An amicable Steve Jobs took the stage at Apple’s Town Hall at the Cupertino HQ today to address “antennagate”. While the CEO admitted that there were issues with the iPhone 4’s design lending to reception issues, it isn’t unique to the latest iPhone.
Smartphones, in general, have weak spots and the algorithm used to meld hardware and software differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. During his keynote, Jobs demonstrated how a BlackBerry, Samsung Omnia and HTC Eris device all drop signal strength when held a certain way. Because of the iPhone 4’s exposed antenna design, the flaw is more apparent. But the problem, according to Apple, isn’t as bad as the media makes it out to be.
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While AT&T does not divulge dropped call rates, Apple says the iPhone 4 drops calls less than 1 percent more frequently than the iPhone 3GS. Part of the problem, Jobs says, is that cases were not readily available at launch for the iPhone 4 so the reception issue was much more apparent than when the iPhone 3GS launched because it shared the same design as the previous generation iPhone 3G.
Compared to the last generation iPhone, the return rate on the iPhone 4 is a third of what it was for the iPhone 3GS at 1.7 percent compared to the 6 percent rate of the iPhone 3GS. And a mere 0.55 percent of iPhone 4 owners called AppleCare to complain about reception issues.
So what is Apple going to do to appease customers?
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A free Apple bumper case or third party vendor case will be issued to any iPhone 4 user. You can sign up for the offer starting next week on the Apple web site. A refund will also be given to anyone who purchased a case from Apple at launch. But you must do so by September 30. If that isn’t enough, AT&T and Apple will refund your money no questions asked.
During the Q&A after the presentation, Jobs was asked about the Bloomberg article that said he knew about the possible antenna issue last year during the design process. Jobs vehemently said the story was “total bullshit.”
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