Today Apple held a news conference of sorts. The ostensible purpose was to respond to concerns about the antenna design in the new iPhone 4. The real purpose was to see if everyone is as stupid as Apple seems to think we are.
Consider just the following two contentions about iPhone 4:
- It has the best reception of any iPhone to date.
- The iPhone 4 drops less than one additional call per 100 drops, when compared to the 3GS (according to AT&T data on call drops)
Apple attempted to use the second contention to describe the antenna problem as an illusory issue, suggesting that the drop rate is so close to the 3GS drop rate that it is just a part of life with a cell phone, and not a design error. This is false. Apple touted the antenna in the iPhone 4, and independent testing of the phone has confirmed that, when you aren't touching the call signal zone of death, the iPhone 4 has better reception than its predecessors. This is not surprising, given the big external antennas on the iPhone 4.
But if the iPhone 4 has a substantially better antenna, it should show a noticeable improvement in the drop rate. It does not. Based on Apple's own claims, I have to conclude that the most probable explanation for these observed results is that the external antenna holds calls longer, but suffers precipitous signal failure. In other words, the design flaw slightly overwhelms the overall improvement in the antenna over the long haul. You will probably have fewer drops in high signal strength areas, but you will drop more calls in low signal strength areas if you hold the phone like any normal person would.
I have an iPhone 3GS. It is a very nice phone. I have looked appreciatively at the iPhone 4. But I don't like being called an idiot, and my intended upgrade to the iPhone 4 is going on the back burner. I will give Windows Phone 7 a very thorough examination before deciding whether to give Apple another chance. This isn't a problem with all smartphones (I also have a Blackberry Bold 9700, which has no such problem - for that matter, neither does my iPhone 3GS). This is apparently a problem with a phone that was designed first and foremost with materials and appearance in mind.
My advice to Apple: if you are going to go to the trouble to hold a news conference to address a widely-reported potential flaw in the normal use-case design of one of your flagship products, don't view that time as your chance to offer contradictory assertions as you bitterly deny that anything unusual is going on with your new phone. It is just insulting. Just admit it, say you will work on a fabrication correction to the issue, and move on. A bit of humility goes a long way with the average consumer; Apple evidently has none. Here's your free rubber bumper (you crybabies).
View videos provided from Apple. Via Engadget.