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Apple knew of potential iPhone 4 antenna issue?

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, July 15, 2010
News Categories: iPhone

Apple knew the antenna design of the iPhone 4 could pose an issue, according to a new report. Citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that Ruben Caballero, a Senior Director of iPod/iPhone engineering described in the report as an antenna expert, warned company management about the potential perils of the design. According to the report, Caballero voiced his concerns in early planning meetings once the bezel antenna design had been chosen, saying that it might lead to dropped calls and would be an engineering challenge. Beyond Caballero, a separate Bloomberg source claimed that one of Apple’s carrier partners also expressed concern about the antenna, although the report does not specify the carrier’s name. Apple is expected to address the iPhone 4’s antenna issues in a press conference scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time tomorrow.

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Comments

1

The exchange could easily have been Cabellero voicing his concerns followed by brainstorming and a set of directions in which to proceed to make the design workable. A mere voicing of concerns is par for the course for a new design early in the cycle and so this story really is just revisionist history now that we know the end result.

Posted by David on July 15, 2010 at 8:47 AM (PDT)

2

Someone remind me of the incentive to upgrade from the 3GS to the iPhone 4? Or even to upgrade my 3GS to iOS 4?

Posted by Farnsworth on July 15, 2010 at 8:49 AM (PDT)

3

I just hold mine with salad tongs.

Posted by Don on July 15, 2010 at 9:10 AM (PDT)

4

@David: I completely agree with your point, but at the same time, Jobs spent the first week of antenna-gate denying a problem existed, bullying customers who wrote in for help and flat out telling them they were wrong. Aside from being an inexcusably dumb PR move, that stance hasn’t really been backed up by any info that’s come out since then (including this report). It’s looking more like Apple knew all along that this was an issue and, now that ignoring the problem didn’t work, they are finally owning up to it (which is par for the course in this industry, but we expect better from Apple).

Posted by getupkid on July 15, 2010 at 9:11 AM (PDT)

5

“The exchange could easily have been Cabellero voicing his concerns followed by brainstorming and a set of directions in which to proceed to make the design workable. A mere voicing of concerns is par for the course for a new design early in the cycle and so this story really is just revisionist history now that we know the end result.

Posted by David on July 15, 2010 at 8:47 AM (PDT)”

You really think that’s how it went?  More likely he was ignored because someone with more political clout WANTED the design (probably because it was his/her team that suggested it) and essentially shut down Cabellero.  That is how these meetings go and is why these problems appear.

It’s pretty hard to believe that this wasn’t wishful thinking on the part of a lot of people at Apple, who just couldn’t stop the train once it went out.  Being able to claim such a “New and revolutionary” design is the cocaine of choice for Apple execs, especially Jobs.  Ignoring the side effects is likely a matter of course in these situations.

And the consumer reaps the rewards, or lack thereof.

Posted by SantiagoDraco on July 15, 2010 at 9:16 AM (PDT)

6

@Farnsworth: The incentive to upgrade a 3GS to the iPhone 4 would primarily be the retina display, which I do think is much nicer.  I’d say stick an iPhone 4 in a case and you still have something sleeker and better than the 3GS. 

As far as upgrading a 3GS to iOS 4, I don’t see why you wouldn’t?  The ability to run my apps like ooTunes and Pandora in the background was enough for me.  And iOS 4 seemed to perform fine on my 3GS (I’ve heard it performs worse on older hardware though).

Posted by TomHandy on July 15, 2010 at 9:16 AM (PDT)

7

@#2, iOS 4.0 on my 3GS has been a delightful experience.  Not so much on my spare 3G, but on the 3GS everything has been improved.

Posted by DP on July 15, 2010 at 9:20 AM (PDT)

8

@Farnsworth - I agree with both 6 & 7. The iOS4 is a better option than the previous iOS. The “multitasking” and folders alone make it a nicer product.

As for the 3GS to iPhone 4 question. I got the new phone. I personally have not had issue one with either the proximity sensor OR the antenna problem. But, I have had a case on mine since day 1. I have taken it off a few times to test the reception issue. I have on two occasions had my bars drop from 4 to 1 or 2 when holding it “that way”. I had one dropped call. But, I also had two dropped calls with the case on and holding it the “right” way sitting in the same room. That is pretty par for the course in my area (D.C.) with AT&T. I know the issue is real, but it just hasn’t affected me yet.

It really comes down to your thoughts on cases. If you prefer cases for added grip, protection or simply fashion…this is a non-issue. If you want to show off the phone “sans skin”...you may see some degradation with certain hand positions. I feel the improved touchscreen, cameras and all-around new design were worth it. iOS4 runs considerably better on the 4 as well (it is a bit slow on the 3GS comparatively).

Posted by Mitch on July 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM (PDT)

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