Apple called an unprecedented press conference Friday to address consumer concerns with the iPhone 4's antenna. CEO Steve Jobs spent the first part of his presentation playing down the controversy, characterizing it as being "blown way out of proportion," and denying that the iPhone 4's attenuation issues are worse than any other smartphone's.
Though Jobs maintained that only a small number of users are experiencing a problem, Apple is offering all iPhone 4 customers a free case through September 30. In CNET's testing, an Apple-supplied "bumper" case solves any call quality issues, … Read more
Apple announced Friday that it will give away free iPhone bumpers to all iPhone 4 owners to help prevent the signal issue plaguing some phones. However, the company doesn't make enough bumpers for everyone, so it's working with third-party vendors to give away free cases, as well. We've compiled a list of third-party iPhone 4 cases to check out if you want alternatives to the standard iPhone 4 bumper.
During Friday's iPhone 4 press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered a very brief glimpse inside immense padded rooms that make up the company's antenna testing and design labs. According to Jobs, and to statistics posted later on Apple's Web site, the labs consist of 17 antenna characterization, or "anecohoic," chambers that are used to measure overall antenna performance. Various equipment simulates cellular towers, Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth device, and GPS satellites, and the phones are tested in a variety of positions including free space and next to human dummies and real people. The carbon foam … Read more
Since our report of possible stereo Bluetooth issues on the iPhone 4 a few weeks ago, several CNET readers have written in reporting that the problem extends beyond just the iPhone 4, and beyond just stereo Bluetooth. Indeed, many of our readers wrote that they've experienced odd Bluetooth glitches with their iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G loaded with the latest iOS 4 firmware, glitches that did not exist with iPhone OS 3.0. These glitches range from poor audio quality to intermittent connectivity to the headset.
Though we have yet to replicate many of these problems with our own iPhones at CNET, the number of e-mail and comments we've received about this is enough to make us sit up and notice. Here we list a few of them, just to give you an idea of the problems people are experiencing:
Reader Josh writes: "I am having a different issue with a Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset. It worked perfectly with my 3GS but now that it is connected to my iPhone 4, I am having difficulty. Although it connected fine and I have no problem hearing callers, all callers tell me that my voice is so poor that they can't understand a word that I am saying. Most describe it as a very bad connection, far away, as if in a tunnel."
Reader Douglas writes: "My issue is that my Plantronics discovery 975 is not working with my iPhone 4. If I put the phone in my pocket, wear it on my belt, or take just one step away the headset disconnects."… Read more
Apple will hold a press conference Friday at 10 a.m. PDT at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Although Apple has not said what it will discuss, it is expected that company execs will discuss the ongoing controversy with the iPhone 4's antenna. CNET will be at the press conference to bring you the full details, but in preparation we offer this FAQ on what we know so far.
Is Apple going to issue a full recall of the iPhone 4 on Friday? No. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the company will not do an official recall. That would be expensive and unnecessary. When consumer product companies issue recalls it's generally for product safety issues--like those Sony notebook batteries that were catching on fire three years ago. The iPhone 4 problems have to do with the phone's antenna reception, and are inconsistent and only affecting some customers. However, the antenna issue is still a problem Apple will have to address directly.
How will Apple fix the antenna problem for people who already bought the phone and people who still want to buy it but have waited? There are a couple of possibilities. Apple might offer free bumper cases, since that has been shown to alleviate the iPhone 4's antenna issue. Or Apple could decide to make it up to customers through an Apple Store credit--the way it did after the iPhone price-drop fiasco in 2007--ostensibly to allow people to buy a case of their choice for free.
There have also been rumors that a hardware modification is in the works. It could be a redesigned iPhone 4 with the antenna located in a different place than the current design (which would be a stretch in such a short period of time), or a plastic coating or molding that will cover the spot where the phone's two antennas meet. Perhaps this is something that Apple Genius Bar employees could fix, or maybe Apple will give customers who already own an iPhone 4 a new device.
Has CNET experienced problems with the antenna? In our testing, and in a video that we posted last week, CNET has found that touching the antenna gap on the iPhone 4's lower left side causes call quality to degrade. We tested three different iPhone 4s in various locations in San Francisco and experienced problems using various hand positions, including one finger on the gap, cradling the handset gently, and holding it tighter with our left hand on either side. In all instances, we made sure not to cover the microphone with our hands.
Our exact experiences varied when touching the area. At times our voice cut out completely, whereas on other occasions the audio became garbled. We did not, however, suffer any dropped calls. We also found, though not as frequently, that data upload and download speeds dropped and the number of bars in the signal strength meter decreased from five to two. … Read more
If you own an Android phone, you already know how to use Vlingo's SuperDialer, a beta feature that expands the app's vocally triggered "call" command to search not just your personal phone book, but also a wider directory of businesses.
Tap Vlingo's home screen widget and speak out the name of the business or category of business you'd like to call, for example "Call Little Star Pizza" or "call pizza." (Omitting the "call" command will trigger the default Google search, but not the SuperDialer's business listings.)
Believe it or not, we have news to discuss this week that doesn't concern the iPhone 4. Android is back front and center with the Samsung Captivate and Vibrant, the first two Galaxy S models to go on sale. Bonnie gives us the scoop on both models and reports on the hot New York weather. Also in the podcast, Nicole tackles Android from the budget angle; Kent lists silly cell phone names; and, yes, we even talk about the latest controversy with Apple's handset.
Thanks to a leaked summer device catalog, we can confirm some of the rumored specs for the Droid 2 from Motorola and Verizon.
Listed as "coming soon," the Droid 2 is found to be sitting front and center on the inside of the catalog, next to the Droid X. Looking through the pages, we can see that the handset has an 8GB memory card preloaded and comes with a 1GHz processor and 5-megapixel camera. Other features include 512MB RAM, a more spacious slideout QWERTY keyboard, and 3G Mobile Hotspot capability.
It appears this Droid 2 will fall neatly … Read more
The follow-up to the Samsung Galaxy Spica has made its way online, and it looks a tad familiar. We first reported on the Samsung i5800 last month, referring to it as the Galaxy 3 phone. It appears we were only half right, as this phone looks to pick up the name of Galaxy Teos when it hits carriers around the globe.
A second version of the i5800 has also been spotted online bearing the name Galaxy Naos. It is said to be an Orange France exclusive when it arrives, presumably later this summer.
On Call runs every two weeks, alternating between answering reader questions and discussing hot topics in the cell phone world.
Sprint's CEO, Dan Hesse, got the rumor mill churning yesterday when he spoke to the Financial Times about another possible merger between his company and T-Mobile. According to the newspaper, Hesse said that there is a "logic" to such an arrangement if the two companies were to adopt LTE as a 4G technology. Hesse did not elaborate any further, but even one well-placed word is enough to get the wireless industry talking.