Friday, July 16, 2010

iPhone 4 Antenna Press Conference

John Siracusa:

My hunch is that the iPhone 4 is more susceptible to signal loss from hand touches due to its external antenna. I also believe it does get better overall reception than earlier iPhones. What bothers me is that Apple, living up to the worst stereotypes of large corporations, hammers on the latter while never addressing the former. Maybe it has something to do with liability in all the class-action lawsuits, maybe it’s just “how things are done,” I don’t know. But it’s a shame.

Steve Jobs kept repeating that all smartphones are susceptible to this type of problem, but he could never quite say that Apple had made a tradeoff. He trotted out questionable statistics. (For example, the low return rate could be because the problem was well publicized, Apple had extended the return period, and people assumed a fix was in the works. And how likely is a return when you’re locked into the platform?) He didn’t address the possibility of adding a coating or some other hardware modification, instead joking that Apple hasn’t yet found a way around physics. The press let him spin and for the most part didn’t make good use of their questions.

The bumpers work, but I don’t think they’re a satisfactory solution. As Garrett Murray says:

But you can’t use the dock with a Bumper, and you can’t use most of the car accessories with a Bumper, and the Bumper makes it hard to put the phone into your pocket which means you’re more likely to drop it…

The good news is that Apple thinks the proximity sensor problem will be fixable in software.

Update: Marco Arment on cases.

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[…] iPhone 4. I still think the problems with the antenna design go farther than what’s been acknowledged. My father returned his iPhone 4 because, even in a case, the signal strength was much worse than […]

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