Recap of iPhone 4 antenna issue press conference


Apple CEO Steve Jobs took to the stage today to address concerns about the Apple iPhone 4’s antenna design and cellular reception issues.

After an admission that Apple was not perfect, he started with a bit of background. Calling the iPhone 4 “perhaps the best product we’ve ever made”, he revealed that over 3 million have now been sold. He also acknowledged that reception issue complaints started almost as soon as the iPhone 4 went on sale, culminating in ‘Antennagate’.

Jobs began by demonstrating that the phenomenon of signal degradation is not unique to the iPhone. A similar behaviour can be reproduced on other smartphones, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, DROID Eris, Samsung Omnia 2. Basically, Antennagate is not limited to Apple (Are Apple customers that much more vociferous then?) Apple also does extensive testing of all products and the iPhone 4 was no exception. 18 PhD scientists and engineers were responsible for testing and had access to 17 anechoic chambers set up by Apple at a cost of about US$100 million.

As far as the severity of the issue, Jobs reported that only 0.55% of customers have called Apple about reception issues (I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg who admitted to smashing her iPhone 4 was one of them). The return rate at AT&T is also very low (about 1.7 percent – compare that to about 6 percent for the 3GS).

Data does show that the iPhone 4 drops more calls than the iPhone 3GS. Without giving specific numbers, it drops about 1 more call per 100 than the iPhone 3GS does. One reason for this increase could be that fewer customers are buying cases for the iPhone 4 (the selection is more limited as the device is still quite new).

Jobs concluded that the situation had been “blown way out of proportion.” At the same time, Apple wants its customers to be happy and is proposing the following:

  • The iOS 4.0.1 update is now available to correct the signal strength display issue
  • Free bumpers will be given to all iPhone 4 customers up to September 30th (and refunds for those who already bought one)
  • Customers will have 30 days to return the iPhone 4 for a full refund if not satisfied

Jobs wrapped up with a couple of other updates:

  • Apple is also working on reported problems with the proximity sensor.
  • White version of iPhone 4 to start shipping later this month
  • iPhone 4 to go on sale in 17 additional countries on July 30th (including Canada)

Jobs concluded with statements that “We love our users.” and that “There is no Antennagate.”

Are you satisfied with Apple’s explanation and plan to address this issue?