We’ve seen this one before: Apple iPhone 4 has an antenna-related issue; who’s really affected?

“The controversy over the iPhone 4’s antenna issues continues to grow, particularly after Consumer Reports confirmed yesterday that every iPhone 4 suffers from signal attenuation when the phone is held with the lower left corner covered — a report that we confirmed with results from our own custom signal metering app,” Nilay Patel reports for Engadget. “At this point, there’s no longer any question in our minds that the iPhone 4’s antenna can be made to lose signal by holding it ‘wrong’ — and we definitely think it’s more than a little silly that simply holding the phone in your left hand has been nicknamed the ‘death grip.'”

“That said, however, it’s not at all clear what the real-world effects of the antenna issue actually are for most people — as we’ve repeatedly said, several iPhone 4s owned by the Engadget staff (including our review unit) have never experienced so much as a single dropped call, while others suffer from signal issues that results in lost calls and unresponsive data in a dramatic way,” Patel reports. “What’s more, at this point Apple’s sold well over two million iPhone 4s, and we simply haven’t heard the sort of outcry from users that we’d normally hear if a product this high-profile and this popular had a showstopping defect. Honestly, it’s puzzling — we know that the phone has an antenna-related problem, but we’re simply not able to say what that issue actually means for everyday users.”

Patel reports, “So we’re doing what we can do: we’ve collected reports from every member of the Engadget staff who’s using the phone, as well as reached out to a variety of tech industry colleagues for their experiences. As you’ll see, most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s, but the people who are having problems are having maddening issues in an inconsistent way. We’d say it all comes down to the network — particularly in New York City, where AT&T just completed a major upgrade — but even that isn’t a consistent factor in predicting experience. Ultimately, we just won’t know what’s really going on until Apple comes clean and addresses this issue (and the growing PR nightmare it’s become), but for now we can say with some certainty that not everyone is affected, and those that are seem to be in the minority.

Read the full report here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s déjà vu all over again. Let’s roll the ol’ iCal back about two years and see what we find:

Additional testing of Apple iPhone’s 3G antenna again shows completely normal results – August 27, 2008
Apple iPhone 3G antenna test verdict: completely normal – August 25, 2008
Apple hit with lawsuit over iPhone’s 3G speed and reliability – August 21, 2008
• Apple: iPhone 2.0.2 Software Update ‘improves communication with 3G networks’ – August 20, 2008
• Apple releases iPhone, iPod touch 2.0.2 Software Update – August 18, 2008
• Steve Jobs: iPhone 3G reception issues affect 2% of total units shipped; software update coming soon – August 18, 2008
• iPhone 3G reception issues could be fixed via firmware update as early as this week – August 18, 2008
• WSJ: Apple preps software fix for iPhone 3G reception issues reported by some – August 15, 2008
• ABC News, Associated Press propagate iPhone FUD – August 15, 2008
• Nomura analyst Richard Windsor and his extraordinary knack for sniffing out Apple iPhone ‘issues’ – August 14, 2008
• Software fix on the way for iPhone 3G reception glitches – August 14, 2008
• Aussie telco source blames Apple secrecy for iPhone 3G reception issues – August 13, 2008
• Apple and AT&T investigating reports of iPhone 3G connection issues – August 12, 2008

Interesting, isn’t it? Even in reruns. Whoever’s participating in this year’s short and distort scam is laughing all the way to the bank.

46 Comments

  1. Get real. This is happening to people who don’t care about Apple’s stock price, and those that do. Obviously if Apple remains deadly silent with no fix people are going to speculate. Apple have only themselves to blame, both for releasing a questionable product and for handling the outcry so poorly.

  2. Remember when it was the battery. What, you can’t remove it?! We just retired the old first generation iPhone. The battery and phone are still working great. I may give that one to my Daughter. Her husband has her using some junky Verizon throw away phone. I can add her to our family plan for about $30 a month I think. That iPhone still has several years in it!

  3. Bongo, I have an iPhone 4 with a edge bumper. Works great. No problems. Get a bumper. You will spend several thousands of dollars over the next 2 or 3 years using the iPhone 4. Protect it and get a bumper.

  4. I have a bumper-like cover from Griffin that covers the antenna, which I would have regardless of the issue. So, no issue for me. Great phone. Wouldn’t use another.

  5. @Bongo

    if this were a significant problem for any significant number of real people, don’t you figure they would taking Jobs up on his offer to let them return their phones? and wouldn’t we then be hearing more about that, rather than just people bitching about this supposed issue while (like Consumer reports) acknowledging by their failure to return the phone that even with this supposedly dire “issue,” iPhone 4 is hands-down the best phone in the world.

    iPhone 4s are sold out cross-country, 3-week backlog for online orders, millions upon millions sold. Meanwhile overall iPhone consumer satisfaction ahead of the competition by nearly double, as MDN reported earlier.

    I’ve said it before, anyone has any problem with your iPhone 4 just send it over here, all this attention and FUD just makes me grate all the harder at my ineligibility for upgrade until January.

  6. I think that I’ve finally figured out Apple’s strategy. THe rumors and press are advertising the name of the iPhone for brand recognition and they also slow down the rate of purchase. The purchase rate is already capped by the rate of production. So there will be a longer uptake period and they will not need to produce iPhones as fast as they might have. Also no bad press about long lines as demand overwhelmingly outstrips supply.

  7. For me, it became painfully obvious that this issue was overblown when those Gizmodo bozos, immediately after complaining that the antenna issue was going to be huge in that it was serious, pointed out the fact they were able to make and receive calls from areas that they have not been able to make calls from previous iPhone. So yeah it’s probably time to let this entire thing go.

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