While maintaining that all mobile phones have problems with antenna reception, Apple is countering growing concerns over the iPhone 4 antenna by giving away free iPhone 4 bumpers, which correct the problem by keeping the hand away from the antenna. Combined with an update to the operating system, this should solve the problem people are having with the iPhone. Currently, Apple does not have enough supply to give out a free case to every iPhone 4 user, but they are working with third-parties to provide enough inventory.
Steve Jobs took the stage to demonstrate how the iPhone 4 isn’t alone in having problems with the antenna. Demonstrating that the same problem can be experienced on the Blackberry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris and other phones, Jobs explained that the loss of bars in signal strength and the time it takes for them to disappear depends on the algorithm used to calculate them.
He also reiterated that the iPhone’s operating system was incorrectly calculating the bars, which made the problem seem worse than it was. A new patch to iOS 4.0 corrects this issue.
Apple tests antenna reception in a state-of-the-art test facility that contains 17 padded rooms dubbed “anechoic chambers”. Jobs noted that Apple has spent 100 million dollars on antenna testing and has 18 scientists and engineers on staff to test the antenna.
The iPhone 4’s support center has logged .55% of calls on antenna issues, which Jobs noted was historically not a large number for them. The iPhone 4 has also had a significantly lower return rate, with only 1.7% of the phones being returned as opposed to 6% of iPhone 3GS units returned. However, data shows the iPhone 4 dropping more calls than the iPhone 3GS, though the rise in dropped calls is only around 1%.
Starting next week, iPhone 4 users can apply on the Apple website to receive a case of their own choosing.
Apple also announced that they are working on the problem with the proximity sensor, which should be fixed through a software update. The proximity sensor detects when the phone is being held to the ear, with some users reporting that the phone doesn’t properly go into sleep mode, resulting in the cheek touching on-screen buttons like the Mute or Hold buttons — not a good thing if you are trying to talk to someone and actually have them hear you.Are iPhone 4 antenna issues overblown?
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