Apple Acknowledges iPhone 4 Antenna Problems, Gives Free Bumper Cover
Apple CEO Steve Jobs addressed selected members of the press today regarding performance issues with the recently released iPhone 4. Jobs admitted that there are problems with signal loss when the phone is held in certain ways that cover the external antenna, and ultimately offered free bumpers for all iPhone 4 buyers.
"We're not perfect. We know that; you know that. And phones aren't perfect either . But we want to make all of our users happy. If you don't know that about Apple, you don't know Apple. We love making our users happy," Jobs said at the start of his presentation.
But reception problems based on how the phone is held are not unique to the iPhone 4, Jobs said. He showed evidence that the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris (Android) and Samsung Omnia II (Windows Mobile ) all had similar drops in reception when held a certain way.
"This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren't perfect. It's a challenge for the whole industry. Every phone has weak spots," he said.
In addition to the antenna problem, Jobs also mentioned the previous explanation the company gave that the algorithm for tracking signal strength was flawed. That software flaw was fixed in a recent update; it allows the phone to more accurately display signal strength, though it did not improve reception.
Despite acknowledging the problem, Jobs downplayed its significance.
"We knew that you could see bars drop on the phone when you hold it in a certain way, it's a fact, phones aren't perfect. But people are reporting better reception with this antenna than they've ever seen before," Jobs said.
He went on to cite statistics showing that just half of one percent of customers had complained about this issue, and iPhone 4 return rates are one-third of those for the last model, the iPhone 3GS. And while the iPhone 4 does drop more calls, it is only one more per 100 calls than the 3GS.
Despite the low numbers of reported incidents, Apple is planning several measures to "make customers happy."
"The first part is the software update, that fixes the way the bars report and other bugs, that's out now. Second, people said the bumper fixes everything... 'Why don't you give everybody a case?' Okay -- we'll give you a free case," Jobs said,
Every person who has bought an iPhone 4 is now eligible for a free case, and those who already purchased a Bumper case will get a refund. Apple doesn't have enough of it's own Bumper cases, so they company will offer options from third-party manufacturers. And Jobs reminded users that they can return the iPhone within 30 days without hidden restocking fees and no questions asked.
"We do this because we love our users, and if we screw up, we pick ourselves up and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users. We take this really personally," Jobs said.
- Grief Over iPhone 4 Reception Problems Grows
- Experts Skeptical About 'Digital Drugs' Claims by Teens
- 'Star Wars' Voices Guide Drivers on TomTom GPS Systems