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back to article The Wrath of Jobs' latest victim: Motorola

Motorola is the latest smartphone manufacturer to endure the Wrath of Jobs. That'd be Steve Jobs, of course, the armchair physicist who wants you to believe that the iPhone 4's external, touchable, and shortable antenna has reception problems equivalent to those experienced by phones that shield their antennas inside protective …

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FAIL

It's become laughable, not just petty.

Methinks Apple doth protesteth too much with this issue

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Actually, quite rational indeed...

If you think about it., this could be a very well-reasoned move. With so many voices all speaking up at once, most people will get confused and bored long before they understand what's really going on. So they'll probably take the answer they were already inclined to take, or the simple answer - and Jobs is good at making up simple, authentic sounding BS.

-d

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FAIL

A touch unwise.....

.....not to say, bloody stupid to start that kind of war. Does Jobs listen to his own marketing/PR people, or are they perfectly happy with this approach? He reacts to a couple of his rivals teasing him a bit by going to the mattresses against the whole of the rest of the industry. Is SJ beginning to loose the plot?

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Plot long lost

SJ has been becoming more and more unhinged - the poor fellow is clearly unwell, and he's certainly talking like a man with little to lose. It's sad, because he did a great job rekindling a dying Apple and creating a cult around a bunch of perfectly decent yet hardly magical or revolutionary computers. Now it's just a bit like watching a slow-motion crash, and I feel awful for him, poor bugger.

As for Apple, frankly I'd be surprised if their share price doesn't lose 30% at least when we do finally lose SJ, he is the cult, he is the brand.

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Anonymous Coward

Keep reading the Apple posts.

Do you really feel sorry for him with your predictable comment? Certain elements of the tech press went banana apeshit over this problem and blew it up to ridiculous proportions. Should Apple have not reacted the way they did? Why shouldn't they vigorously defend their brand and it IS the case that other phones suffer the same issues.

Clearly, there may well be an issue with the antenna externally which exacerbates the problem, however saying stuff like 'like watching a slow-motion crash' is just bandwagon jumping, boring p*sh.

'I feel awful for him', lol, oh dear.

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Troll

boring p*sh

My swear word convertors broke 'boring p*sh'?

And A/C defending the indefensible i'm guessing the Apple PR department just got in.

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FAIL

So..

If every other phone suffers from the same thing.. Will slipping a rubber band over the outside solve it?

No?

Then the problem is not the same, no matter how you hold it.

Sorry. But no matter how much you fanboys spring to the defensive, the problem is not shading the internal antenna with your hand causing a drop in signal, it's shorting the external antenna with your electrically conductive finger bridging the little black line.

The only way other phones could have the same problem is if they all used external antenna.

You may have swallowed the sermon, but the rest of us are not so gullible.

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Hello AC

My predictable comment? Well predicted! You predicted the future, I expect you used a magical and revolutionary device of some kind to do so.

Except it's not all about the iPhone4 antenna, it's also about a very public spat with Google, and another with Adobe, HTC, Motorola, etc..., where <strike>he picks bizarre fights with companies</strike> the courageous SJ speaks his mind in public. But even if it were all about the iPhone4 antenna, slinging crap at everyone else instead of saying 'whoops' looks a bit <strike>unhinged</strike> courageous and standing up for the small guy by making enemies.

Why make yourself a target on purpose? Why attempt to stir up fights you must ultimately suffer for? Companies which up until that point had just been benign competition now have an interest in damaging you. It makes it personal. It's not rational. I'm sure he's not malign, so must be a little <strike>bonkers</strike> out of touch. I haven't met and chatted with him, perhaps you have and can correct me from experience, but from the outside, looking at the evidence...I feel awful for him.

Apple's share price is high compared with their profits. Extremely high. I'm sure that'll correct itself presently. I feel awful for him.

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WTF?

I just cannot understand this...

... wasn't the "antennagate" a software problem? Displaying "upto twice as many bars" which "disappeared" to reveal the actual performance when held in the "death grip"? Do all the phones now display the wrong signal bars?

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Umm, no

It's a problem that all phones have. Ummm, except if you have a free case. Or maybe all the other phones have it even with a case. Because they also have buggy software. Unless you've installed the latest updates. Or something.

The only thing I've found surprising in all this is the complete gracelessness with which several of the other manufacturers have responded. They still come out looking better than Apple, but I think a lot worse than they could have done.

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@no..

Antennagate is two problems. Firstly, there is/was a software problem with it showing the wrong signal level. (I believe iOS 4.0.1 corrects this)

However, a much deeper problem, is that it is possible to affect the performance of the antenna by holding the phone in a certain way. This is (unlikely) to be fixable via software/firmware updates - hence the free case offer from Apple.

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3 problems

There are 3 problems; (i) software problem reporting too high a signal, (ii) blocking of signal, (iii) death grip.

Issue 1 has been claimed to have fixed.

Issue 2 is the one that many/all phones suffer from. If you know where the antenna is located on a phone then you can surround it with hands and watch the signal drop.

Issue 3 is the current outstanding Apple unique problem and is the result of human touch altering the antenna characteristics. However #2 and #3 have similar looking results, and so Jobs is able to spread FUD and muddy the waters.

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Go

Well ...

... yeah.

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Go

So You Think ...

...arrogance and childish stupidity should be rewarded with grace? Not in the business world. Well, only if you and your business still live at home with momma.

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Paris Hilton

Fourth Problem

Fanbois who are willing and complicit in the propagation of said FUD.

Paris, FUD me sideways...

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More power needed

The Reality Distortion Field is struggling and needs more power to overcome the facts.

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FAIL

Facts?

Which facts would those be? That only the iPhone 4 loses signal when held "normally", when its clearly been demonstrated that other phones do it to?

If anything, some other reality distortion field is in place overpowering Steve Jobs' and Steve's having to fall back on the facts.

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Stop

Whut

I've got a HTC smartphone. If I hold it tightly with both hands clasped around it it loses one or two bars. If you hold it normally, it doesn't lose anything.

If you touch an Iphone with one finger in the wrong place it loses three, four or more bars.

Jobs has set up a nice straw man for you all and you've swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Two problems, one less serious and common, one more serious and unique to the Iphone.

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FAIL

Actually....

If I put my finger over the two contacts....... Nothing happens.

If I put my whole hand over the entire side of the phone....... Nothing happens.

Have tried it with 3 different iPhone 4's.

So, either like my music teacher said, I'm a poor conductor, or a whole lot of apple haters have fallen for the hype regarding a minority problem.

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Can they do that?

I'm absolutely stunned at that apple smartphone antenna performance page not only is it quite hilarious and stinks of desperation, I didn't think anything like that would be legal!

Bring back external unscrewable antennas that made you look cool

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Its like the shampoo comercials

Where they show BRAND X leaving your hair dull and lifeless then turn up the gamma and contrast for the shot of Apple Scented Shampoo.

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Jobs Horns

RE: Apple Scented Shampoo

The difference between Apple Scented Shampoo and other shampoo is that other shampoo is intended for use outside of the head, as a topical cleanser, meant for cleansing the housing in which the brain is carried as well as the objects that decorate said housing.

Apple Scented Shampoo on the other hand is designed for cleansing the objects inside of the head*, specially formulated for enlightenment and clarity, enriching the mind with a unique combination of jobsian vitamins and minerals that give the user a lifetime of undying love and devotion. Special antioxidants wash away impure thoughts and negativity that may be caused by doubt, reality or rabid banter from the great unwashed.

*Special care must be given when administering, overuse may result in extreme behavior malfunctions and these malfunctions may be irreversible, see the following as an example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_qWXTuzVxE&feature=channel

If this sort of behavior is observed, discontinue use immediately and seek professional help at once!

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Anonymous Coward

The crazy thing is...

... it doesn't seem to have impacted that much on sales yet?

I'd thought about getting an iPhone, but decided, aside from signal troubles, being 'locked down' to the whim of his almighty jobiness, wasn't worth it.

Got an HTC Desire instead.

Many other people may do the same, but they are the 'geek set' - those that like to tinker under the hood.

It would be interesting to see the sales figures before and after 'Antennagate? (wtf?)'

A lot of people at my office that own iPhone 3's are considering switching to an Android based smart phone, rather than opting to upgrade to the iPhone 4.

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Pint

"You're holding it wrong"

Apple's brand is still very strong and even with this design error customers are still very happy as the iPhone is currently at a fashionable sweet spot. This one engineering error won't ruin the brand or affect sales too much. But it's definitely a scratch on the brand. "You're holding it wrong" is already becoming associated with technical problems and is tied in with the Apple brand.

With the competition breathing down Apple's neck with similarly capable and just as easy to use devices costing less than half price, it is going to get increasingly difficult to differentiate and justify charging such a hefty premium for a commodity. Premium brands must be managed carefully. I guess it's arguable that Apple's smoke bomb - all phones have issues - might work until they can manufacture hardware without this *fundamental* error. But if that doesn't work Apple will have a job on their hands. People are already switching from iPhone to Android when they renew their phone although the churn is probably less than new users.

In a recent test c't magazin was able to give slightly better marks for phone reception to the iPhone over the Nexus and the Desire (identical apart from the second mike on the nexus) and the Samsung Galaxy. But all the droids wiped the floor with the iPhone when it came to Wifi, which is an issue for price sensitive users. And price will, at some point, become an issue for users. Interestingly the one area where the iPhone still shines is battery life but it wouldn't surprise me to see the droids catching up before the end of the year - a more aggressive strategy on multitasking at the OS level and bigger, Li-Polymer batteries would probably do the trick.

For full disclosure: I'm a happy owner of a Samsung Wave (multitasks quite well, wonderful screen and not too big but battery life could be better) and pay € 15 per month with 100 minutes talk time and unlimited data. I could afford an iPhone but cannot ,for the life of me, see why it is worth the extra money, especially as it has a fundamental engineering error - a phone that drops calls isn't a phone. But I am also a happy MacBook owner.

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Antennagate vs Bloatware

"A lot of people at my office that own iPhone 3's are considering switching to an Android based smart phone, rather than opting to upgrade to the iPhone 4."

Until they hear about the pitfalls of Android and then they'll think again.

Androids been given a bit of a free run in the comments lately so in the interests of balance and the like...

• Un installable bloatware placed on many devices.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/07/android-junkware.html

• Inconsistent and fragmented versions of the OS. Causing cross Android app incompatibility.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/jul/21/android-version-market-share-google

• Malware apps

http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-10466230-245.html

• Lockdown creeping in by the back door

http://www.osnews.com/story/23584/Motorola_Droid_X_Disappointments

• Carriers and manufacturers slow or refusing OS upgrades

• Inconsistant UI's across devices.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/189969/google_android_is_doomed_to_selfdestruct.html

• Lack of a secure safe walled garden for apps and media (And yes, non tech-heads appreciate such things)

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9179424/Apple_App_Store_s_security_track_record_unblemished_after_two_years

Despite not being able to make phone calls if held wrong. iPhone offers a consistent well designed secure platform for consuming media and apps that is accessible to all. It has a clear software upgrade path with all iPhone's -except the first generation- being able to run the latest iOS version.

Compare that to Android which is at risk of combining all the fragmentation issues that surround open source along with all the security and bloatware issues we have come to associate with cheap Windows boxes.

We have been here before, do we really want to go down that path again?

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Complaints about Android

Actually, the only complaint about Android that I've regularly heard is the battery life. Battery life on many Android phones really sucks. Of course, having a replaceable battery mitigates that a little, since you can in theory carry a spare battery, or more likely buy a large capacity after-market battery.

I've run through your list of FUD, and most are invalid (eg Android has a safe walled garden for apps and media - the market - it is also simple to install apps from elsewhere, but you need to change settings to do it). That means it is usable by both the tech literate and the rest - whereas to install apps from outside the store on the iPhone you have to root the phone.

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FAIL

Erm

"Despite not being able to make phone calls if held wrong. iPhone..."

What is it again? I'll give you a clue, it's in the first word of the next sentence (which I've helpfully added to the quote). What is the primary purpose of one of those again?

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Anonymous Coward

Petty?

Oh yes, I am finding this whole Antennagate thing petty, but not in the way you want us to.

The pettiness comes in the continued slagging off of Apple. Other smartphones have the same results, namely signal loss. Fact.

Deal with it.

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Fact? Reality distortion field strikes again!

Thats the problem you see, it actually ISN'T FACT, its bollocks spewed out by a desperate marketing department...

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Let's entertain the troll

OK, suppose that all smartphones have this problem. Question: why didn't anyone notice before the iPhone 4? I mean, all these smartphones dropping calls when held in a normal, incorrect, way...

(Also, if it's an antenna thing, why is it only smartphones that are affected, why not all phones? Is it something to do with the shape, meaning people hold them in different places?)

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Megaphone

Re: Petty

No AC, Apple fucked up big style with the iPhone 4. None of Job's 'smoke and mirrors' can make that fact go away. Only the deluded fanbois believe his "There is no Antennagate" bullshit.

Deal with it.

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Anonymous Coward

I agree

I've had my iPhone 4 since launch and I've yet to have the signal drop when using the phone normally. It's only when I deliberately bridge the antennas that I ever see the problem.

It's not that I'm holding it the Approved Steve Jobs Way TM and it doesn't have a bumper, it's just the only way to bridge both antennas is to hold the phone in an unnatural way, and that's the case with either left or right hand.

This whole thing seems like an excuse for the media to get a few extra hits for their stats and for Android fanbois to vent because the iPhone 4 has put the iPhone back on top (aside from still not having Flash).

I'm increasingly in danger of sounding like an Apple fanboi myself... but I've no interest in owning any of Apple's desktop offerings, nor their laptops or iPads, I just happen to think that the iPhone 4 is being unfairly smeared, and having used Android phones myself, iOS is definitely better to use and has more apps that I'd want to use. Or is Plants vs Zombies on Android now?

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Not unnatural

I was having this conversation with my co-worker on Friday; I picked up his iPhone 4 and held it the way I would hold it when having a conversation. My little finger naturally rested on the gap and caused a 1 bar reduction (from4 bars to 3 bars). That's because I hold cellphones with it resting in the palm of my hand. In contrast my coworker holds the phone with the tips of his fingers and it was nowhere near the gap.

Different people hold phones in different ways; neither is natural or unnatural. It's just different.

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My HTC must be broken

I completely surrounded it with both hands leaving a slight gap between my fingers to look through and it still didn't drop a bar.

There must be something wrong as it isn't matching the "performance" of other smartphones.

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Linux

You're missing the point...

The iPhone 4 is the first (and only) phone I know of where they have put the antenna outside the phone, with all its bare metal free for anyone to touch. No other phone manufacture has done that.

I have the phone myself - it's my first (entry level) iPhone. I figured, since I've waited this long to get one, I might as well jump in at V4 - because, one would expect by then, they've got most of the bugs and crap sorted out from the previous 3 versions. Evidently, this is not the case!

Even if I take my £5 rubber eBay case off it (I have a much better free case on order, curtsey of Apple), and grip it as shown in the videos, I can't cause the signal to drop. Having said that, I have some mains powered studio speakers on my desktop and if you put any phone close enough to them, you can hear the signal. Interestingly (just as I was in the middle of typing this message), if I hold the phone where the two separators are, I hear nothing on the speakers - let go, I then hear lots of noises.

I'm not an antenna expert, but that's enough to convince me that the phone has a problem - it doesn't appear to affect me too much, but evidently it is affecting a few. A rubber case solves the problem, in most cases.

Apple deserve to be slagged off, in my opinion. I'm mostly a PC user, but I use Apple products at work. They make nice kit, but it is, as so many people have said, style over substance. And mostly, their 'shit' keeps on breaking (lookup the number of iPods which consistently fail after a years worth of usage). And they love to charge almost 3x more for their 'style over substance' products, compared to other manufacturers.

I recently bought a Sony VAIO laptop - I wanted a high speed laptop, with Blu-Ray and HD screen. No Apple product can deliver that because they won't support blu-ray! And, it cost me about a 3rd of the price of a high end MacBook.

They deserve to get nailed. Jobs and his PR handling in this matter is appalling and if anything makes me regret buying the iPhone 4, its not because it doesn't work for me (I have a soft spot for its retina display) - it's because I seem to have purchased it from manufacture that loves dissing other manufactures to make themselves look like they are 'gods gift to mobile phones' - when, in reality, they just aren't!

Jobs, sort it out mate. You're making yourself look like a complete arrogant tw*t!

Tux - because unlike both Apple and Microsoft products, Linux just works and it is, categorically, the only OS I've come across that doesn't f**k me off and do weird 'blue-screen/freeze ups' on me for no apparent -good- reason, unlike the crap witnessed in this video:

http://www.tuaw.com/2010/07/22/ios-4-and-iphone-3g-is-a-match-made-in-whats-the-opposite-of/

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Grenade

@ Stike Vomit

Are you saying then, that the multidue of videos both before and after antennagate showing signal drops on other devices are fakes? Is it your position that Steve Jobs has a flux capacitor in the Cupertino campus, has somehow accelerated it to the requisite 88 Miles per hour, gone back in time a few months and planted those pre-antennagate videos personally?

Who's trying to distort reality here, really?

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Jobs Horns

I disagree

I've had a iPhone 4 since a couple of weeks after launch and I get signal drop all the time when using the phone normally. It's not only when I deliberately bridge the antennas that I ever see the problem.

Even though I'm right handed I tend to hold phones with my left hand to my left ear, I guess it's so I can still do things whilst on a call. The corner of the phone rests in the ball of my hand, I don't see how one can hold it any other way frankly, thus connecting the two antenna accidentally is a hazard and if it accidentally happens ... dropped call.

It's really starting to piss me off.

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Agree.

I like many other right-handed people hold my phone (currently "dumb-phone") in my left hand. Not exactly unusual in fact, something that Axxxx could have discovered with a couple of seconds research.

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This effect has been known for years.

That is what is so funny about this whole affair. There are videos on YouTube going back years showing various phones from Nokia to Motorola to Apple to HTC showing serious signal attenuation (and loss) when a phone is held a specific way. That really is a FACT all the Apple haters want to sweep under the rug so they can pretend this is new with the iPhone 4.

Can the iPhone 4 drop calls when held a specific way? Yes (I've Done it).

Can the Droid X drop calls when held a specific way? Yes (I've Done it).

Can the HTC HD2 drop calls when held a specific way? Yes (I've Done it).

Can the Droid Incredible drop calls when held a specific way? Yes (I've Done it).

Are these unnatural ways of holding the phone. In all cases, these are natural holding methods for some people. Some people grip a phone in the middle, some at the top and some at the bottom. Personally, I tend to hold these single all screen touch phones more from the top. So from that standpoint, it is EQUALLY easy on all the above phones once you figure out HOW to do it. One is not special. The iPhone 4 does NOT "detune" the antenna when the bridge is "shorted". The iPhone simply attenuates the signal when held at that point.

The final question is: Does this simple fact detract from any of the above phones in anyway? No.

Companies like Nokia, HTC and Motorola were idiots for trying to spin a web of lies by saying you could hold their phones ANYWAY you wanted without impact to the signal quality. Apple called them on their outright lies. Move on.

Antennagate is bigger than people think. I have been able to make a Droid X drop from a full 4 bars to signal loss by holding it wrong (just like before the iPhone 4.0.1 update). This makes me wonder if (for handset driven or carrier driven or both companies driven marketing reasons) the "bars" have been a lie for some time.

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Boffin

@ Chad H

There is a big difference between the attenuation issue that is common to ALL phones, and the detuning issue that is UNIQUE to the iPhone 4 (caused by touching the 'gap of doom')?

What Jobs is doing is a deliberate attempt to confuse those two matters - hiding his massive design FAIL behind a 'problem' common to all phones. Unfortunately, plenty fanboys and thickos seem to be buying into his bullshit.

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No, you've all got it wrong

Haven't you all realised this is a huge problem for the smartphone industry? For years and years now they've been shipping defective handsets that lose signal strength if you foolishly choose to hold them; but no one had noticed.

Except Steve Jobs - he saw there was a problem and in his neverending quest for perfection decided to alert the world. He ordered Apple's unparalleled designers came up a handset that loses signal if you so much look at it; invested in a hugely expensive advertising campaign to promote the 'wrong' way to hold the phone - and look what happened - phone signal strength is headline news!

Success - but are we thanking him for this?

It's only thanks to Steve Jobs that the industry was forced to confront this shameful situation.

[warning post may contain traces of sarcasm]

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@ Chad

No i am saying that he paid Marty to do it for him.

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lefty?

if your left handed it is almost a given you will bridge that gap. If you are left handed one could easily argue that it is un-natural to hold the phone in your right hand. Sure many other of these smart phone devices have their own quirks but none of them are as easily triggered. That coupled with a CEO who frankly doesn't know when to shut up...it is easy to see why so many el reg readers like poking fun at Apple. Like taking candy from a baby.

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Bronze badge

Apple screwed up

that's all there is to this, no matter how much someone protests against this fact.

ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE who has ever used a radio with an external antenna of which you can physically touch the metal knows that touching the antenna alters the reception (or transmission in the case of radio controlled toys etc.), to the point where sometimes it can render the reception or transmission useless, or very occasionally improve it.

The only time I know of that virtually always goes the opposite way is with those RF car lock/unlock keyfobs and garage door opener keyfobs, if you go out just out of range so the keyfob doesn't work, holding the keyfob to your chin helps amplify the signal so it works at longer distances...!

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Go

Technically Speaking ...

... that's spot on!

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Go

They Did Notice

But couple that with The Sacred J's usual and customary arrogance while making all sorts of excuses for legitimate research that trashes you, and you're just painting a big target on your chest. And people just love to shoot at those who make laughable targets of themsleves.

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Anonymous Coward

Petty indeed..

How's life with that new liver working out for ya then?

Any chance you're gonna get a pair of balls next so you can grab them and fess up to the fault?

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FAIL

RE: Fact? Reality distortion field strikes again!

Except that the only post I've read so far from someone who HAS an iPhone says their phone doesn't suffer from it...

...and my old Motorola certainly did have a similar problem.

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WTF?

RE: lefty?

"if your left handed it is almost a given you will bridge that gap. If you are left handed one could easily argue that it is un-natural to hold the phone in your right hand."

WTF?

How am I supposed to take notes about important conversations (with my left hand, since I'm a lefty) if I'm also holding a phone in it...?

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Flame

You big dummy!

Hoping for your sake that "Petty?" is just flame bait. No one can be this incomprehensibly stupid.

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