Have iPhone 4, think it works? Think again.

UPDATE: This was written prior to the well known Friday press-conference made by Steve Jobs. As such, I am not sure this article is so relevant now, but it felt so at the time.

Do you have an iPhone 4? Think all the fuss so far is just crazy. Can’t understand why people like me are writing posts like this? Think you are one of the lucky ones without any problems? Well, you might just be in for a fall.

With recent developments in the iPhone 4 saga, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts I had about it. With Consumer Reports now not recommending the iPhone 4 to consumers, this means Apple has a bigger challenge than previously. Don’t want to get into all the details, it’s all out there on the internet.

But there is an underlying and slightly devious problem that I am sure will surface in time for most iPhone users.

A little background

I bought my iPhone 4 on day of launch and whilst I did see the antenna problems in my device, I am fortunate enough to live in a strong signal area. Like many people, I can replicate the signal drop at will, at any time in any environment. For the last few weeks it has not really been a problem for me. I have been able to use the phone as intended. Voice calls, Twitter, uploading and streaming all work fine.

Until now.

This past weekend I travelled away for the weekend, North of the Dartford Tunnel for a wedding. It was here that I realised that the antenna issue now turned into a significant problem. With the signal strength much weaker to what I am used to at home, I saw repeated drop calls, even no signal at all. All of a sudden what was a mere visual issue with dropped bars, turned into a very inconvenient problem.

It’s not a scientific comparison, but my girlfriend who has a BlackBerry on an O2 contract, the same as my iPhone, had a constantly reliable signal. My iPhone? Up and down, up and down, up and gone.

What to do?

I am now at a point where I am undecided as to what to do. I have experienced the true nature of the antenna fault. There will be other times that I travel out of ‘my comfort zone’ and no doubt will hit the same problem I did this weekend. And this is my worry.

I know many many people who have the iPhone 4, like me are/were happy with how the iPhone 4 works, dropped bars and all. They may feel slightly fortunate and unbothered by all the fuss, much like myself.

But what happens when these people travel to a new area and suddenly experience this antenna problem for themselves? It will then become a significant annoyance, to be all of a sudden hit by this design fault. It could be tomorrow that you see it for the first time, it could next week or later.

But when you do experience it for the first time, you will be frustrated and maybe even angry. I was.

No software fix

We now know the software update will not fix the antenna issue, so where does this leave us? I only have a few days or so before Apple’s 30 day return policy expires, then I am presumably screwed, unless Apple admits there is a serious design flaw.

My options are use the Apple Bumper case that I bought out of need, not desire. But this case just makes the iPhone look frumpy. By choice I refuse to put the Bumper case on the phone that I bought that cost good money. There is logic here, allbeit a true Western warped logic.

I did not upgrade my phone out of practicality, I did so out of lust, desire and because I could. The iPhone 4 is stunning, yet the Bumper cases hide and degrades the true essence of the iPhone. It’s a poor solution in comparison to the nature of Apples screw up.

Other options are using insulating tape or taking the iPhone back. But again, this is a problem. I recycled my iPhone 3G, so have no back-up iPhone or phone. If I take advantage of Apple’s 30 day money back, where will that leave me? Will they give me a new 3GS or will I have to wait until a ‘hope full’ hardware upgrade is made and available, and God doesn’t even know when or if that will happen.

For the iPhone hardware to be updated means Apple having to admit there is a serious fault, and that is not something they have done yet.


I have heard people say a mass recall is needed to present us with proof that Apple has good intentions and respect for its many loyal new new customers. I am not sure this is needed, but an optional recall would be a great way for Apple to start saving face.

Offer a free replacement iPhone 4 (hardware updated of course) to all those users who have problems or who are worried about future problems occurring). I am pretty sure many many people will not bother, happy to live with the fault, maybe fixing it with insulating tape or relying on a suitable case.

Or replace with a free iPhone 3GS. But then the early adopters, the ones that supported Apple from the beginning will end up back at square one. An old new iPhone 3GS, whilst others still buy and hang onto their iPhone 4, hoping not to experience any problems, ever. Unlikely.

And the bloody annoying thing is, once you have experienced the iPhone 4, the crisp display, the various improvements to the camera and video, you feel yourself torn between being practical and being ignorant. It’s hard to let go and imagine having to go back wards. This is truly a sad state of affairs over what is just a bunch of electronics, but Apple is passionate about these things, and so therefore, so are we. Apple could be to blame for this mass warped perception of what is important in our lives. When it goes wrong, where are they then?

Brand damage

Apple need to do something otherwise their brand will take a real hit. Offering free Bumper cases is not my idea of a goodwill gesture. This is the equivalent of a bodge hack. Apple are way above this sort of remedy, they don’t want to be know for the company that offered cheap workarounds for a serious design flaw. I know I wouldn’t. The only thing open to them, is some sort of optional recall, then leave it to individuals to decide if they need to take the offer up.

It’s not about Apple doing the cheapest thing, it’s about Apple needing to do what is right and frankly, now expected. If large brands like Toyato can take this sort of hit by recalling so many of it’s cars due to the dangerous accelerator problem, Apple can do it with some luxury and non life threatning phones (unless you experience a drop call during a 999, then it’s a whole different nightmare.

This lack of respect WILL affect future ‘first adopter’ behaviour for which Apple rely on to hit the ground running.

Put it into context and you will start to see that Apple are playing a dangerous game with their many customers. I have been using the mighty Apple since the Mac Colour Classic, and this is the first time I have had such negative thoughts about them. I can’t be the only one.

It’s all the remarkable when you consider that Apple are putting everything into the iPhone, seemingly at the expense of existing Apple product development. That they are playing with fire on their flagship product is just astonishing.

So where to go now

And I am still undecided. I will call O2 and see what their stance is. Presumably if Apple do admit fault, and this is out of the 30 day money back period for some users, a replacement or refund would still be in place?

But remember, just because you may be happy with your iPhone 4 now, does not mean you will always will be. It’s worth thinking about when you may need the iPhone 4 in an urgent or serious situation, in a new location with a weaker signal than you are used to. This is something Apple has put on us, what will you do about it?

My advice?

I can honestly say now, with benefit of hindsight, knowing what I do now after 3 weeks of use, I wouldn’t buy the phone. Wait until Apple admitted some level of fault and made good. If you are stll in contract, especially if you have a 3GS and have to pay a tidy sum just to get the iPhone 4, just sit it out for now.

The lure of the iPhone is strong, but once you experience the dropped calls and such like, it becomes a different story.

There is even ‘talk’ about if the iPhone is ‘fit for it’s intended purpose?’ I can say that for such a high level, premium smart phone, this antenna issue makes the iPhone ‘less than fit for making calls’. It’s not all the time, don’t get me wrong, but it can be enough to make you wish you had a phone that kept the signal. Ergo, is it ‘fit for purpose?’

Love Apple, Hate Apple

I do love Apple, I love Apple stuff, my job requires me to use Apple products all day every day. I have never had a real reason to doubt Apple in the past, all my purchases have been sound and reliable. This is the only time things have gone pear shaped.

I’m not new to Apple, my first Apple was the Colour Classic, then the LC. Have used Mac’s at home and in work, seen and used all revisions of the Mac desktop and laptop. I don’t say this to be all ‘la la la’, I say it because it can be important to put into context how I view Apple in general. Which has been, up till now, very positive, with the odd minor ‘tut tut’.

I am not even angry at the actual fault, I am angry with the way Apple are dealing with it. When you do decide to go ‘early adopter’ or ‘first day release buying frenzy’ then you should expect a few teething problems, but this is beyond a teething problem.

That’s the difference here for me. I am not anti Apple or anti iPhone, I am anti ‘the way they are dealing with this particular situation.’ Just hope they ‘man up’ and take accountability and do themselves a major favour in the process.

Light hearted poke on the iPhone 4 antenna – The Apple iAntenna – The Ultimate iPhone 4 Bumper Case Accessory


Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2010/07/13 & Post Updated: 2014/05/09
Filed In Categories: Uncategorised

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