Law firm seeks feedback on ‘remarkable, but inherently flawed’ iPhone 4

“Some area residents who stood in long lines last week to be among the first buyers of Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 4 might soon be lumped into another group: plaintiffs,” Mark Glover reports for The Sacramento Bee.

“The Sacramento law firm of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff LLP is soliciting feedback from consumers who have had reception problems with Apple’s sleeker, more-powerful, fourth-generation iPhone, which rang up unit sales of 1.7 million in three days,” Glover reports. “Firm attorney J.R. Parker would not comment on online speculation that a lawsuit is being planned and declined to use the words ‘class action suit’ in a phone interview. Instead, he said: ‘We are looking to see what problems people are having with their iPhones. We are looking to see what remedies may be available to consumers.'”

“Since the phone went on sale last Thursday, some buyers have reported weak signals or dropped calls as a result of holding the phone a certain way in their hands,” Glover reports. “Apple cited a stainless steel band around the sides of the phone. The band contributes structural integrity, but also serves as an antenna. Cupertino-based Apple has advised users to hold the phone in a way that doesn’t block the band or to buy a ‘bumper’ case, starting at about $30.”

“Angry consumers have lit up message boards on some websites, criticizing Apple’s recommended fixes for a new phone that costs $199 for a 16-gigabyte model,” Glover reports. “Parker said he understands public frustration:’You’re holding it the wrong way… I don’t think that’s an acceptable response. And spending $30 for this rubber bumper has upset (consumers).”

Read more in the full article here.

Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff’s online statement reads, verbatim:

Our Statement about the iPhone 4 Investigation

Apple is, without question, one of the most sophisticated and successful consumer electronics companies in the world. Since Apple entered the retail smartphone market and introduced the iPhone in 2007, it has seen ever-increasing financial success. People really want iPhones.

We think that the iPhone 4 is a remarkable device. But it is inherently flawed.

When the iPhone 4 was officially announced on June 7, 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the public that the new design for the iPhone 4’s antenna would provide better reception than previous versions of the iPhone. The new iPhone features a metal antenna that encircles the entire outside edge of the phone, but it turns out that this antenna often does not provide better reception. Touching the antenna with your hand will limit its effectiveness, making it difficult for the phone to send and receive data and phone calls.

The evidence of the reception issue appears to be very clear (click to read).

There also appears to be evidence that this issue was known to Apple before the iPhone 4 was released, and was the subject of internal debate between engineers and industrial designers at the company.

Most disturbing, however, has been Apple’s reaction: tell customers that it is a “non-issue”, that customers should hold the phone differently, or they should pay $29 for a rubber case (or “bumper”) that Apple is selling (which is the first time Apple has ever sold its own case for the iPhone, as opposed to a case produced by a third-party). This is the party line from Steve Jobs down to Apple customer support.

Steve Jobs Describes Signal Strength as Non-Issue

Apple’s Internal Leak about Antenna Troubleshooting

So consumers appear to be left with a phone that has a significant design flaw, which the company was aware of prior to launch and never disclosed to the 1.7 million people who purchased the phone — namely, a phone that does not work very well when you hold it in your hand. At present, consumers’ only remedies are to pay for a case that may fix this problem and make their phones usable, on top of the premium they are already paying for the phone, or to return their phones and pay a 10% restocking fee (or more). We are looking to see what other remedies may be available.

View responses from our inquiry

More info here.

36 Comments

  1. Already Done earlier this week.
    Also contacted the other two law firms that filed already.

    This is what happens when whiners become mind zombie fools for Gizmodo.

    The folks at Gizmodo are laughing their asses off right now.

  2. This early after the release when anyone can get a full refund if they’re not satisfied…?

    Anyone who chooses litigation instead is sure to piss off any judge into a dismissal of charges.

    Loosers

  3. “So consumers appear to be left with a phone that has a significant design flaw, which the company was aware of prior to launch and never disclosed to the 1.7 million people who purchased the phone — namely, a phone that does not work very well when you hold it in your hand. At present, consumers’ only remedies are to pay for a case that may fix this problem and make their phones usable, on top of the premium they are already paying for the phone, or to return their phones and pay a 10% restocking fee (or more). “

    Design flaw: if this is mitigated with a software fix, then it is not a design flaw as they mean it. Also, many people report not having this problem. If it were a design flaw, it would be in all units.

    Does not work when you hold it in your hand: anecdotally, this is not true. It does work for many people. “some units do not work when some people hold it in their hand” is more appropriate.

    Remedies: except for holding it differently, using the provided headset, or a blue tooth headset. Don’t get me wrong – for people with this problem, they need a fix, not a workaround. However, since they provide a bumper as an example, they are already working in the realm of workarounds.

  4. It’s too bad the truth gets buried in this Gizmodo driven trap.

    My iPhone 4 gives me significantly better reception than my iPhone 3Gs did. In fact, I am able to get a stronger signal (-78dB) in the same areas of the house that the old 3GS got -86dB in.

    Yes, if I squeeze the phone in my hand covering both black strips, I can meat sack attenuate the thing down to -62dB, but I do not lose the calls and I do not get kicked off 3G as other phones do.

    By not touching those areas I am given a much better call quality than I was able to get before and I consider that a win.

    All the people on this board that joined in the whining have done nothing but help call forth the snakes. Litigators are supposed to protect people, but everyone knows the most disgusting of the bunch lay in wait for this kind of shit.

    To paraphrase MDN, “There’s Apple blood on Gizmodo’s pee yellow website.”

  5. @breeze…

    Apple will wind up settling out of court either refunding the cost of anyone who joins however many classes get filed now.

    Apple may likely have to supply free cases to those who join the class and more.

    iPhone sales will be dramatically hurt by this. Ironically I’ve already had a client that was preparing to go all iPhone say they want to hold off and look more closely at the Android phones.

    This is an all Mac client.

  6. @MDN

    Please report on whether this situation is prevalent in other countries. I have experimented now with four different iPhone 4s belonging to friends running on three different carriers here in the UK and have not seen any problem. I have, however, experienced the proximity sensor issue a few times. This is obviously fixable in software.

    The truth appears to be some people are having problems while others do not. To me, this does not indicate an endemic problem with the device per se. And why is no one commenting about potential network problems. Dumping a million-odd phones onto any network over a short period is bound to cause a certain amount of grief.

    =:~)

  7. iPhone 4 has best performance of any of the 3 iPhones I have owned previously. The so-called reception “problem” does not affect me. In fact, I’m getting better reception in “dead” areas than I have with any of the other phones (older iPhones, Razor, Samsung, etc) I’ve used. I hope these ambulance chasers get nothing.

  8. That’s why Steve Jobs’ “hold it in another way” suggestion is not a good solution. Users should be able to hold the iPhone in a natural way, whatever that way is for them. Otherwise, it’s bad industrial design because it goes against the user’s self-expression.

    Couldn’t have said it better. But it’s just what I thought, before I read it.

  9. loopy_nj
    -return the phone if you don’t like it and get your money back. ???
    Is that a joke? Bullshit! You DON’T want people to RETURN them. You want people to be satisfied. That’s just loopy.

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