happen several times and quite hilariously, it happened today while I was in the middle of setting up an appointment with an Apple store to look into my phone’s proximity problems.. Hopefully Apple recognizes both issues and will be able to nail two birds with one stone tomorrow.

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