The Apple iPhone 4's antenna debacle prompted New York Sen. Charles Schumer to send a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, requesting that Apple take "swift action on this matter."
As Apple executives prepare to discuss the antenna issues
surrounding their iPhone 4, the company is continuing to get pressure
from the outside to address customers concerns. The latest shot came
June 15, when Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, sent a letter to Apple CEO
Steve Jobs, pressing him to do right by consumers.
Following the June 24 launch of the Apple iPhone 4, customers began
to note that when they held the device in a way that covered its bottom
left side, a critical location in the antenna's design, it lost
reception to the point of dropping calls. Holding the phone in this way
quickly became referred to as the "death grip."
Schumer noted in his letter that the findings of the consumer
advocacy publication Consumer Reports were at odds with the explanation
Apple had so far given for the antenna issue.
In a July 2 letter on its Website, Apple has blamed the problem on a
software glitch, explaining that the antenna itself wasn't faulty but
the software formula used to display the device's signal strength.
Apple said it would soon make a software fix available, and on
July 15 it released iOS 4.0.1, which in a pop-up window on the iPhone
homescreen announces that it "improves the formula to determine how
many bars of signal strength to display."
Consumer Reports, however, found the problem with the iPhone 4 to be hardware-related.
Given this discrepancy, Schumer wrote to Jobs, "I am concerned that the
nearly two million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete
information about the quality of the product they have purchased." He
went on to say that consumers' confusion over the issue's cause and
remedy may undermine what's otherwise an innovative device.
"To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4
customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the
reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it
free-of-charge," Schumer wrote. "The solutions offered to date by Apple
for dealing with the so-called 'death grip' malfunction - such as
holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it - seem to be
He additionally encouraged Apple to make good on its software
promise - the letter must have gone out before the update release - and
to, again in writing, offer a clear explanation of the formula that it
uses to calculate bar strength, "so that customers can once again trust
the product that they have invested in."
eWEEK has yet to test the effectiveness of the iOS 4.0.1 update,
which applies to not only the iPhone 4 but the iPhone 3G S and 3G. MacWorld,
however, has reported that the update does in fact more accurately
represent signal strength, and that the appearance of the bars is now
larger, as Apple said they would be, but that the OS "does not,
however, solve the signal attenuation problem for some users who hold
an iPhone 4 by its lower left corner in an area with poor coverage."
The Apple press conference will take place July 16 at 10 a.m.
Pacific Time. In keeping with the nature of the company, Apple has been
predictably tight-lipped about additional details.
Reports, in follow-up tests on the iPhone 4, found that the antenna
issue was allayed when the phone was paired with a rubber bumper
a thin case that Apple currently sells for $29. While analysts have
suggested that Apple is unlikely to announce a recall during the press
conference, many do expect Apple to at least offer the bumpers
Like Schumer, Consumer Reports suggested that Apple owes its customers as much.
"[Current] options all put the onus on consumers to solve or pay for
a fix," Paul Reynolds blogged on the publications' site. "We're still
calling on Apple to provide an acceptable free solution to the iPhone
4's signal-loss problem."