The iPhone Antenna Thing

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the iPhone 4 and the antenna. For those who haven’t yet heard about the “scandal,” here’s a summation. The cellular antenna is located on the bottom of the iPhone, and is separated from the other antennas by a thin black line. Some people are having problems with dropped calls, particularly when they hold the iPhone in their left hand, so that they bridge the cellular antenna with the rest of the side panel. Some people are saying this is the biggest engineering/design failure in history, others don’t have a problem.

This situation was complicated when someone sent off an e-mail to Steve Jobs, who responded with something to the effect of, “Don’t hold it that way.” You can imagine how well that went with the iPhone haters. This problem can be fixed rather easily, by installing one of Apple’s Bumper cases, or just by installing any case at all. That, and not holding it in the pit of your left palm.

I have had a few problems with dropped calls on my iPhone 4, but I can’t tell for sure if it’s the result of holding the phone in my left hand or just because of the area I was in. I had already ordered a bumper for myself, but I decided to order one for my wife, just in case.

Now comes word that Boy Genius Report has obtained a leaked internal memo from Apple about the subject. Here’s how it goes:

1. Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy – your tone when delivering this information is important.

a. The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4’s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.

b. Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.

c. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.

d. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.

e. The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.

2. Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns.

3. Don’t forget YOU STILL NEED to probe and troubleshoot. If a customer calls about their reception while the phone is sitting on a table (not being held) it is not the metal band.

4. ONLY escalate if the issue exists when the phone is not held AND you cannot resolve it.

5. We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON’T promise a free bumper to customers.

Normally, I’d chalk this up to rumor mill garbage. However, BGR is usually pretty good with these kind of things, and I think it’s likely that Apple does have something like this floating around the call center. Ultimately, I still think this is a non issue, and I bet it’s likely to be fixed on the next update. Of course if it’s a hardware issue, then that’s a bit more complicated.

Comments

  1. My major problem is with the proximity sensor not working properly. My phone is dropping calls, muting calls, calling other people, etc.

    I have never been able to understand Apple’s arrogance when it comes to identifying, admitting, and solving issues.

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