back to article Apple's iPhone 4 denial: insulting or ignorant?

Apple released a surreal missive on Friday morning that said the only thing wrong with the iPhone 4 is the way it calculates signal-strength bars. That letter is either an honest explanation or total bullshit — and it's high time that a competent, unbiased antenna-engineering team found out. On the face of it, Apple's letter …


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  1. Marky W

    a myriad thanks

    I know some dictionaries claim that 'a myriad retarded fanbois' is as correct as 'a myriad OF retarded fanbois', but frankly that's equine faeces. The second version is ugly and would have resulted in the deployment of red ink in my day.

    Good to see El Reg editorial standards remain above the fray. If my former english teacher hadn't been found floating face down in a Spanish swimming pool, I'm sure he'd have given a resounding thumbs up!! (true story)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      myriad minus one?

      "Good to see El Reg editorial standards remain above the fray."

      But then they throw it away with "the 1990s television phenomena The X-Files".

      "Media" and "data" are so regularly abused in this way that I suppose it's becoming standard usage and therefore arguably correct, but I don't think "phenomena" is ready to succumb just yet.

      1. Adam 10
        Jobs Horns

        Not to mention

        criterion (sing.), criteria (pl.)

        invite (verb), invitation (noun)

        one (indirect accusative), you (direct accusative)

        E.g. "The criterion for receiving an invitation to my pedants' party is that one is a pedant"

        NOT "The criteria for receiving an invite to my pedants' party is that you are a pedant".

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "If my former english teacher hadn't been found floating face down in a Spanish swimming pool"

      Ouch! Not trying to outdo you here but...

      My former Chemistry teacher was found decapitated at the side of a railway line :(

  2. Anonymous Coward

    I would like to point out

    that Anandtech also stated how the signal bar's were screwed up anyway.

    So Apple is fixing a problem, just not the problem people are currently moaning about.

    1. the bat
      Thumb Down

      Software Fix the Bars

      They are going to software fix the bars to coverup the issue

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @the bat

        No, they are going to fix one problem.

        If the other one exists truly, they'll have to deal with that one next.

  3. Chris Hatfield

    Jon Gruber's post on this

    is best.

    Jon Gruber is fucking outstanding at intepreting Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Jon Gruber is a corporate shill - but without the corporate responsibility.

      1. Chris Hatfield

        Jon Gruber assasinates Apple, when necessary

        Yeah, he's pro-Apple, but he calls them out as twatty, when they behave in a twatty way.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Jon Gruber's post

      I don't know this blogger but reading that as a first article gave me the impression that he works for Apple's marketing department.

    3. technome
      Jobs Halo


      Gruber's openly pro Apple but he's no shill.

      His analysis in this case is spot on and, as a bonus, genuinely humorous.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just the iPhone (and greatly exaggerated!)

      As "MLPrice" wrote on that page:

      "Same problem on Nokia E71:

      Same problem on HTC Droid:!

      Same problem on Nexus One:!

      Singling out Apple for a physics problem is like picking on Boeing because you experienced turbulence on a 767. All planes experience turbulence, and all mobile phone experience antenna attenuation. It's the nature of the beast.

      Screaming "DEFECT" simply means that you were unaware of the issue until Gizmodo turned it into part of their on going smear campaign against Apple. You've been mind controlled. That's no big deal, it happens to all of us.

      I've noticed the effect for years on 3G phones. In fact, I'd gotten used to placing some phones down on the table to make calls so I wouldn't block the signal."

      1. Adam 10
        Thumb Down


        I've now had 7 3G phones in the last 9 years (some personal, some corporate) and have never experienced this problem. I have never, ever resorted to placing a phone down on a surface just to make a call.

        These phones include 1-off LG, 4-off Nokia, 2-off HTC. Additionally, various family members and friends have also had a variety of phones (including earlier iPhones) and I've not heard any of them complain about this issue.

        You're analogy is flawed: the Apple problem is indeed a physics problem, but in the same way that getting electrocuted off bare mains cables is a physics problem. How do we prevent electrocution from mains cable? The exact same way we do with mobile phone antennae. The antennae should be appropriately insulated, perhaps by a thin coating of colourless plastic, in order to ensure a user doesn't bridge the antennae when using the phone as a phone.

  4. Chronos Silver badge
    Jobs Halo

    Waves hand

    These are not the faults you're looking for.

    That halo, it's actually an antenna. It's just so lossy it glows...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    This is unbelievable

    So the iPhone has, since its launch, exaggerated the reported signal? So Apple is going to bring out a software update which will "correct" this issue and, presumably, report the same signal when you bridge the antennae with your hand as when you hold it "properly"?

    But what has that got to do with the actual *loss* of signal when you bridge the antennae - sometimes resulting in dropped calls - that's been widely reported? Surely no-one's going to be taken in by that? "We'll just say that we're *not* changing the goalposts; however, when you hold the phone 'wrongly', the goal mouth will still get smaller"!

    I love Apple products, but Apple and Jobs seem to be losing the plot over this one. This latest PR blunder is an act of monumental hubris that's now descended into farce.

    Apple needs to learn from Toyota's mistakes*. But then again, it was probably always going to happen some time. From what I've read on The Reg and elsewhere, Apple has a corporate culture that basically equates to a doctrine of papal infallibility, resulting in employees being too scared to disagree with the corporate message lest they lose their job. Think Different? Mmm...

    The iPhone 4 looks great: the camera(s), battery life, speed and apps all appeal to me. I can live without the freedom to install non-Apple approved apps; hell, I can even live without Flash. The one thing I can't live without is the ability to make phone calls reliably.

    So, I'll be sticking with my old iPhone 3G for the time being. If this isn't sorted soon, then I may jump ship to Android.


    An Exasperated Fanboi

    * Ironically, Toyota's US sales have actually increased significantly over the last 12 months. Maybe it's the case that when you finally 'fess up, put things right, and still create a generally good product, people will continue to buy it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No drops

      Mine hasn't dropped a single call yet. If you enjoy your 3G you'll love the 4. The speed of it and the screen are joy.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Sorry, but...

        I just got the Froyo update over the air this weekend. A background download of 45Mb, three minutes to install and reboot, and hey presto! A faster phone and better battery life. I can live without facetime* (tm) and my screen is excellent, thank you very much. The Nexus One is once again running a faster OS than the iPhone 4 and its multitasking doesn't completely suspend applications not running in the foreground. Suck on that, iPhone lovers!

        *Disclaimer: Facetime only works between iPhone 4 users where both users are in a WiFi hotspot and is subject to available bandwidth and your acceptance that:you will look like a complete knob-end, you may walk into a lamp post, you will no doubt find that whenever you actually want to use Facetime, your friends are not in a WiFi hotspot. Apple has generously provided a Facetime 'help line' to allow you to pose with your new iPhone 4 in public when you can't find anyone else to Facetime, this alone is the reason you owe us, bitch, and will immediately upgrade to the iPhone 5 in 12 months time without a thought to battery life or antenna issues. Not that it's an issue of course, you're holding it wrong, dammit.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          RE: Sorry, but...

          It's also susceptible to you installing whatever guff you like on it, spyware, malware, adware and all other sorts of guff.

          Just for the record, I tested my iPhone and it doesn't suspend applications not running in the foreground. I did this by starting a webpage loading (one that was large in terms of data) and then flicking to another application. When I flicked back, the webpage had loaded. So FAIL there for repeating the guff that the other ignormai have fed to you.

          Suck on that baw-heid.

          "*Disclaimer [snip]"

          Not sure what that has to do with this article, you're obviously just off on an ill-tempered rant. Maybe not that different from Jobs himself!

          "you may walk into a lamp post"

          If you're walking down the street, there's little reason to use Facetime. Other people aren't interested in seeing the contents of your nose while you check for traffic and avoid lamp-posts!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: No drops

        Of course, you must realise that post which show that this isn't really a problem (or is a limited problem) will either be ignored or voted down by those who like to touch themselves in delight (and then post all about it) whenever there is an anti-Apple article?

    2. Narg

      Toyota is still the same...

      Toyota still remains the same lying arrogant company they always have been. They've been sued in just about every country in the World for holding back safety fixes and reports. They will never change. Mark my words.

      Apple is only a close second to this. They spin the marketing to gain public favor so hard, it churns more than just heads. It churns bellies too. Bellies of those smart enough to see through the B.S.

      Both companies make good equipment, most of the time. But the World would be a far better place without their PR spin trying to save face everytime something tilts ever so slightly. That are blatant lies. Fail on epic porportions.

    3. mulder
      Jobs Halo


      as a former employee forced as a result of attempting to get a union in the cork callcenter i can totally agree.

      The cult of apple thinks its God

  6. LinkOfHyrule
    Jobs Horns

    Try telling Steve that

    "There's nothing Apple nor anyone else can do to get around physics, plain and simple. "

    Try telling Steve that. I bet he's scheming away right now in a giant underground bunker on ways of making the laws of physics more Apple like! Gravity? There's an app for that!

    1. Lance 3


      Steve would never be caught in a bunker.

      This is more like it:

      1. Annihilator


        New Futurama episode - I implore you to watch it

      2. Doug Glass

        Bunker: ...

        ... euphemism for basement.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @Link who knows Steve personally

      Please, since you know him personally, can you arrange for me to meet him? I have some things I'd like to say to him and I'm sure the way you speak of him and his attitudes that you know him personally and well. That's great - I'd love to speak with him, as would a lot of people on this forum I'm sure.

      So, when can we expect to meet him?

  7. Sean Timarco Baggaley

    Why aren't Nokia, LG, Samsung, HTC, etc. not also being hounded?

    I've had EXACTLY the same damn "issues" with phones from ALL of the above.

    Where the hell were these bottom-feeding lawyers when my old (and, frankly, shite) HTC "TyTN II" phone insisted on dropping damned near every incoming call if anyone—or anything—got between it and my flat's front room window?

    How come my Nokia 2630 does EXACTLY the same signal-drop trick whenever I pick it up and hold it, yet nobody bats an eyelid?

    I've always assumed this was *normal behaviour* for mobiles. If it isn't, I've been conned at least seven bloody times in the past 10 years. (Including three from Nokia, and my one from HTC—who have the dubious distinction of making the only electronic device I have ever *actually* hurled at a wall in frustration at its terrible design. Immediately after which, I went out and bought my current Nokia 2630.)

    The HTC (and an abortive fling with a Sony-Ericsson P900) aside, I've had no serious complaints about any of my mobile phones over the years. My apparently flesh-phobic Nokia 2630 is only now starting to show signs of age, but has given me sterling service as a phone since 2008.

    So why is all this folderol flaring up now? So the signal dips a bit in areas with poor signal strength—so what? You were expecting some kind of magic, noiseless signal amplifier too?

    (And no, being able to see a cellphone mast from your window isn't proof of anything, as anyone who's ever owned a TV in certain parts of London can attest. Even though I could plainly see both the Croydon and Crystal Palace transmitters, it didn't make getting a decent picture for Channel 5 on Freeview any less a bloody chore.)

    And how in blazes is this *worse* than the incessant bloody *crashing* of HTC's TyTN II, which many users seem to think was perfectly acceptable behaviour for a phone costing a small fortune SIM-free?

    1. Arctic fox

      Why aren't Nokia, LG, Samsung, HTC, etc. not also being hounded? Simple.......

      .........they do not promote themselves the way Apple does. The type of promotion that virtually begs people to declare that the emperor is in fact clad in nothing but his birthday suit when something goes wrong. Especially if the emperor continues to insist that, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that he is fully and stylishly clothed and all his subjects have vision problems.

      1. Eponymous Howard

        "they do not promote themselves the way Apple does."

        Trans: their marketing is utter dogshit.

    2. blackworx
      Paris Hilton


      I can almost see the tears running down your face

    3. nsld
      Paris Hilton

      Why aren't Nokia, LG, Samsung, HTC, etc. not also being hounded? → #

      Probably becuase they didnt stick the antenna on the outside of a metal cased phone in a dumb place so consequently they still worked.

      7 phones, 10 years but one common denominator, as Steve said your gripping it wrong!

      Paris - she knows how to grip it

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      The reason is that there are all these Fandroids waiting in the wings to pounce on anything which shines Apple in a bad light. The reasons for their attitude, I don't care - they aren't justified in any way in their heinous and offensive attitudes, which is all about revelling in the misfortune of others, and decrying the idiocy of anyone that isn't 110% anti-Apple.

      That's the reason no one goes after Nokia and the other handset manufacturers who have the same problem.

      The irony is that Fandroids attack Apple fans and declare them to be sheep, yet they are the ones that allow themselves to influenced by sensationalist media writing articles with the sole purpose of selling more papers, which drives more advertising revenue. Who's the sheep? Well, I think that's obvious.

  8. Matthew Barker


    Apple's letter points out one thing that nobody seems to notice: you have 30 days to return it if you don't like the product.

    So, yellow journalism aside, there isn't really much of a story...except Jobs-hating has turned into a sport which is lucrative for "media outlets" who get money by adverts.

    Love or hate, it's all attention.

    1. Mme.Mynkoff

      Speak the truth to power, Brother!

      Yes, there's no story here at all Matthew Barker...

      Just that 2m people have bought a flawed product and Apple pretends the flaw isn't there.

      No story at all. Move along people, and let Brother Barker sing for you on your way out.

    2. Greg J Preece


      Aren't they charing a 10% restocking fee for returns?

      Just thought I'd mention that...

      1. Neill Mitchell

        Cannot charge a re stocking fee.

        It's against the law in the UK. Unless the unit has been engraved or customised.

    3. xyz


      sod 30 of goods act... get them to fix or replace it and you can take up to 5 years to do so. Apple is acting like a dodgy 1970's second hand car salesman, whose latest polished turd stinks and is trying to tell you it's your nose that's in error....IMHO of course

  9. Loosewheel
    Paris Hilton


    The bigger the hype, the further they fall.

    Paris, because despite the hype surrounding her - she goes down frequently.

  10. DZ-Jay


    "Millions of dollars, a gathering legal storm, and the reputation of Apple, its executives, and its design and engineering teams hang in the balance."

    I don't think Jobs nor his engineers are losing any sleep over this.


  11. nemenator


    I have both a 4 & a 3G and they perform fine in low signal areas despite holding them incorrectly. But charging £25 for the official solution is a cheek when there is even prettier protection on ebay for £2.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    easy fix then.

    if (meatbag touching antenna) bardisplay += 3;

  13. Q8GEEK

    Metal frame thing

    According to <a href="">these guys</a>, the metal frame acts as some sort of antenna's ground while the antenna itself is place in the speaker module.

    I wonder if it's true...

    1. Q8GEEK

      Metal frame thing to fix it.

  14. snilsson

    Between a rock and a hard place

    I believe Rik's analysis of the failed antenna design is spot on.

    Apple is stuck at this point. Introducing physical changes in a product takes months. Also, they can't touch the radio at all; that would require a new time-consuming validation.

    Chances are that Apple only have two choices: pushing this product despite its defects or being without a new phone for X months, where X may be a large number.

    1. Doug Glass

      Uh Huh

      Pushing it out despite it flaws. Sounds like Apple's version of Vista-like thinking.

      1. Captain Save-a-ho

        That's really low you SOB

        And salute you for it, sir!

      2. Anonymous Coward


        It sounds more like Apple Snow Leopard thinking... How quickly people forget...

        P.S. Posted using my iPhone 4 with which I am quite happy

  15. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    Ends insulated from each other for a reason

    The ends of antennas are extremely high impedance. The current at the tip is (obviously) very low, and the voltage is typically (relatively) high, thus the impedance is very high. Normally it doesn't matter because the tips of antennas are typically well out of reach. But to put the two ends close to each other where the finger can bridge them is unsmart.

    1. Doug Glass

      A Little Antenna Theory ..

      ... goes a long way. I think Apple just need to come out with a full wave vertically polarized dipole in a head gear apparatus and be done with it.


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