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Apple holds news conference to address iPhone 4 antenna issue

By C.J. CASTILLO
July 16, 2010 at 2:16 a.m.
Updated July 17, 2010 at 2:17 a.m.


Steve Jobs has spoken. Due to an outcry over the iPhone 4 antenna, dubbed "Antennagate" by Apple, the company addressed the antenna situation at a special news conference on Friday.

The situation, perhaps overblown by some depending on who you ask, was concerning the performance of the antenna on the iPhone 4.

Many iPhone owners claimed to lose reception when holding and touching the left side of the phone. The external antenna on the iPhone 4 is located in the stainless steel band on the phone, the weak spot is the black strip in the lower left corner of the band.

Apple initially addressed it as an issue with the way consumers were holding the phone, then later said it was also related to software that recorded the signal strength.

Still, that didn't satisfy customers. Consumer Reports said they could not recommend the iPhone 4 based on the results of their testing, citing dropped calls, which they said was the result of a design flaw.

Despite all these reports, the iPhone 4 continued to sell strong and fast, with more than 3 million units sold to date.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened Friday's news conference by saying, "We're not perfect. We know that, you know that. And phones aren't perfect either." Jobs went on to say that Apple wanted to make their users happy.

Jobs also shared data, which revealed the iPhone was not the only phone to drop bars when held by the left side. Apple tested other phones and found that the Blackberry Bold 9700, the HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Omnia II also responded similarly, losing bars when gripped on the left side.

The full results and explanation of Apple's tests, including a video of their testing lab can be found on Apple's website.

Apple is also troubleshooting some issues with the proximity sensor on the iPhone 4.

Owners of the iPhone 4 will receive a free Bumper case, which has been shown to help with the dropped signal when touching the antenna. Customers who have purchased Bumper cases from Apple will receive a refund. The free Bumper cases will be available until Sept. 30, when Apple will re-evaluate the situation. Customers can apply for the free cases on Apple's website beginning late next week.

In addition, Jobs said if owners were not happy with the iPhone 4, they can return the phone within 30 days and receive a full refund.

Jobs said that the problem with the antenna was affecting a small number of users and that return rates on the phones were low.

The Apple CEO said the antenna issue had been "blown so far out of proportion that it is incredible."

He also dismissed a report by Bloomberg media, which reported that Jobs was warned about the antenna issue during the early design phase of the iPhone 4.

Before Jobs ended his presentation, which was followed by a Q&A session, he said, "Data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world and there is no 'Antennagate,' ...we love our customers and we're going to take care of them."

During the conference Jobs also announced the white iPhone 4 will ship, in limited quantities, at the end of July.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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