Here was Apple’s big announcement today in case you missed it!
Per Yahoo: A defiant Steve Jobs argued that the brouhaha over the iPhone 4’s so-called death grip has been “blown so out of proportion, it’s incredible.” Still, in an effort to make every iPhone customer happy, Apple (as expected) will hand out free cases — either Apple’s $29 Bumpers or a “choice” of third-party cases — for any iPhone 4 users who wants one.
Jobs didn’t admit that there was anything wrong with the new iPhone’s external antenna design — indeed, he called the new iPhone “perhaps the best product” Apple’s ever made — but he conceded that perhaps the lack of cases for the redesigned iPhone might have something to do with complaints about iffy reception.
Users who already have an Apple Bumper case can apply for a refund, Jobs said, adding that anyone who wants to return a new iPhone 4 for a full refund can do so within 30 days, without a restocking fee. Apple will continue handing out free cases until Sept. 30, at which point it will “re-evaluate” the situation.
Jobs kicked off the news conference by defending the iPhone 4 as “perhaps the best product we’ve ever made at Apple,” noting that more than 3 million new iPhones had been sold in just three weeks and that it has the “highest customer satisfaction rating” of any previous iPhone model. “Users seem to love it.”
“Antennagate” (as Jobs called it) is not unique to the iPhone 4, Apple’s CEO continued. He then proceeded to show videos of how phones such as the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the HTC Droid Eris and the Samsung Omnia II all began dropping bars when gripped. “Phones aren’t perfect. It’s a challenge for the whole industry.”
Jobs then touted Apple’s “state of the art,” $100 million testing facility, complete with 17 “anechoic” chambers staffed by 18 PhD-holding scientists and engineers, before claiming that just 0.55 percent of iPhone 4 users had called Apple to complain about reception problems, while only 1.7 percent of AT&T customers had returned their new phones (compared with 6 percent for the iPhone 3GS). “This is not a large number. This doesn’t jibe with what you read.”
Still, Jobs did concede that the iPhone 4 drops more calls than last year’s 3GS — but only a little less than one additional call per hundred, he claimed.
“Even less than one” additional dropped call “is too much for us,” Jobs went on, adding that he has his own “pet theory”: that because of the iPhone 4’s all-new design, only 20 percent of customers left the store with new cases, compared with (he claims) 80 percent for previous iPhone models.
During a question-and-answer period after the briefing, Jobs denied that he’d been warned in advance of possible iPhone 4 reception problems, and said a recent Bloomberg story containing the claim was a “crock.”
Jobs said Apple was “stunned and embarrassed” by Consumer Reports’ decision to withhold a recommendation for the iPhone 4 after duplicating the reception problem in a lab. He said Apple decided to wait till now before going into more detail about the iPhone’s reception issues because “we didn’t know enough” before.
Reception problems have been dogging the iPhone 4 pretty much since the day of its release, with many users complaining that the iPhone’s signal bars drop out if they hold the phone near the lower left corner. It didn’t take long before wireless experts blamed the iPhone’s redesigned antenna, which is built into the stainless steel band that rings the phone.
Apple claims the new design gives the iPhone 4 the best overall reception of any previous iPhone. But experts believe that when a tiny gap on the lower left side of the phone that separates the two segments of the iPhone antenna is “bridged” by a hand, reception problems are sure to follow.
Adding fuel to the fire was Steve Jobs himself, who told a handful of iPhone 4 users over e-mail that they could avoid reception problems if they’d “just avoid holding that way.”
Apple initially tried to explain away the complaints by blaming the iPhone’s “totally wrong” signal display algorithm, which it claimed was showing too many bars of reception in low-signal areas. A patch to fix the issue came out Thursday.
But if anything, the controversy over the iPhone 4 “death grip” only intensified after Apple’s initial announcement, culminating earlier this week when Consumer Reports (which initially posted a positive review of the iPhone) said it had proved in a lab that the “death grip” was real and would therefore not be recommending the (otherwise highly rated) handset.
On Thursday, both Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal claimed that Steve Jobs may have known as early as last year that the iPhone 4’s new design could lead to reception problems, but decided to plunge ahead with the new look anyway. Apple flatly denied the reports.
Update: In an earlier version of this post, I wrote that Jobs was “unapologetic” during his iPhone remarks Friday. In fact, he did say during the Q&A that he was “deeply sorry” if any customers were affected by reception problems.