Apple’s on the verge of announcing something about the iPhone 4 reception problem known as the “Death Grip.” Something tells me, though, that they aren’t going to tell us that they knew about the problem all along and went ahead with production anyway, even though that was apparently the case. Senior Apple engineer Ruben Caballero had warned Steve Jobs and Jony Ive about the signal attenuation that continues to plague users, according to an anonymous report. A carrier partner (presumably AT&T) also raised concern over the issue, but Apple obviously moved onwards regardless. If true, this would mean that there were red flags about the iPhone 4 having reception problems related to its antenna that were ignored throughout the decision chain.
The major advantage to building the antennae on the outside of the device is more room on the inside for other parts, keeping the overall size of the iPhone 4 as small as possible. Of course, making physical contact with the antennae at a certain point also results in signal reception problems that could lead to dropped calls, which can only be alleviated by expensive Apple-Approved™ bumpers, a jinky Livestrong solution, or some strategically-applied duct tape. The idea that one of these is pretty much a necessity for left-handed people to make a call is ridiculous. The first thing Apple said on the subject was that the iPhone 4 units affected by the “Death Grip” issue were simply not showing the correct signal strength, and that the iPhone never actually had the reception in the first place. That seems like a cheap way to pass the buck to AT&T for now.
Apple isn’t giving away bumpers, but that should be the bare minimum they announce on Friday, and at most, Apple could announce a recall. We’re hoping to see Apple owning up to the issue, and we expect Apple to declare that the issue is more overblown than it really is. Our own in-house iPhone 4 units exhibit reception issues when held in the “Death Grip,” but none of us have had any real problems using the phone on the daily – save for AT&T dropping calls, which is par for the course in SF.
If you’re having iPhone 4 reception issues, we suggest you stay tuned to what Apple has to say on the matter later this week.