Last Friday (July 16th, 2010), Apple held a press conference to address some of the antenna concerns on the iPhone 4. While some answers felt a little evasive, there were at least a few high points of the gathering.
To kick it off, visitors were shown the Antenna Song, which was posted on YouTube the day before.
Immediately following the video, Steve Jobs took the stage. A large part of his spiel was basically just going over some impressive numbers:
- 3,000,000 sales in three weeks
- 0.55% of iPhone 4 users have called about antenna or reception
- Return rate on iPhone 4 is 1.7%, compared to 6.0% for the iPhone 3GS
- iPhone 4 drops less than 1 additional call per 100 when compared to the 3GS
Steve’s “pet theory” as to why the iPhone 4 has a slightly higher drop rate goes like this…
“When the 3GS came out, we didn’t change the design from the 3G. So there were already lots of cases out there for the phone. And more than 80% of new buyers left the store with a case. Now the new phone doesn’t fit those cases, and we can’t make these bumpers fast enough, so only 20% leave the store with a case… but we’re going to figure it out.”
To divert some negative attention, the bar dropping issue was demonstrated on other smartphones as well:
- Blackberry Bold 9700
- HTC Droid Eris
- Samsung Omnia II
All of these phones showed that if you held it a certain way, then the bars would drop. However, during the Q&A, Ryan of Engadget asked, “You showed people almost covering the entire phone in their hand, but on the iPhone 4 it can happen with just a touch. Can you explain that difference?”
Bob Mansfield replied, “When you touch the phone, you put yourself between the signal and your phone, so when you touch that spot you can attenuate the signal, and if you grip it with your whole hand, you can attenuate it even more. We don’t build phones with an antenna on top…” Ryan wasn’t too satisfied with the response.
So what’s the solution to the antenna problem? You guessed it…get a bumper! Fortunately, Steve announced that every iPhone 4 purchased before September 30th will receive a free bumper or case.
That actually sounds like a pretty good sales move. They’re basically saying that the iPhone is flawed, but you’ll get a free band-aid if you buy one now.
Steve then followed up with this…
“And if you’re not happy, you can bring the phone back. We’ll give you a full refund within 30 days. No restocking fee. We want to make everyone happy, and if we can’t make you happy we’ll give you a full refund.”
As for the problems with the proximity sensor…they’re working on it.