Apple Addresses the iPhone Signal Issue
July 16, 2010 – by Per Christensson
Steve Jobs addressed the press today regarding the iPhone 4 signal issue. He began by comparing the iPhone's signal to other smartphones, including RIM, HTC, and Samsung models. The videos he presented showed the signal level drop when each of the phones were held in a certain way. Therefore, he explained that the signal reduction was not exclusive to the iPhone 4.
Jobs also provided some concrete numbers regarding the iPhone 4. The return rate has been 1.7% (less than one third the rate of the iPhone 3GS), which is pretty amazing for a new phone model. The dropped call rate is slightly more, but less than one more per hundred calls than the iPhone 3GS. Jobs described the media hype over the issue as "Antennagate" and said it has been blown way out of proporition. Still, Jobs insisted Apple wants all customers to be happy, so the company is offering free cases to all users who have purchased an iPhone 4. Apple is also offering a full refund (with no restocking fee) within 30 days of any users who are not satisfied with their new iPhones.
I think Steve Jobs handled the situation well and Apple went above and beyond what was necessary by offering all users free cases. Apple will provide customers with a choice of free cases on the company website and will begin ship them to users next week. Users who have already purchased cases can contact Apple for a refund. That is pretty impressive customer service and I believe it will go a long way to building customer loyalty. Offering third-party cases also helps Apple's partners since the company is not forcing customers to buy an Apple-branded case.
But one question remains unanswered. Why does an iPhone case prevent the signal from attenuating? If an external case solves the problem, shouldn't that insulation be built into the phone? Since most complaints seemed to surface with the first iPhone 4 shipments, I wonder if Apple did in fact fix the issue with more recent models. Providing free cases and offering a full refund to current owners is a fair solution, but I am still not convinced the antenna issue never existed.