While the iPhone 4 might just be the most advanced smartphone on the planet, it has an uncanny knack of losing reception depending on how you hold it. But the issue isn’t as transparent as, “If you hold it this way… it will break.” While some individuals have been able to replicate the issue, others haven’t been able to, and there is much discussion on whether the problem is accentuated by where you live, bodily fluids (sweat), or other environmental factors. Then again this hasn’t exactly been a major issue for other smartphones, so then the issue has to be debated about whether this was possible all along, or if this should even be occurring in the first place. Either way, it’s a problem that’s quite odd for the folks in Cuptertino, who consider it a, “non-issue.”
I think the crew from Buzz Out Loud on CNET put it best when they made the point that Apple has this reception issue which they consider, “A non-issue”, which is fixed by a case. That case being a thirty dollar bumper that happens to only cover the stainless steel band. Coincidence? It’s quite alarming, as Apple has never really been in the business of really marketing cases until recently, and those cases probably cost just a few cents to produce – the markup is ridiculously high for a band of rubber. Apple is making a killing off of those cases.
For those who don’t remember, Apple’s PR statement, summed up nicely by MacRumors, was this:
Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.
Steve Jobs himself said it was a non-issue, and to not hold the phone in a way that causes you to lose reception. Even then, all of their advertising shows users holding it in the only specific manner that causes the phone to lose reception. “Ridiculous!” I say. But Apple and Steve Jobs apparently think not - a MacRumors reader wrote Jobs about the issue, and Jobs replied with a second response.
“There are no reception issues. Stay Tuned.”
Stay tuned? Are we getting another letter from Jobs? Will Apple be releasing another PR statement? When users are clearly having issues, how does Apple expect to explain the, “non-issue?”
MacRumors linked to a report by AppleInsider that explains the ‘Death Grip’ may be resolved tomorrow with the release of an iOS 4 update. The issue may be expected to be software related rather than hardware related, in that the iPhone may have issues switching between frequencies as the user’s hands interrupt service. AppleInsider suggests,
The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.
If Apple can fix these issues with nothing but a software update, they will quell customers’ only complaints with the phone asides from scratches and occassional chirps about App Store policies. Otherwise, Apple will face a year of destructive criticism that could hinder sales – it’s bad enough that some customers already can’t make calls using AT&T’s network, the last thing Apple needs is a phone that makes the issue worse.