Consumer Reports retested the Apple iPhone 4, this time with a "bumper" case on it, and found the bumper fixed the smartphone's antenna issues. Still, the magazine said it was up to Apple, not consumers, to pay for such a fix.
Consumer Reports enginners have found that Apple's iPhone 4, when
used with a rubber "bumper" that Apple sells for $29, do not have
reception problems related to the smartphone's antenna.
In initial testing, the Apple iPhone 4 failed to receive "recommend"
status from the consumer watchdog publication due to its antenna - when
the phone is held in a way that covers the antenna, located on the
phone's bottom left corner, reception can be reduced to the point of
dropping a call.
"With the Bumper fitted, we repeated the test procedure, placing a
finger on the Bumper at the point at which it covers the gap below,"
Reynolds wrote. "The result was a negligible drop in signal strength -
so slight that it would not have any effect, in our judgment."
Still, it was not enough for the publication to give the device a
whole-hearted thumbs up. The editors say that any solution should come
from the efforts of Apple, not their customers.
"The Bumper solves the signal-strength problem. So does a piece of
duct tape, as we reported earlier, or just being careful how you hold
the phone," Reynolds wrote. "But these options all put the onus on
consumers to solve or pay for a fix. We're still calling on Apple to
provide an acceptable free solution to the iPhone 4's signal-loss
Apple has scheduled a press conference for July 16 to discuss the
iPhone 4, according to the Wall Street Journal. While Apple offered no
additional details, it's expected that Apple executives will discuss
the antenna and possibly announce that they will offer free bumpers.
Analysts - and even a class-action suit filed against Apple - have called for the company to do as much.
While Apple expressed surprise regarding the issue, and says it has
found the fault to be with a software formula, which it will soon
update, the lawsuit accuses Apple of knowingly shipping a faulty
product. On July 15, Bloomberg additionally reported that both an Apple
senior engineer, Ruben Caballero, as well as one of Apple's carrier
partners, had expressed concerns about the antenna design.
Bloomberg, citing "a
person familiar with the matter," says Caballero made his concerns
known to Apple CEO Steve Jobs during an early phase of the iPhone 4's
design. Reportedly, Apple has made Caballero unavailable for comment.
Despite the damage to Apple's reputation, which comes at a time when
feature-rich smartphones running Android, Google's operating system,
are attracting major consumer attention, analysts do not expect Apple
to issue a recall.
Bloomberg reports that "Apple shares had risen 20 percent this year
before today." Nearing noon on the East Coast July 15, its stock was
down $3.59, or 1.42 percent.
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.