Steve Jobs is right, but Apple made a poor design decision

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Steve Jobs is right, but Apple made a poor design decision
Apple CEO Steve Jobs is absolutely correct. All smartphones do have a weak spot that when covered could lead to a drop in signal strength and cause calls to drop. But it has been pointed out that the exec also has made a serious mistake. After he showed videos of the BlackBerry Bold 9700,  HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Omnia losing signal strength after being held with the infamous "death-grip". Since the press conference, YouTube has been inundated with videos showing other handsets losing signal bars when held in the "death-grip". The problem is, none of those videos make any sense because not every handset has the antenna placed in the same location as the iPhone 4. So while a touch in the lower left corner does it for the Apple unit, the EVO 4G has its antenna placed on the top of the phone. And here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where Mr. Jobs makes a faulty point. With the EVO 4G, you can hold it in the usual manner and not lose bars. Jobs didn't lie, because the handset-like any other-will lose bars if its weak area is touched, but most manufacturers have designed their handset so that the weakness is not exposed by merely holding the phone in the usual way. So to reiterate, all smartphones will lose bars if gripped tightly. But not all smartphones have their antenna located in the same spot as the iPhone 4 which means that most will allow you to hold them in the customary manner as tight as you want without a problem. What this means is that for Apple to eliminate the problem for good, future units will either need to have a coating around the offending gap in antennas, or the iPhone 4 will need to be redesigned to move the antennas so that the gap appears on a spot that is less likely to be squeezed. The rubber bumpers are a temporary solution which is why Consumer Reports remains unmoved by Apple's "generosity". Bottom line-HTC made a good design decision and Apple didn't. Simple enough.

Apple iPhone 4 Specifications | Review
HTC EVO 4G Specifications | Review

source: AndroidGuys



1. ilia1986 unregistered

Yes. I think we all knew this. But let me tell you - Steve believes that this is a design CHOICE, and not a design MISTAKE. He has said that he loves the new antennae design - and that it does improve reception. The price? You need to be careful where and how you hold it. Or use a bumper. This was his choice. Yes, he didn't anticipate that a 1 millimeter-thin spot could cause so many problems and so much media coverage - this was obviously his mistake - but the Antennae design is his choice. A lot of people will say that this is a bad choice. A lot will also say that this is a good one. How shall we know? Lets look at the sales of this in several months - and then we will know the answer.

2. vzwtechbill

Posts: 175; Member since: Mar 16, 2009

I don't see this as having a huge impact on sales of the Iphone. Go to youtube and search for the iphone vs evo video, that's the general mentality of consumers. I dare say, despite all the hype, your average Joe doesn't spend enough time researching products to learn about or realize the issues in the design until affected by them. And those in the know probably bought an Android phone anyway :P

3. ilia1986 unregistered

Ah yes of course, all the iPhone users are iSheep, and all the smart people use Android. We heard that before.

4. gridlock

Posts: 31; Member since: Jun 10, 2010

@ilia - dude, stop saying antennae, i like your arguments, but when it's re: electronics, the plural is antennas, antennae is when you talk about insects, look it up. Now, that Antennagate is a bug in the Apple, is a totally different story :-))) They'll fix it, move on, people...

5. ilia1986 unregistered

Well - I stand corrected. Antenna.

28. badfishie

Posts: 15; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I love that video it is so TRUE about iPhone buyers

38. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

I think it's so funny that people think they are smart(er) because they have Android. Half of the people on this site are idiots, and that's android and iPhone users/fanboys included.

47. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Sales figures have nothing to do with either quality of product or whether or not the antenna is a design flaw. It is. Steve Jobs was obfuscating when he said all phones suffer from the same issue. All phones can and do lose signal if the antenna's sensitive area is blocked by the hand - they lose a few db. The two iphone antennae are jumpered together by the users skin/sweat/oils, causing a dramatice 20-24db drop. This was not duplicated in any other phone tested by anand or CR. This issue is unique among current smartphones. Just because the phone sells, doesn't mean Steve was correct. The Backstreet Boys sold millions of albums - 'nuff said. Many (not all) consumers purchase based on style over substance. I have to do the car shopping in my family, because my wife would buy a car based solely on the color and design. She wouldn't care to look into reliability, economy, warranty. It's pretty - take my money. The iPhone is very pretty. It's also low maintenance. It also happens to do many things very well. It also has in it's history had several issues, which Apple fanboys vehemently defend, and Apple itself lies about. This antenna issue is just the latest case. It's a shame that so many are willing to let Apple get away with whatever they choose.

60. messiah

Posts: 438; Member since: Feb 19, 2010

it is not about being smarter by owning a particular product, it is about being informed and making better purchasing choices. And, incidentally, Android users are more intelligent. :)

7. testman22

Posts: 339; Member since: Nov 03, 2009

I really thought that the press conference was going to be an opportunity for apple to take the higher road in this situation. They did the right thing with the bumpers, but they really should have owned up and taken the heat for their mistakes. Instead they went to pointing fingers which is a business tactic borrowed from kindergarden.

8. Templer16

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 09, 2009

I think phonearena has this agruement down pretty good, it was a design flaw putting the antnna bridge in the lower left hand corner. But I really dont think this is real the story nor what all the media hype has truely been about. It has way more to do with Jobs than the i4. Here is a man that made the wrong anntenna design choice flat out he was wrong, no way to argue it (even though I have to admit when I saw it I was impressed thought it was great) So the real story is how Job refuses to A: Honest and B: Responsible is amazing and for that this story wont be stopping anytime soon. Now this isnt the first or the last company to act this way but its STEVE JOBS and APPLE! Their brand was helped built upon these kind of ideals and images. All the jokes about Jobs having a god complex are starting to look more and more true when you have a man who cannot admit when hes wrong and just decides to point out everyone elses flaws instead of fix his own

9. BlackberryUser

Posts: 609; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

This is probably the BEST PA article I've ever read.


Posts: 147; Member since: Sep 22, 2009

He may be right about cell phones losing signal if held a certain way, but the iPhone4 will drop calls if held in a NORMAL way! What other cell phone drops a call when you hold it? He just doesn't get it! His mighty new iPhone is not so mighty after all, and instead of pointing fingers at other phones, why won't you admit there is a problem with your stupid shiny new iPhone and fix it, rather than just offering customers a bumper.

12. ilia1986 unregistered

Well I do have to ask you - how do you think he can fix it? Recall all the phones? Out of the question as it sells so hysterically. Redesign a new model with a different antenna? It would take too long, and by then the next gen iPhone will arrive anyway. Magically seal that X-spot on everyone's phones using little gnomes and fairies? What would you have done in his place? Other than admitting that there has been a serious mistake which was made - which doesn't do anything but hurt sales and stock values, and partly satisfy the hurt feelings of those who feel so much passion towards this issue..


Posts: 147; Member since: Sep 22, 2009

YES! Do a recall fanboy, instead of selling a defective product. Apple sets the bar high, their supposed to be better, not sub par. The brand is tainted now, and the consumer has seen Apple's idea of a solution, and most are not happy. But I guess the fanboys and iSheep will always be loyal and defend their glorious iPhone.

16. ilia1986 unregistered

As I said - out of the question. If Steve were to recall the iPhone 4 now - His board of directors would probably remove him from his position - claiming temporary insanity. You don't remove a product which has sold 3 million units within 22 days from the shelves - unless that product kills people upon exposure. And I would like to once again say that I am no fanboy - I just think from the business perspective of things. I suggest that if you are to see the entire picture - you do the same. So - from the consumer point of view - this new antenna design is probably a bad decision on his part, because a lot of people complain, and this causes problems to left-handed people. From a business point of view - It sells. So it doesn't matter what is actually going on with the product. As for me - I am not a consumer yet, so I have no reason to see this from the consumer's point of view. I, however, study economics and management, and because of this I am inclined to see this from Apple's perspective - from the business point of view.

30. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

illia, you dont know much about business do you? While yes, recalling the iphone4 would cost over a billion dollars in lost profit by estimates, not recalling it can lead to even more bad PR, which can cost them a lot more in the long run from lost sales of this and next generation iphones as people will be more willing to make the leap to the competition.. Android, Windows 7, Blackberry 6, and even WebOS are all going to make new customers off this issue. He had a chance to really shine and prove to all of us "apple haters" that he really is good enough for his god complex, and issue a recall and an appology... or this is what i would have done in his shoes... "hey, we messed up, we are going to go fix the problem at the factory and put some shielding on the antenna. Its a 1 cent fix. We'll give you bumpers for now, and as soon as the new iphone4s are rolling off the assembly line, everyone can have a free warranty exchange to the new fixed iphone4. Were really sorry about the issue and we will fix it for you". Look, no recall, fixed phone, temp solution to keep customers happy, lots of positive PR, and probably a reenergized customer base from handling it so well... but that didnt happen. instead you get a finger pointing match, a denial of a real problem, lack of a permanent solution, and a temporarily free bumper.... and the negative press continues on. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing.

33. ilia1986 unregistered

Yes but you are welcomed to read my commend on this very issue on the next page - seeing as I don't want to just double-post stuff in this thread. =)

46. Templer16

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 09, 2009

ilia your logic has sound business merits to it. On paper doing a recall doesnt make much business sense, but it is the right thing to do. To be honest its that same "In the name of Capitalism" BS that has our economy so completely screwed to begin with. Apple is just like another AIG or Goldman that takes money from clients by issuing false promises and show no remorse for their actions. I mean look at Jobs in his speech, his product is essesiantly broken and hes smug about it cause "WHO CARES I SOLD 3 MILLION OF EM!" Its sad that integrity just had another company step on its back for profits. Oh BTW remixfa is right look at Toyota, had one small outside instance which was handled with denial and look at their sales now....

49. CRICKETownz

Posts: 980; Member since: Oct 24, 2009

Well the fact is that we are not in his place, Steve Jobs is in his own place and this is his problem. Somethin needs to be done about the issue and providing bumpers seems like a cheap way out but i do understand that one of the rules of business is to avoid admitting failure while fixing the issue in the meantime. Kinda interestin how various Apple users are excusing this situation. If this were Google, i think Applets would be all over this with no sympathy.

54. hornetmx

Posts: 71; Member since: Mar 12, 2010

+1 That's probably your best posting ever. I still think you and HOVA come up with some sorry ass excuses to defend apple, but anyone who isnt a fanboy would agree with the above statement. If people dont like it, then they shouldnt keep buying it. I do not like apple, but I'm glad they are an american company doing well. I wouldnt entertain the iphone because of AT&T, period. It still puzzles me how Jobs can choose a design that is going to bring you negative publicity, at best, if you dont want to call it a design flaw. I guess they are starting to rush a little bit to try and keep up with Android. Apple better be careful....american consumers are forgiving, but you dont want to push you luck. Ask sprint/nextel what happens if you become to cocky and careless.

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

I think the sane people who have commented on this article have expressed my sentiments already: Jobs doesn't get that the mistake was the placement of the weak spot. It's like when Crown Vics had a design flaw that caused a bolt from the back bumper to fly into the gas tank and blow them up if they were rear ended. Could Ford just say "well, other companies also have gas tanks that can explode if something hits them the right way."? No. Jobs deliberately distorted the issue with his claim that "well, OTHER phones do it too!"

48. tedkord

Posts: 17357; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Jobs outright lied. Other phones do NOT have the same issue. If it were the same issue, a bumper would not solve it. It's the jupmering of the two antennas by the user's skin that causes a 20-s4dbm drop in signal. A normal smartphone, with it's signal blocked by the hand loses less than 10dbm.


Posts: 52; Member since: Feb 01, 2010

The only thing that apple has going for them is their products sexiness.

15. NOVAinc

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 24, 2010

Guys, I've got my own theory about this, it's based on common sense and some facts. Please if you're not willing to think just SKIP THIS POST. Having said this, I'll proceed. To me, it makes much more sense that this is not a design thing, it's a production problem. Foxconn didn't assemble the phone as they were supposed to. I'd say that it was because of the huge pressure and the hurry. It's IMPOSSIBLE that it was a design thing, it's a problem that you can't ignore, and after one year of testing it's NOT possible that they didn't note it. Remember the yellow spots? They disappeared within some days, but they were the clear evidence of the hurry in the production... And how about the wrong placed volume buttons? It makes sense that they step the coating or changed the material that they were supposed to use. Also, note that the newer iPhones are working properly and their design remain the same, just that these units are coated. Haven't you hear of the propel who got their phones replaced? Well, today USA received a new load but these phones have been manufactured as they should have been from the very beginning. This explains many things... Also the limit of the bumpers giveaway. If they are gonna replace the units without coating the coat... I don know it, nobody knows. Ok so if you want to reply to argue anything please feel free to do so. If you want to say something like "u dumb ass fuck you, me android better you more worse" or "Steve is the devil, I'm telling you!" please refer to

17. ilia1986 unregistered

Well, I cannot say with certainty that this is indeed a production problem - and that is merely because of the fact that I don't know all the important technical details when it comes to in-depth analysis of this antenna issue. If the problem is caused by that gap which separates the 2 antennas - than this is clearly not a production issue - as Steve has demonstrated the gap himself during WWDC commenting that "this is not apple". If, however, the problem is caused by some internal lack of coating - than of course it is apparent that you are right. One can also attribute the yellow spots to that reason as well. Which is it then? Time will tell.

18. iHateCrapple

Posts: 734; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

Your theory makes sense. But why wouldn't they just come out and say it? "Our bad; our cheap, outsourced labor in China made a mistake." People are up in arms right now because it seems to be a bunch of excuses and a half assed fix...

21. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

NOVAinc, this theory of yours doesn't hold water. You can not blame the people who make the phone for this issue because Jobs himself already said its because of where the antenna is located. That has nothing to do with production and everything to do with engineering. Production workers have no say so on where to place anything in your device. And as much as it would make sense to do so, testing a device in a lab or on the production floor doesn't consist of placing a phone in both hands and placing a call. The operator puts the unit into a machine, the machine run about 100 or so test for correct voltage, frequencies and connectivity. If all the circuits are lit, it green-lights the device and sends it out for packaging. There is no possible way that the production workers could have foreseen this happening. This was a design choice/problem that Apple made, you cant blame the production workers for that.

22. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

That is a plausible theroy... but if true means that there are defects in the iP4 from production, not just some possibly poor design choices. If there are production defects then yes, Apple would be on the hook for more than just a free bumper. It would be a word that sounds similar to, "free fall"...

23. NOVAinc

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 24, 2010

@Ihatecrapple: I typed a long reply but my phone ran out of memory and the browser crashed. So I'm gonna resume it like this - I have been involved in some production stuff, and even if I never had to make XX million of units of anything I can say that right now, with issues and everything, apple clearly depends much more of foxconn than what foxconn depends of apple. Basically, a fight would stop the production process and it would be a huge damage to apple. @whateverman: As I said, I base my theory on common sense, some personal experience, and it makes much more sense to me but that's just IMHO. as I said, it seems much more reasonable a production issue than a design one... You have seen all the cameras and the time they spent to test the phone, they would have to be very dumb not to note this issue... And I don't think a company who got to sell 1.7 million phones in three days is dumb, and you may think that those are iSheeps if you wish... But it doesn't look like a dumb company could get to have millions of people to follow them blindly, right? ;)

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