In the rush to unveil the next greatest smartphone ever, did Apple neglect to ensure that the phone was ready for public consumption? Or was Steve Jobs depending on Apple users legendary brand loyalty and the enormous appeal of a new iPhone to gloss over any problems that may arise? Business publication Bloomberg is reporting that an engineer’s concerns about the new antenna design went unheeded.
Perhaps the most pervasive problem about the iPhone’s older versions is that calls were dropped frequently in urban centers like New York City and San Francisco. Apple reinvented their antenna to attack the problem and made it external to the phone unit itself. But this cutting edge design showed its flaws soon after the product release. When users held their hands over the antenna – which is placed exactly where you’d naturally put your hand – it cut out the signal. Ruben Caballero, Apple’s senior antenna expert, told Jobs last year that the new antenna design would likely lead to more dropped calls.
Some familiar with the situation – who doesn’t want to be named because he doesn’t want to incur the wrath of Steve Jobs and the Cupertino Beast – said that Caballero made his concerns known in early planning meetings when Jobs and other executives showed a preference to the bezel antenna design, which helped produce a lighter, sleek phone body. Tests with one of Apple’s phone carriers also pointed to problems with the design. The well-regarded Consumer Reports isn’t recommending the iPhone 4G, saying instead buyers should opt for the previous 3 generations.
Consumer Reports also tested other phones, saying, “None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4. The tests also indicate that AT&T’s network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4’s much reported signal woes.”
The problem isn’t so much the dropped calls – though those are often pointed to by Apple competitors like Google – it is the fact that Apple seems to have known about them and decided to issue the phone anyway.
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