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Wednesday, 30 June 2010 11:15

iPhone 4 Bumpers are an implied requirement for left-handers

Written by Jon Worrel
iphone_4_logo  iphone_4_antenna

"This changes everything, again." Yeah, right.
Over the past six days since launch, many iPhone 4 customers have been fuming loads of anger at Apple Store employees regarding the infamous reception problem that has been plaguing the device. Steve Jobs, CEO and big boss of the company itself, has been receiving consistent emails about the issue from ordinary consumers who have been questioning the possibility of a fix and its expected release.

The first recognition of the issue came last Thursday during launch day when Steve Jobs responded directly via his company email account to a customer who explained it was a common issue. Jobs responded briefly and promptly, telling the customer to “just avoid holding [the iPhone 4] in that way.” The company later released an official statement claiming that “any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas.” It went on to advise customers to “avoid gripping the [iPhone 4] in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.” In its iPhone 4 teardown photoshoot, iFixIt.com captured high-resolution photos of Apple's lower antenna/speaker enclosure which can be viewed here.

ifixit_iphone_4_lower_antenna

Cause of the problem - iPhone 4 lower antenna
Image property of iFixIt.com

On Tuesday, Apple internally confirmed to its support staff that reception issues surrounding the iPhone 4 do indeed exist. Yet, the bigger question to be wondered is how AppleCare reps are going to respond to the issue during normal work hours until Apple issues its fix. Thanks to a leaked crib sheet given to AppleCare employees, there is a specific customer dissatisfaction handling procedure that must be followed when dealing with any reception complaints regarding the iPhone 4. Reps are advised to tell customers that the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is “the best that [Apple] has ever shipped,” and that internal testing confirms it is better than the iPhone 3GS.

However, reps are also advised to inform customers that an iPhone 4 case or Bumper made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by serving as a barrier between the user’s hand and the metal contact point on the phone’s aluminum bezel.

Clearly, Apple is taking the position that nothing is wrong with the antenna, although it was unfortunately expected because the company will do anything to prevent tarnishing its flagship mobile product’s image. This perspective supplements the iPhone 4’s arrogant motto that Steve famously noted during WWDC 2010, “This changes everything, again.”

iphone_4_bumpers

The only thing that is is going to change for customers who have already purchased the iPhone 4 will be an extra $29 out of their wallets for an official iPhone 4 Bumper made of durable rubber and molded plastic. Catered specifically towards left-handed customers like ourselves, the two-tone iPhone 4 Bumper fits snugly around the edges of the device and gives it a splash of color. Apple claims “it’s a unique way to personalize your iPhone 4.” Quite frankly, we believe it’s a great way to customize an expensive investment by tacking on more unintended accessories just to get the thing working correctly.

Nevertheless, a quick glance through history shows us that the addition of “implied” accessories that are required to get product working have become all too commonplace. We all have experienced devices like these throughout our lifetimes. For those who purchased once, the iPhone 4 is just the newest member of the bunch.

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 June 2010 13:46

Jon Worrel

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