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Apple has announced a press conference tomorrow for 9am Pacific time. The consensus among analysts and the blogosphere is the company will announced a hardware fix for the iPhone 4 antenna problem.

The Street.com has quoted Ashok Kumar, a financial analyst who has spoken to various Apple's manufacturing partners, as saying that Apple has been informing manufacturers of a design fix that will resolve the wireless signal reduction problem for all new iPhone 4 units.

If true, the fix should presumably end the problem for all new iPhones however, Apple will still have to deal with millions of existing iPhone 4 owners. To placate existing iPhone 4 owners, the analyst believes Apple will offer all existing iPhone 4 owners a $29 Apple-branded iPhone 4 Bumper case insulating at no charge.

If true, the design will likely cause a disruption in the availability of smartphones as factories switch over to the new design. The result is the late July launch of the iPhone 4 in Canada and 18 other countries could be delayed.

That's the rumour, details tomorrow.
 

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I guess on somewhat related note, 4.0.1 was just released, with the following listed as main change:

"- Improves the formula to determine how many bars of signal strength to display"
 

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Well let's remember all of the Verizon rumors that didn't pan out. My prediction is still that the HW fix will be with the iPhone 5:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showpost.php?p=1124654&postcount=22

Considerations:


  • As touched on in the article, if they do adjust the HW in a new manufacturing run then what will they do with all of the existing sold and inventory units. If they don't swap them out for free, they'll end up with their next class action suit.
  • It will undoubtedly delay supply to new markets their rolling out to and likely cause shortages in existing markets (i.e. USA).
  • It would completely kill all sales worldwide until the new devices are available. No one in the Apple or AT&T store is going to say "ring it up" this weekend knowing they have the problem unit.
  • Radio antenna modifications will possibly require new FCC certifications and similar issues in other countries around the world. (Takes time and $$$)
  • Admission of a problem will damage their brand making it unlikely that we'll see nearly as many people lining up for the iPhone5 next year. Many more people will take the "let's wait a few months and see how the new phone is received and what problems there are with it" attitude and some of them will end up getting turned on to other phones that come out in the meantime (such as Droid X). Overall the hype and impulse buying will decrease.

The way I see it, Apple has two options for tomorrow:


  1. Come in and say: "Greetings people of Earth. We've got a mistake in our new phone and we're going to fix it immediately. If you already have one, we're going to ship you a new iPhone4b for free, tomorrow, along with $100 Apple store gift card, a personalized I'm sorry note from your good Uncle Steve, and your choice of a box of chocolates or a dozen red roses. And if we ever have an issue like this with future iPhone models will do the same, but next time include both the chocolates and roses! Thanks for being our loyal fans (p.s. the chocolates are really good)!"
  2. Downplay the issue, use the software bar strength change to make the problem less apparent, and sutlely suggest people put the phone in a case or bumper.

That's my 2 cents.... however if I was good at predicting the future I'd be at the track right now and not on the computer :)
 

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Free bumper if iPhone bought by Sept 30. Canada launch July 30. Also, Apple confirmed you cannot change the laws of physics. :)

Oh, and bad Apple for comparing "bars" between phones. I expected nothing more (tnough I did hope). :(
 

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Pretty much what I was expecting. There's not going to be a simple software fix or recall to address a weakness in the hardware design.
 

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When I posted the note above, the free case offer wasn't mentioned. The press conference wasn't over at the time.

What I was watching was Steve Jobs being Steve Jobs.
 

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I love (sarcasticly) how the media is reporting this as "Apple appologizes". They didn't really, it's like the Inredible Hulk coming out and saying that he's 100 times stronger and more powerful than every other person on earth but appologizing that he's not perfect because he, like all other mortal humans, can't fly.
 

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10:46AM Q: Are you willing to make an apology to investors?
Steve: You know we hear from customers who love this phone and have a great experience with it, and we're doing a lot to help them with any issues they're seeing. To investors, you know, you invest in the company we are, so if the stock goes down $5... I don't think I owe them an apology.
 

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The Q&A session looks like a big mistake. The answers are so laugable.

Guess my decision is clear - no iPhone 4 for me.
 

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Meh, the issue, if it exists for you, seems easy enough to avoid. I'll be looking at Rogers' offers and upgrading if the price is reasonable.
 

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Read the blog posts. I thought Jobs made some excellent points.

The lack of complaints and returns by actual owners suggests to me this really is a blogosphere issue and not a user issue.

If Apple offers a 30 day unconditional warranty then I think that's fine.
 

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I'll still be getting one :) I would have put a case on it regardless, so getting a free one - bonus! (although I'll probably still be getting something different than the bumper) I have dropped my iPod Touch - a lot! So I need a case.

Now the question is - when will the pre-orders start?
 

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I agree with Apple's decision but Steve's arrogance doesn't want to make you root for Apple. He is both their greatest asset and their greatest liability.
 

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I thought they did a very shrewd job of positioning the complaint as an issue that needs addressing but it is an issue that all phones share and is not really an issue on the iPhone.

I wasn't expecting the stats on dropped calls and complaints. It highlighted that this really is an overblown issue. Steve's ideas on the cause of the additional dropped calls was an interesting aside.

I don't think there is anything they can do to address the issue without a full redesign of the phone. Since that isn't in the cards for apple they want to show that they are just like every other smart phone out there and they'll placate us with free bumpers.
 

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The rest of the smartphone community is laughing at Jobs for his ridiculous attempt to deflect Apple's issue by trying to make it everyone's. I'm sure the iHeads will buy it, but it's just sad that he even said half of what he said.

Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.
http://crackberry.com/rim-official-statment-response-apples-iphone-4-antenna-propaganda

Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature.

Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.

In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.
http://nokiaexperts.com/jobs-nokia-suffer-reception-issues/
 

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Personally ... I believe the AnandTech review is the must read for anyone thinking about the iP4, or thinking about bashing it. If you read it I believe you'll come away with much of the reception problems being about AT&T's spotty coverage and bandwidth, as much as it's about bumpers. The problem with the proximity sensor isn't however mentioned, but I don't believe there's any doubt this is definitely a software fix.

Personally ... I'm looking forward to July 30th :)
 
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