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Through an RDF, darkly
June 25, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

"That stainless steel band that runs around is the primary structural element of the phone. And there are these three slits in it. It turns out, this is part of some brilliant engineering which actually uses the stainless steel band as part of the antenna system... it's never been done before. And it's really cool engineering!"
Less than three weeks after Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 4's (previously) revolutionary signal-boosting design, the internet discovers a fatal flaw that causes calls to drop when the bottom-left corner is touched. Jobs personally offered one customer a solution via email: "Just avoid holding it in that way." Apple's marketing department apparently didn't get the memo.

Just a bit of tech drama erupting over on Engadget, a site often criticized for favoring Apple products over the competition. The iPhone 4 has been suffering from other problems as well, including yellow spots in the screen (fortunately a temporary non-issue), and glass that scratches and shatters on impact.

Not to be a negative nancy... despite these issues the iPhone 4 is still basking in heaps of critical acclaim. Some are calling it the "best smartphone ever." No gadget is without its flaws, and the iPhone 4 will certainly leave its mark on an industry that is innovating in top gear.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis (230 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I cannot replicate the issue on my iPhone 4.

Also, it boggles my mind that people hold their phone in a way where they hand would naturally bridge the two areas that allegedly cause the problem. It doesn't seem like a natural grip for a leftie or a rightie.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:34 AM on June 25, 2010


That's not actually a real email from Steve Jobs, is it? I though it was just a doctored image that someone threw together, but now I'm seeing it passed around as legitimate.
posted by niles at 8:36 AM on June 25, 2010


"Doctor, it hurts when I do this..."

Okay, can someone explain to me the desire to be an early-adopter of technology? I'm not being holier-than-thou, I just don't get it. The lines at the SoHo store alone prove that this is something very basic which I do not understand, rather than me being better than other people.

Every time a new gadget drops, there is just a giant influx of awful problems with it a few days in. Problems which render it anywhere from to moderately disabled wholly useless. Problems which require waiting for a fix. Why not wait? What is the urge?
posted by griphus at 8:37 AM on June 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


It'd most definitely the way I hold my iPhone. I can kill five bars if reception by holding the phone naturally. Southpaw signal is a real thing sadly.

I also have a yellow spot in the corner of my display. Perhaps it will evaporate but that don't explain why the same corner shows backlight contamination on dark screens. I think the spot may be indicative of a bad bond but I'm not sure.
posted by polyhedron at 8:38 AM on June 25, 2010


If that really is Steve Jobs, he's funny.
posted by joni. at 8:39 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"That don't" was a construction of the iPhone's autocorrect I swear.

For all it's flaws I am pleased with my new phone. I am confident that the Apple store will resolve any manufacturing issues to my satisfaction and I will eventually buy a case that should prevent the antenna grounding.
posted by polyhedron at 8:41 AM on June 25, 2010


Macrumors says the e-mail from Jobs is legit

Related: Just avoid holding it that way
posted by exhilaration at 8:41 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it boggles my mind that people hold their phone in a way where they hand would naturally bridge the two areas that allegedly cause the problem. It doesn't seem like a natural grip for a leftie or a rightie.

Check the "get the memo" link, apparently Apple itself is out to boggle you.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:42 AM on June 25, 2010


It'd most definitely the way I hold my iPhone. I can kill five bars if reception by holding the phone naturally. Southpaw signal is a real thing sadly.

Yup, when I hold the phone naturally I drop from 5 bars to "Searching..." in about 60 seconds.

As for the early adopter question, I don't really know how to answer it. I was ready to upgrade and I've never adopted early before, so I though it would be...Fun? Exciting?

What I will say is that I was fully prepared for the likelihood of glitches at every stage, from activation to usage. I can understand people who want to adopt early. I can also understand people who don't want to adopt early. What I have trouble understanding is people who are flipping their shit about this. Apple in particular is notorious for launch day issues. If that's not your bag, wait six months.
posted by rollbiz at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the NY Times:
Even Brian Lam, Gizmodo’s editorial director, saw an upside to the iPhone 4, antenna problems and all. “We are paying attention to the antenna issue because it could be a big deal,” he said.

But Mr. Lam said that for years, he had not been able to use older iPhones to make calls from his home. That changed on Thursday, after he bought an iPhone 4. “I have made three hours of calls today,” he said.
I would not describe this as a "fatal flaw".
posted by i_have_a_computer at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


I would not describe this as a "fatal flaw".

I should also mention that my bar dropping has translated to slower data transfers, but I've yet to drop a call or have one that wasn't crystal clear. The phone works on the rare occasions I actually make phone calls. So yeah, not a "fatal flaw".
posted by rollbiz at 8:50 AM on June 25, 2010


The problem sucks, but it doesn't seem like really bad one.

That said, Apple should be responding better to this in a very public fashion. They should be throwing in free cover with it or at the very least, a cover for any iPhone 4 owner who wants one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on June 25, 2010


AGAIN I AM SUPERIOR TO YOU DORKS WITH YOUR AWESOME MINI-COMPUTER DEVICE THAT GIVES EVERYONE BONERS!
posted by Mister_A at 8:55 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


AGAIN I AM SUPERIOR TO YOU DORKS WITH YOUR AWESOME MINI-COMPUTER DEVICE THAT GIVES EVERYONE BONERS!

Just a few hundred people, actually. It was an electrical short in units starting with the serial number A-655.
posted by griphus at 8:57 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank God my contract is not up until March 2011. They'll have worked this out by then. If there is anything to work out.
posted by fixedgear at 8:58 AM on June 25, 2010


Just a few hundred people, actually. It was an electrical short in units starting with the serial number A-655.

Source?
posted by designbot at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2010


I've read some of the internet panic about this. I can't replicate this on my iPhone when holding it normally. I was able to get a bar or two to drop if I completely cover the bottom of my phone with both hands.

I have to wonder if it's something that's also related to local tower signal strength.

Or maybe this is just one of those YMMV things.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:00 AM on June 25, 2010


...DEVICE THAT GIVES EVERYONE BONERS!

Don't believe every piece of spam you receive.
posted by Babblesort at 9:02 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


c'mon, griphus, don't toss shit like that out there without a link. are you trying to start a flame war between the "he's serious" and "he's joking" factions?!
posted by lodurr at 9:02 AM on June 25, 2010


Early adopters are people in search of the next big thing, who have money to spend. Maybe they give into the hype surrounding a new product launch, maybe they really like trying new technology, or maybe they have enough money that buying the newest shiny thing is no real impact on their finances.

Why buy the latest designer clothes, when you can wait for them to go on sale later in their lifespan? Or why does anyone buy books when they're first published in hardback? Wait a few months, and they'll be in paperback, and wait a bit longer and you can buy them used for even less, or even get them from the library. Buying the very newest thing is not a unique habit among tech geeks and gadget-heads alone.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:02 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


If only someone had touched one before they started selling them...
posted by Naberius at 9:04 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why buy the latest designer clothes, when you can wait for them to go on sale later in their lifespan? Or why does anyone buy books when they're first published in hardback? Wait a few months, and they'll be in paperback, and wait a bit longer and you can buy them used for even less, or even get them from the library. Buying the very newest thing is not a unique habit among tech geeks and gadget-heads alone.

But is it the results of conditioning by the media "new and improved" vs "tried and true" ?
posted by infini at 9:07 AM on June 25, 2010


I half wonder if this wasn't discovered in Apple's field tests because the phones were always camouflaged in plastic cases.

Which makes me wonder whether you can avoid the problem by covering the metal housing with electrical tape, a rubber band, or one of those silicone thingies, if not a full-covering case.
posted by ardgedee at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2010


Just a few hundred people, actually. It was an electrical short in units starting with the serial number A-655.

I call bullshit. The serial number doesn't start with anything remotely like that.
posted by rollbiz at 9:08 AM on June 25, 2010


Change your phones antenna. Not that big of a deal.
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Source?

c'mon, griphus, don't toss shit like that out there without a link.

...okay, it was a joke about getting an involuntary erection due to an electrical short electrocuting one's penis while the iPhone was in one's pocket. I apologize for any confusion I may have caused in my reply to a comment about boners.
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Apple should just throw in one of those rubber bumper 'cases' in every box, which not only protects the thing in a cute way, but also makes a sweaty-handed electrical bridge impossible. Or, you know, put a one inch piece of tape on the thing, already.

(Do people really use iPhones without any kind of case? Such people are too brave or too rich, I think.)
posted by rokusan at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2010


I was just reading this article today, about how there was just a very basic failure in the industrial design philosophy behind this iPhone. (note. gizmodo link, in case you hate gizmodo and want to avoid them.)

and it raises some really good points. I almost (almost!) wish I hadn't already ordered my phone. I mean, I've been pissed at my 3g's poor performance for a long time now, and this coincides with me needing to get my phone either replaced or fixed, anyway, so replacing it with the new model seems like a good idea even with the bad design.

nevertheless, between the antenna nonsense and the fact that no one at apple apparently thought about the fact that glass isn't just fragile but also brittle, no matter how hard you make it... well there really does seem to have been a kind of massive ball dropped on the industrial design end. and at the end of the day it's really hard to justify the use of glass on this in terms of functionality rather than appearance.

of course, slap a bumper on there and the problem's solved. but the fuckers should be giving them out for free if they basically complete what should be in box functionality.

thank god when mine arrives I'm going to ignore all of this and squeal like a schoolgirl in joy.
posted by shmegegge at 9:10 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which makes me wonder whether you can avoid the problem by covering the metal housing with electrical tape, a rubber band, or one of those silicone thingies, if not a full-covering case.

That wouldn't be very cool looking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:12 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


@ardgedee - yes, in fact Jobs suggested you put the phone in one of the little rubber-band-peekaboo case type things Apple sells for the iPhone 4 (the first model that Apple has offered their own branded case for)

Related - it's the FCC's fault.
posted by kcds at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I first saw the phone with the insulating spacers separating the antennas in the frame I wondered if a hand might have enough conductivity under certain conditions to cause issues: pressing really hard, sweating, low signal strength. This is one spot where Apple's cult of secrecy likely caused problems in field testing. One suspects ATT has Apple's campus well covered so it may never have turned up in testing on campus. But for field testing the phones were supposedly disguised in 3GS cases, these cases keeping hands from actually contacting the antennas. So if there is a problem with hand conductivity, especially with marginal signal strength, it wouldn't have been caught.

The problem could be mitigated by a non-conductive coating over the frame, like a clearcoat, that wouldn't adversely affect the looks of the phone while keeping hands from electrically bridging the antennas. Also, I think a good faith effort on Apple's part would be to provide affected users with bumpers or cases, that should also eliminate the problem. Yeah, it should have been caught, but I can see why it wasn't.
posted by 6550 at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2010


rollbiz: “I call bullshit. The serial number doesn't start with anything remotely like that.”

Exactly. Also, I haven't seen any iPhone 4 owners with boners yet, so I really don't buy it. Sure it's just anecdata, but until somebody sends me pictures, I'm not going to believe it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2010


Also, that FCC's fault article isn't 100% accurate. Reports are that the bumpers, which insulate the hand from the phone, solve the problem. If it was just a matter of the hand's position over a bottom mounted antenna then it wouldn't make a difference. It seems specifically related to hand's causing an electrical connection between the antennas on the lower left corner.
posted by 6550 at 9:15 AM on June 25, 2010


It seems like Apple's design policy in recent years has focused more on what looks good, and will sell, over what will be easy to work on or what will last. Kind of like Ikea.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:16 AM on June 25, 2010 [7 favorites]



Apple : Hold Different
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:17 AM on June 25, 2010 [25 favorites]


Yesterday I read this interesting article about the iPhone's antenna. It's written by some sort of RF engineer who has designed antenna systems, and specifically discusses the design and certification process that probably led to the decision to put the antenna where it is.

In short, the FCC has a requirement for testing cellphones to ensure that they comply with absorbed-RF limits (basically that it won't cook your brain/head too much). But these tests just suspend the phone in space next to a simulated head; they don't have a hand holding the phone. This causes the antennas to be put in a place that minimizes RF absorption by the head, but puts it right into your hand instead.

From a health standpoint this might be just fine -- I don't know whether there's any real evidence of RF heating causing problems in heads or hands, and it might be that just disregarding one's hand is fine for the purposes of the test -- but it seems to lead to suboptimal designs in terms of actually using the phone as a phone.

It's an interesting read and it seems as though there's a lot of design-by-committee (or design-by-regulatory-authority) that led to the flaw; it wasn't a simple oversight or failure to test.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Call dropping that may not be AT&T's fault?
posted by benzenedream at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2010


another early adopter here (fortunate enough to have apple deliver it though, no lines for me):

I can't replicate it, even using two hands all over the casing. I've tried to hold it lefty, righty and nothing. Also I know it's only been two days but the signal seems much better here in manhattan. YMMV
posted by slapshot57 at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2010


But is it the results of conditioning by the media "new and improved" vs "tried and true" ?

This is probably an entire discussion unto itself.

Some people bought it because it's the newest shiny.

Some folks like myself may have bought it because it's an upgrade from an older model.

My new iPhone is worlds faster than my 3G was. Things that I used to have to wait on, now function instantly. The camera is much better. The FaceTime camera, while not a "needed" thing, is really great to use. I talked to an old friend on FaceTime last night. He remarked that it's really "Star Trek". I also find the new case design to be much easier to hold than the old "bar of soap" form factor.

Did I need to upgrade? Probably not. But there are many improvements and new features that I will use and enjoy.

I've had a very good user experience with my Apple products. In 20 years, I've had exactly one repair performed, replacing a logic board on a Powerbook. They had my laptop back to me in two days. I have had similar good experience buying Honda automobiles.

Some people have had problems. I have not.

My good experience + new features and design = willingness to buy early.

That's my $.02 anyway.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:22 AM on June 25, 2010


They should offer a non-conductive iGlove for people to wear if they don't want to reduce their cool factor by hiding their iPhone in a case.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:22 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holding my phone and checking email this morning resulted in me missing an important call.

Yes, all phones lose bars if you meat fist them. No, that is not the case here -- at least, not for me. I'm talking a basic using-my-thumb-to-type grip and going from full signal to no signal in under a minute.

AT&T has enough coverage issues, the last thing I need is Apple working against me.

Otherwise, the phone is brilliant and I had been planning on putting it in a case anyway, so.. whatever. I'm just shocked by the number of people trying to defend this, not to mention Apple's craptastic method of responding to the criticism (so far).

answers to other questions:

a)yes, you can apparently "solve" the issue with scotch tape or a rubber band or anything else that stops the bridge.
b) no, you don't need to be holding the phone left handed. It's more about where your fingers naturally rest (at least, for me)
c) this is the 4th generation of a product. Hardly early adopting. I see it more as a part of the upgrade cycle.
posted by rulethirty at 9:23 AM on June 25, 2010


It seems like Apple's design policy in recent years has focused more on what looks good, and will sell, over what will be easy to work on or what will last. Kind of like Ikea.

Except IKEA doesn't even pretend to be a premium store
posted by infini at 9:32 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


> (the first model that Apple has offered their own branded case for)

Not quite - Apple touts their iPod Socks for the iPhone as well as the full-sized iPods, and they've sold a fold-over leather case in the past. But I think you're right in a general sense: Their ventures into the accessory markets for their own products have usually been half-hearted or seemingly meant to lead other accessory makers towards the type of products Apple wants to see.

It might also be true this time as well, but if the silicone bumpers end up meaning the difference between a phone working well or working poorly, it's going to be a harder argument for Apple to make that these $30 items are accessories, rather than requirements that have to be bought separately because they are available in a variety of colors.
posted by ardgedee at 9:33 AM on June 25, 2010


But Mr. Lam said that for years, he had not been able to use older iPhones to make calls from his home. That changed on Thursday, after he bought an iPhone 4. “I have made three hours of calls today,” he said.

He made phone calls at home WITH A PHONE! Will Apple's innovations ever end?
posted by octothorpe at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2010 [18 favorites]


I was able to get a bar or two to drop if I completely cover the bottom of my phone with both hands.

What happens if you sit on it?
posted by R. Mutt at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2010


First and foremost, the rule that good design has to be durable. Good design has to stand the pass of time both aesthetically and physically. Good design has to age gracefully. The object, whatever it is, can't get easily scratched. Its surface can't easily shatter. It has to perdure. It has to arrive to the future and feel at home and natural.

Then, good design also has to be thorough. Nothing must be left to chance. And good design has to make a product useful. It has to show respect to the user by providing the function it claims with perfection and accuracy. Its form has to follow function to its final consequences.


From the Gizmodo link. Impressive.
posted by infini at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2010


What happens if you sit on it?

Waiting for release of new ButtTime™ app. Will report back later.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:37 AM on June 25, 2010


it wasn't a simple oversight or failure to test.

Except that we know something about how this was tested, due to the whole gizmodo debacle.

Apple was field testing these in a fake case that was designed to mask the fact that it was a new version. The fake case would naturally stop this problem from ever showing up. So in fact, it's quite possible that they could've caught this if they were walking around with naked iphone 4s prior to release. Which they'd never do.

On the other hand, imagine the engineers did know that this would happen. Can you imagine them storming into into Ives' or Jobs' office and saying "we have to put a rubber bumper around the exposed gap in the casing"? They'd be laughed out of Cupertino.
posted by condour75 at 9:41 AM on June 25, 2010


That would be one smelly app.
posted by joni. at 9:42 AM on June 25, 2010


It happens to me. I don't really care, since it's not how I hold my phone. I agree it's a problem, but people are flipping out WAY TOO MUCH. There are certain hand positions that affect every phone negatively.

And I would wager that a majority of the people shouting "TRAVESTY!" don't have an iPhone 4.
posted by supercres at 9:47 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


My social status remains elevated whether the phone works or not. Seriously, what kind of freak buys an iPhone because they want to make phone calls?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:51 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's an E-Meter!
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


here are certain hand positions that affect every phone negatively.

I've heard people say this a few times, and I think I need more information. what happens when you hold another phone in what position? I've never owned a phone that would lose all connection to the network if you touched a certain corner of it before. Is this really comparable to other phone issues?

also, stay classy BeerFilter.
posted by shmegegge at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2010


niles That's not actually a real email from Steve Jobs, is it?

Ding! Mail. OMG! It’s Steve Jobs.
posted by mlis at 9:54 AM on June 25, 2010


I have to wonder if it's something that's also related to local tower signal strength.

Correct. Gruber has links to a couple of people who can replicate the problem only in certain locations relative to the cell towers. This is obviously a problem that only occurs in areas of weak 3G reception, and reportedly does not affect 2G reception at all.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:56 AM on June 25, 2010


[A few comments removed. Random deraily linkdumps aren't great, feel free to skip the thread if you don't want to talk about what it's about.]
posted by cortex at 10:00 AM on June 25, 2010


I haven't had any problems with the antenna-- reception is fabulous-- but then again, I am paranoid so I bought a case right away.

I'm mostly aggravated because the iPhone 4 won't sync with Mac OX 10.4-- you need 10.5 or 10.6. My computer's only 3 1/2 years old, and it works fine, so I haven't had any reason to upgrade the OS. It's kind of BS that Apple didn't publicize this particular issue, IMHO.

Anyway, I'm not really an early adopter-- I've never had an iPhone before-- but I wanted to get myself one earlier this year and thought it made more sense to wait for the new model.
posted by miss tea at 10:02 AM on June 25, 2010


It doesn't seem like a natural grip for a leftie or a rightie.
It is for me, and it's also the grip they use in all their marketing shots.

What I have trouble understanding is people who are flipping their shit about this.
That's how you get Apple to fix things. Until the Neistat brothers spray-painted Manhattan about how "iPod's unreplaceable battery only lasts 18 months", when your iPod battery died you had to buy a whole new iPod. After: $30 replacement programme.

here are certain hand positions that affect every phone negatively.
This is true, and it's what Apple's trying to sell, too. But there's "affect negatively" and "kill all signal in a matter of 10 seconds".
posted by bonaldi at 10:02 AM on June 25, 2010


going from full signal to no signal in under a minute.

I would expect you'd actually achieve this the instance you made contact but the effects were masked by signal strength averaging on the display. Short circuits don't gradually happen.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:05 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is obviously a problem that only occurs in areas of weak 3G reception, and reportedly does not affect 2G reception at all.

how's 4G reception?

/ducks

Also iTunes on PC now appears to be hugely glitchy, and the upgrade process for the 3G is just hanging for a bunch of people. Deeply shoddy.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on June 25, 2010


Correct. Gruber has links to a couple of people who can replicate the problem only in certain locations relative to the cell towers. This is obviously a problem that only occurs in areas of weak 3G reception, and reportedly does not affect 2G reception at all.

Strong 3g where I live, and I have been trying all morning (at home and work) to reproduce this problem. No signal droppage whatsoever.
posted by almostmanda at 10:06 AM on June 25, 2010


entropicamericana: "Also, it boggles my mind that people hold their phone in a way where they hand would naturally bridge the two areas that allegedly cause the problem. It doesn't seem like a natural grip for a leftie or a rightie."

Yeah, who holds their phone like that?
posted by mullingitover at 10:12 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, who holds their phone like that?

Every thumbnail in that image shows people doing everything EXCEPT MAKING A PHONE CALL.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actual quality as a differentiator is much harder to pull off than perceived quality. Apple would not be the first manufacturer to learn this lesson without admitting to itself that they've learned it, and they won't be the last.

As for whethe rthey knew about it: I think Condour75 has a point, you just do not get to push shit like this up the food chain at most companies, regardless of how important the product is. Bad design shit happens. I suspect Apple has a really terrible internal culture in that regard -- that good design happens there in spite of the culture rather than because of it -- but that wouldn't make them different from most other companies.

As for how they're handling it, that strikes me as quintessentially Applesque. From Lisa onward (with a minor relief during the Scully era) their approach has been largely predicated on the idea that every other business in the computing industry are wrong about every point where they disagree with Apple.
posted by lodurr at 10:16 AM on June 25, 2010


IF it's really an electrical conductivity thing, I'd suspect that just painting the exposed antenna bits on that side with some clear nail polish would solve the problem pretty well and be invisible in use. Us canadians won't have the fone for a month, or I'd try it right now. Anyone?

(Not too modest to admit that when I saw that design at the keynote, my first thought was: COOL. The second thought was: but, what about antenna bridging with sweaty hands? So I'm sure someone in Apple's engineering department raised this point and for whatever reason they went ahead anyway thus: bumpers. Which should be free in the box.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:16 AM on June 25, 2010


Every thumbnail in that image shows people doing everything EXCEPT MAKING A PHONE CALL.

Losing the signal kills the data as well.
posted by bonaldi at 10:18 AM on June 25, 2010


very thumbnail in that image shows people doing everything EXCEPT MAKING A PHONE CALL.

Seriously, why are you doing this? Lots of people here are telling you that it seems quite natural to them to hold the phone in a way that breaks its functionality. Why are you arguing with them -- and for that matter, what is your actual point?
posted by lodurr at 10:19 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Strong 3g where I live, and I have been trying all morning (at home and work) to reproduce this problem. No signal droppage whatsoever.

You're cradling the phone in the fleshy part of your left hand, with no bumper or cover on it? Interesting.
posted by bonaldi at 10:19 AM on June 25, 2010


Every thumbnail in that image shows people doing everything EXCEPT MAKING A PHONE CALL.

They're also not receiving phone calls. Is it because nobody's calling, or because the signal strength is too low?
posted by mullingitover at 10:20 AM on June 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was sitting here thinking about clear book tape, but nail polish should have been a no brainer. Good idea. Excellent, even.

(I have a little bottle of Sally Hansen's in my sewing kit that I put on the bridge of my glasses to keep the metal from irritating my skin. Works like a charm.)
posted by lodurr at 10:21 AM on June 25, 2010


Okay, can someone explain to me the desire to be an early-adopter of technology? I'm not being holier-than-thou, I just don't get it.

Nor do I. I have friends who took the day off from work yesterday so that they could get the iPhone. Really?
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on June 25, 2010


Lots of people here are telling you that it seems quite natural to them to hold the phone in a way that breaks its functionality.

The fact that this is not a uniformly repeatable phenomenon with all users should tell you something. That said, I thought it was hilarious that there's a grid of pictures showing people doing everything except making a phone call, in a blogger post complaining about not being able to make phone calls.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 AM on June 25, 2010


Simple solution: bring back sidetalkin'! (On second thought: no, don't).
posted by chavenet at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Okay, can someone explain to me the desire to be an early-adopter of technology? I'm not being holier-than-thou, I just don't get it. The lines at the SoHo store alone prove that this is something very basic which I do not understand, rather than me being better than other people.

You aren't being an early adopter of technology, you are being an early adopter of the ideas that give rise to that technology product. The belief is that by acquiring the phone before others, you are essentially taking on those ideas, not merely the design ideas but also the executive mindset that chooses to emphasize design over cost or function, as your own, as your own before other people have them.

The phrase "early adopter" was coined in the book Diffusion of Innovations, which should be required reading for every mefite. The book/theory makes clear that this does not apply only to technology, but also to ideas generally.

The books explains the phenomena of new media tending to appear more liberal (or progressive), while older/dying media skew more conservative.

It is really a brilliant and fascinating book, and everyone should read it.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


The fact that this is not a uniformly repeatable phenomenon with all users should tell you something

Yes: It tells me that this is a complex manufactured product. Because that's also true of almost all other complex manufactured products that have major bugs in them.
posted by lodurr at 10:27 AM on June 25, 2010


That said, I thought it was hilarious that there's a grid of pictures showing people doing everything except making a phone call, in a blogger post complaining about not being able to make phone calls.

The point you're ignoring is that Apple says not to hold the phone in exactly the way they're demonstrating. Also, what Bonaldi said.
posted by mullingitover at 10:28 AM on June 25, 2010


damn you pastabagel. i almost had my reading list under control.
posted by lodurr at 10:28 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can reproduce the problem 100% of the time. I don't know why it takes a few seconds to happen, because like Ogre says above, short circuits don't happen gradually. Maybe it has something to do with the gain adjustment, but myself and several coworkers are all able to drop calls on command. It takes about twenty-five seconds of holding it left-handed with the gap nestled into the pad of your thumb. Doing this here will take you from 5 bars to a single bar, which is enough to drop the call. I really hope Apple does what Nintendid, and offer bumpers to any iPhone 4 user who requests them.
posted by hellphish at 10:29 AM on June 25, 2010


Are your fleshy, sweaty hands ruining your iPhone 4 experience? Replace your hands† with ROBOT HANDS™! With my patented ROBOT HANDS™ you will not only avoid those pesky dropped calls... you'll get better reception, too! GUARANTEED*!

* ROBOT HANDS™ are sold as is with no warranty or guarantee. May not improve reception. Removal of "human hands" can result in dizziness, headaches, loss of blood, phantom tingling, and/or death. Replacement human hands (tentative name: MEAT HANDS™) scheduled for release in Fall 2012.

† Right handed ROBOT HANDS™ are currently on backorder. Any orders for two (2) ROBOT HANDS™ will be fulfilled with two (2) left handed ROBOT HANDS™ or one (1) ROBOT HAND™ and one (1) ROBOT FOOT™. Japan customers may opt for ROBOT TENTACLES™ for a nominal surcharge.
posted by m@f at 10:30 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


You can like a company and like their products without having to defend them against every slight.

Hey, I really like Blizzard Entertainment. They make great games and I hear they're a good place to work. But this RealID shit they're rolling out, where you have to share your full name and anybody who you're friends with can see the full names of everyone you're friends with? It's bullshit and it's too far.

See that? There's a company that I like, and whose products that I like, and I acknowledged that they are fallible and that a particular complaint against them has validity.

You're in some kind of bizarre spin mode, like a PR flak in front of a press conference, which is bizarre because a) you're doing it for free and b) your position is out of step with Apple's. While Apple is acknowledging the problem and basically telling people to fuck off about it, you're trying to downplay it and pretend it doesn't exist.

Chill the hell out, man.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:31 AM on June 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Are your fleshy, sweaty hands ruining your iPhone 4 experience? Replace your hands† with ROBOT HANDS™! With my patented ROBOT HANDS™ you will not only avoid those pesky dropped calls... you'll get better reception, too! GUARANTEED*!

Shit yeah, gonna learn me the Holophoner.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:33 AM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


posted by mullingitover The point you're ignoring is that Apple says not to hold the phone in exactly the way they're demonstrating.

You don't understand. The iPhone works perfectly. No one's been able to replicate the problem, so it clearly does not exist. And even if it had a problem, the Droid and Google's phone are much, much worse. So we can't talk about the iPhone's imaginary flaws without talking about the competition's very real flaws.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:36 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that this is not a uniformly repeatable phenomenon with all users should tell you something.

what does the fact that apple tech support acknowledges the issue tell you?
posted by shmegegge at 10:37 AM on June 25, 2010


So if Steve Jobs held the phone this way at the keynote (as shown in pictures linked above), and the phone had reception problems at the keynote -- does that mean he was causing the reception problems with his hand, rather than it being an in-room networking issue as claimed?
posted by davejay at 10:38 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're cradling the phone in the fleshy part of your left hand, with no bumper or cover on it? Interesting.

People aren't expected to wrap their cars in protective rubber after they buy one, why should cell phone owners. The phone should be sturdy and well-built enough to work properly in normal use.

My Nexus One (which has its own reception issues) has no scratches or noticeable wear after months of use, totally naked (err, the phone is naked, I'm usually clothed).
posted by dirigibleman at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not just how you hold it in your hand! This will also happen if you fellate the phone too vigorously!
posted by orme at 10:40 AM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Steve Jobs does not conduct electricity.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone at the Leftorium needs to get on this issue.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:42 AM on June 25, 2010


Fascinating. The book bonaldi links to originally predates (1962) Lyn White's Medieval Technology and Social Change (1966), which approaches a similar question from a different angle. White (as I recall, it's been a long time) was basically arguing that there was a connection and sort of setting a standard for how to talk about it; it looks like Rogers was taking it as given. So maybe I'll go back and re-read White if I can find him...
posted by lodurr at 10:43 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that this is not a uniformly repeatable phenomenon with all users should tell you something. That said, I thought it was hilarious that there's a grid of pictures showing people doing everything except making a phone call, in a blogger post complaining about not being able to make phone calls.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on June 25


Of course it isn't uniformly repeatable. We are talking about the reception of radio waves. At the frequencies on which AT&T's networks operate, you get completely different signal characteristics--different channel conditions, SNR, doppler, reflections--by moving a mere 10 cm. Having one iphone user in NY compare his experience to a user in SF, or even a user on another floor of the same building in NY is nonsensical.

What you are ignoring is users do not have this wildly inconsistent experience with any other phone. While the physics of the radio signals is the same for all receiving devices, it is only one device where the user interaction with the device so dramatically undermines the performance.

You don't work for Apple, you didn't invent the phone, don't get defensive about it.

And if you want to talk about bizarre signal behavior, I can dramatically improve the OTA reception on my HDTV for some channels simply by walking to a different part of the room. I can improve reception if I touch the antenna. Or if I vacuum the carpet. The fact that radio reception present a bizarre engineering problem is well-known, and is what most of the engineering that goes into designing the cell network deals with. What is truly bizarre is that only the iphone has these bizarre if-I-touch-the-phone-here problems.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:44 AM on June 25, 2010


Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes.
posted by hellojed at 10:48 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"book bonaldi links to" >> "book pastabagel links to"

sorry....
posted by lodurr at 10:50 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can reproduce the problem 100% of the time. I don't know why it takes a few seconds to happen, because like Ogre says above, short circuits don't happen gradually. Maybe it has something to do with the gain adjustment,

If the signal meter on the phone showed the actual signal level at all times it would constantly be fluctuating wildly from zero bars to five bars. Which would be pretty annoying and be difficult to tell if you had a good connection or not. So they average it out over some period of time. And if the phone loses connection with the tower it won't immediately show no connection, because it could be a momentary issue.
posted by 6550 at 10:51 AM on June 25, 2010


Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes.

Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors.
posted by lodurr at 10:52 AM on June 25, 2010


I forgot to mention, but Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers are not silicone. Stop saying silicone. They are hard plastic, with a thin rubber "o-ring" structure on the front and back, which when setting the phone down raises the glass about a millimeter away from the resting surface.
posted by hellphish at 10:53 AM on June 25, 2010


iPhone baby buggy bumpers.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2010


what does the fact that apple tech support acknowledges the issue tell you?

It tells me that they should offer some kind of free sleeve or insulation product to address this for people this actually affects, people who actually own the phone and have experienced this issue, as those appear to be workable fixes. If people don't want the free fix, offer them a full refund. I'd imagine most people put something around their phones to protect them, but if not, then give them a refund and part ways. If anything, localizing this to specific phones and coverage areas would help Apple collect useful data to isolate the cause or causes.

Design complexity is a result of a lot of things: space constraints, if not FCC guidelines that direct antenna placement. It is probably not yet 100% clear exactly why this affects some people but not others, who are holding the phone in the same way.

As for the rest of it, the bloggers and Metafilter users writing about their dislike of Apple in a sensationalist, tabloid-like manner, with the implication that every single fourth-generation iPhone user will have a dead phone, no matter what OMG, is kind of dishonest and certainly doesn't help people who are affected, in any case.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


If the signal meter on the phone showed the actual signal level at all times it would constantly be fluctuating wildly from zero bars to five bars. Which would be pretty annoying and be difficult to tell if you had a good connection or not. So they average it out over some period of time. And if the phone loses connection with the tower it won't immediately show no connection, because it could be a momentary issue.

I know this, and I agree with you. It is obvious that the short would be happening instantly, but I'm not sure exactly what that short is doing. Could it be that it causes interference and the phone keeps gradually adjusting the gain up and up until it hits the max and can no longer maintain connection? I'm searching for reasons why the call quality takes about 20 seconds to go from crystal clear to dropped, instead of happening instantly.
posted by hellphish at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2010


Apparently the yellow spots are caused by Organofunctional Silane Z-6011, or as I like to call it "the tears of the workers", and evaporate over time.
posted by Artw at 10:56 AM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


So if Steve Jobs held the phone this way at the keynote (as shown in pictures linked above), and the phone had reception problems at the keynote -- does that mean he was causing the reception problems with his hand, rather than it being an in-room networking issue as claimed?

This issue does not appear to affect wifi reception, so... No. It does not.

posted by sparkletone at 10:57 AM on June 25, 2010


Another datapoint that I can't reproduce this. And that holding my phone in such a way during a phone call feels really unnatural.

I'm an early adopter because my 3-year-old phone is on its deathbed and I don't want to buy a 3g. Plus I'm dumb.
posted by naju at 10:58 AM on June 25, 2010


posted by lodurr Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors.

Steve Jobs announces a steampunk mode for the iPhone. GiveWell releases an app.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:58 AM on June 25, 2010


mattdidthat: I got nothin'.
posted by lodurr at 11:01 AM on June 25, 2010


As for the rest of it, the bloggers and Metafilter users writing about their dislike of Apple in a sensationalist, tabloid-like manner, with the implication that every single fourth-generation iPhone user will have a dead phone, no matter what OMG, is kind of dishonest and certainly doesn't help people who are affected, in any case.

Seriously ? Are you reading the same thread as I am?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for the rest of it, the bloggers and Metafilter users writing about their dislike of Apple in a sensationalist, tabloid-like manner, with the implication that every single fourth-generation iPhone user will have a dead phone, no matter what OMG, is kind of dishonest and certainly doesn't help people who are affected, in any case.

If that were what were happening, I'd agree with you.
posted by lodurr at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2010


Steve Jobs announces a steampunk mode for the iPhone. GiveWell releases an app.

Lady Gaga's cat steps on her iPhone, scratching the screen. Gaga declaws the rest of her cats.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:03 AM on June 25, 2010


Seriously ? Are you reading the same thread as I am

Yes, I am reading the same thread you're reading (example).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2010


Holding your 4G - you're doing it wrong.
posted by empatterson at 11:04 AM on June 25, 2010


> What you are ignoring is users do not have this wildly inconsistent experience with any other phone.

Signal fluctuation on the Nokia 6230

... someone released a video on youtube that showed how the [Nexus One] loses 3G connection and flips to EDGE whenever the back of the phone is covered. I can consistently replicate this test myself...

Both links courtesy this post.
posted by ardgedee at 11:11 AM on June 25, 2010


BP, I think you're over reacting to a minority of comments in this thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:13 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm searching for reasons why the call quality takes about 20 seconds to go from crystal clear to dropped, instead of happening instantly.

That's interesting. Maybe it is a gain adjustment thing. I don't have an iPhone so I had the impression that a call would drop near instantly.
posted by 6550 at 11:13 AM on June 25, 2010


Oh, and can we please stop linking to that FCC's fault piece. I was too polite above but I can wave my RF engineer flag, too. That guy is flat wrong about the cause of the iPhone 4 dropped signals. If he was right the problem wouldn't be fixed by bumpers, tape, or rubber bands. If he was right Steve Jobs wouldn't have said not to put your hand over that junction and Apple PR wouldn't have blamed it on a coating problem (the problem being they never caught the issue during testing because all the field iPhone 4s were in 3G cases).
posted by 6550 at 11:18 AM on June 25, 2010


rokusan wrote: "(Do people really use iPhones without any kind of case? Such people are too brave or too rich, I think.)"

I have never used a case on any phone I've owned except when using one to attach it to my bike. I just, you know, don't drop them. Ironically, the only one I've put a severe scratch into from dropping was in a case attached to my bike and running over some pretty big bumps at 20mph knocked it out of the case.

supercres wrote: "There are certain hand positions that affect every phone negatively."

Sure. My E71 has a bottom mounted antenna and if I hold it in such a way as to cover the whole thing it will reduce the signal somewhat, but since it's not bonded to the metallic case it doesn't make the signal go to practically zero. That phone is an RF beast anyway. It'll happily hold a call at one bar. (which corresponds to less than about -98dBm on that particular phone, as I recall)

As far as people holding it that area, uh, why wouldn't they? A lot of people have trained themselves over the years to hold phones at the bottom like that so as not to block the antenna, which is at the top, behind the earpiece on most phones. People get confused by bottom mounted antennas, even when the manual points out where the antenna is.
posted by wierdo at 11:21 AM on June 25, 2010


Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes.

Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors.


Vaccinating them gives them autism. Circumcision is the only cure.
posted by The Bellman at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


And on not-preview, the 6230 is about 6 years old, a quarter the size of the iPhone, and so small it's hard not to put your finger over the antenna without training yourself. (you have to hold it at the bottom, exactly where you shouldn't hold an iPhone 4)

Even when you do cover its antenna it doesn't drop calls except in an area with extremely bad signal. (I used one for a couple of years before I got my first Symbian phone, it held calls where Cingular said they had a dead spot, even when I wasn't paying attention..that phone just wouldn't drop calls)
posted by wierdo at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010


Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes.

Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors.

Vaccinating them gives them autism. Circumcision is the only cure.


Harvested Israeli cat claws are the only cure... or is it Palestinian cat claws? Let me look this up on my iPhone 4 and ERROR: DIVIDE BY ZERO.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Data Point: I can reproduce the problem 100% of the time at home (where my 3G is usually a little sketchy) and never, no matter how hard I try, at work (where I guess it's better). I have no idea what this indicates, but it's true. It could as easily have to do with the fact that work is over air-conditioned, perhaps making my hand less conductive as with signal strength. It could also mean that work is monitored by aliens, that fish live in trees or that the Mighty Radio God Hates Lefties (I'm right handed, but I voted for Obama). I really have no clue and don't pretend to, but that's what I have observed.

I'm a total Apple fanboi, by the way, and buy everything Jobs foists on me. The new phone is a replacement for my 3GS which my wife now has. I don't even use my iPhone as a phone (I carry a blackberry on Verizon for that) because until recently AT&T's coverage in NYC was so bad I couldn't reliable count on my iPhone as anything other than a gaming device and Kindle replacement. Since I don't care about 3G reception that much, I don't care about this problem that much, but it's absolutely real and it's going to be hard to track and fix. I don't use cases -- never have. One reason I buy Apple products (at a premium) is because I like their industrial design. Having paid that premium I have no desire to hide it in an ugly piece of plastic -- though maybe I have to.
posted by The Bellman at 11:32 AM on June 25, 2010


Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes.

Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors.

Vaccinating them gives them autism. Circumcision is the only cure.

Harvested Israeli cat claws are the only cure... or is it Palestinian cat claws? Let me look this up on my iPhone 4 and ERROR: DIVIDE BY ZERO.


It's actually a Monty Hall problem.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I can easily reproduce the issue at will and just tested a call to my desk phone with it. While on the call (with music playing to test call quality) I placed the phone in my hand with the pad of my left thumb snug against the lower left side and observed the bars go to zero. However, the call didn't drop even after five minutes and there was no decrease in call quality.

This simply isn't an issue unless it actually affects calls, of course. Hindrance of data throughput, while annoying, is far less disruptive to the user experience than a dropped call and most phones will exhibit this behavior when held a certain way. The scuttlebutt is more along the lines of "OMG no bars if I touch in this spot!" rather than "this phone is dropping calls all over the place and worse than the 3GS". The reality, according to most reviews, is exactly the opposite.

I imagine the real contention here isn't that signal strength is affected by touching the phone in any specific way, as this applies to all cell phones, but that there is an apparent loss of quality when the phone is held naturally. Have people had enough time to test call reliability in their places of work, homes, and cars? I doubt it. Will Apple make this right if there really is an inherent design flaw that actually affects calls? There is absolutely no doubt.

Either way, it's a wonderful device, and the case I'll eventually put on it will solve the issue. It's just not an issue for me.
posted by Awakened at 11:35 AM on June 25, 2010


> Kevin Smith is in line for the iPhone 4, bumps into Sarah Palin and loses signal, tweets about it. Metafilter explodes. Cory Doctorow re-posts to Boing-Boing. Typhus breaks out among the survivors. Vaccinating them gives them autism. Circumcision is the only cure. Harvested Israeli cat claws are the only cure... or is it Palestinian cat claws? Let me look this up on my iPhone 4 and ERROR: DIVIDE BY ZERO. It's actually a Monty Hall problem.

Emergency services try to fly out a cure, but the airplane is unable to take off from the conveyor belt on the runway.
posted by ardgedee at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, on the "don't hold it like that" point: If you are making one of the much-ballyhooed "FaceTime" video calls, I cannot imagine any other way to hold it (as a rightie). You hold the phone in your left hand with the bottom left corner cradled in your left palm and the phone angled to aim the camera at you, keeping you right hand free to press buttons and such.

Admittedly if you're doing that you are on a WiFi network for now, so it's not an issue, but I thought eventually the feature was going to become available on 3G. Any kind of video call (Skype, if it ever works, etc.) using the front-facing camera would require that grip, no?
posted by The Bellman at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2010


Haters gonna hate.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:41 AM on June 25, 2010


I'm amused by the Gizmodo intern who tried to duplicate the signal-dropping problem... while walking through Times Square of all places. He drops the phone and the front screen shatters. Gizmodo's conclusion? It's Apple's fault for not making the screens out of transparent adamantium or something.

They've really been milking this for all it's worth, ever since they got their hands on a prototype. Pity, they used to be one of the better of the Gawker blogs.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:51 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


griphus: "Okay, can someone explain to me the desire to be an early-adopter of technology?"

My base assumption is that the long line during a work day is chiefly eBay re-salesmen. I've always wondered why hot item vendors didn't turn to ebay or some other auction company for launch days and cut out the middlemen and lines. I suppose there's not as much photo ops for TV journalists though.
posted by pwnguin at 11:52 AM on June 25, 2010


Fellaters gonna fellate?
posted by Big_B at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sic! Sic! Get that strawman!
posted by seventyfour at 12:05 PM on June 25, 2010


Haters gonna debate!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:06 PM on June 25, 2010


This new iPhone is worse than Hitler!
posted by Mister_A at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2010


This new iPhone is worse than Hitler!

But better than the old one. You know what that means, right?

(Imhotep is invisible.)
posted by griphus at 12:11 PM on June 25, 2010


Gizmodo's conclusion? It's Apple's fault for not making the screens out of transparent adamantium or something.

Their breathless "ZOMG this guy's phone only fell from THREE INCHES!" updates have become a bit much, but they do have a point. I was hoping for a bit more durability, I'm mostly careful with my phone but I did have an unfortunate iBowl accident back when I got my 3G. That sucker went from my wall to my ceiling and then straight to the floor and landed on the corner of the phone. It didn't break and still works perfectly. That's certainly not my benchmark for minimum durability, that was really stupid on my part and if my phone had broken I'd have no one to blame but myself, but phones do fall/get dropped and even most of the nice ones don't shatter.

I decided to put my mind at ease and get a SquareTrade warranty this morning. If you can find the right promo codes, it's like $80 for 2 years and it covers pretty much everything besides loss or theft.
posted by rollbiz at 12:20 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why buy the latest designer clothes, when you can wait for them to go on sale later in their lifespan?

To be fashionable? Trendy? That's a dumbass reason to buy a phone.
posted by pracowity at 12:31 PM on June 25, 2010


This new iPhone is worse than Hitler!

He did get a pretty good reception in certain regions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ha, nice headline on cnn.com: Apple to iPhone critics: Your fault
posted by smackfu at 12:54 PM on June 25, 2010


My brother just texted me that he was tooling around with his friend's new iPhone 4, and it's a complete "piece of junk".

I'll be passing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:56 PM on June 25, 2010


And it doesn't even play OGG.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:12 PM on June 25, 2010


I remember a time when holding onto the antenna actually improved reception.
posted by Tube at 1:23 PM on June 25, 2010


This is getting silly.
posted by Hicksu at 1:26 PM on June 25, 2010


Steve Jobs Shows Cool Antenna Trick to Russian President
posted by homunculus at 1:28 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


My brother just texted me that he was tooling around with his friend's new iPhone 4, and it's a complete "piece of junk".

I'll be passing.


Yeah, it really sounds like you were on the fence there.
posted by Fleebnork at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look there's not really any doubt that gizmodo is crap, right?

I mean, regardless of what you think of Apple, Gizmodo is like PC World meets Hustler meets Cosmo. Shouldn't they be shutting off TVs at a convention somewhere?
posted by Wood at 1:31 PM on June 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Apple's New Phone Has 4G Reception: Going, Going, Going, Gone
posted by mattdidthat at 1:31 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, the lines are weirding me out now, I went by the Apple Store here at 9 am this morning (I was in the neighborhood and wanted to take a look, didn't buy) and there was no line and they weren't sold out or anything. Day 2, right? That's right, walk in and buy your phone like a normal person if that's what you want.

I don't know what that means about sales or manufactoring, but seriously people, I'm sort of a fan (and a boy) but I don't do lines.
posted by Wood at 1:33 PM on June 25, 2010


Well I can't replicate the problem. No problems at all with mine. It really is a lovely phone. My 3G was feeling a little slow and in comparison this just flies. I don't have a case yet since the official Apple bumpers are £25. I will wait for a cheaper silicone case.
posted by salmacis at 1:42 PM on June 25, 2010


Why buy the latest designer clothes, when you can wait for them to go on sale later in their lifespan?

For the same reason we're all posting conjectures about the technical performance of a device released yesterday, when the magnitude of the engineering problems will be crystal clear in a few weeks.
posted by condour75 at 1:49 PM on June 25, 2010


Yeah, it really sounds like you were on the fence there.

Actually, I love my 3GS, but it sounds like the iPhone 4 is a step in the wrong direction.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:57 PM on June 25, 2010


Calling it a "piece of junk" didn't sound to me like a particularly thorough, accurate or technical review, especially in text message form, so pardon my snark.
posted by Fleebnork at 2:04 PM on June 25, 2010


Reported problems with the IPhone 4:

From:
http://gizmodo.com/5572947/if-you-have-these-iphone-4-problems-you-should-exchange-your-phone

• No SIM Card Installed: This is when you get a phone that has a SIM card inside, but get periodic "No SIM Card Installed" errors. Reader John says that he ejected his and saw a "pretty good scratch on the card."

• Proximity Sensor doesn't detect your face: We've actually confirmed this ourselves on one or two of our own phones, accidentally dialing or hitting the mute button when in a call. We're not sure what the cause is, if the fact that they had to move the sensor from the original location to somewhere else to make room for the front camera, but it is acting up. [Everything iCafe]

• Faulty microphones/voice cancellation: Some people can't be heard unless they switch to speakerphone or an external microphone

• Camera not starting: Opening the Camera app shows a frozen lens, as if it doesn't open after it launches. Thread 1, Thread 2 and Macrumors

• Volume buttons mixed up: Some users have the + where the - should be.

• Yellow screen and white dots: If your screen shows bands or spots of yellow, or various white dots.
posted by seventyfour at 2:17 PM on June 25, 2010


Actually, I love my 3GS, but it sounds like the iPhone 4 is a step in the wrong direction.

In what possible ways? I passed on the 3GS because I was happy with my 3G. But the iPhone 4 just completely blows away the 3GS in every way I can tell.

With every review, every tech site, claiming it's a fantastic phone, it would be great to know why you think it's a step in the wrong direction, other than a text from your brother.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:21 PM on June 25, 2010


Clearly the overseers are failing to administer sufficient beatings in the sweetshops.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the iPhone 4 just completely blows away the 3GS in every way I can tell.

I have the same operating system you do. So basically, you have a front-facing camera, which most people don't want.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:24 PM on June 25, 2010


And destructable glass!
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have the same operating system you do.

No, I still have my 3G. I'll let them get the kinks out before I upgrade.

So basically, you have a front-facing camera, which most people don't want.

Most people don't want it? Did you take a survey? Where do you get 'most'?

I much prefer the design of the new iPhone, I like that the camera sounds fantastic and I'll no longer have to bring a point and shoot. I like that the display is far better than my 3G. And yes, love the front camera.

So now I know front camera = wrong direction / piece of junk. Interesting.

(You might want to keep that old 3GS since I'm pretty sure most phones will start coming out with front cameras.)
posted by Dennis Murphy at 2:31 PM on June 25, 2010


I have the same operating system you do. So basically, you have a front-facing camera, which most people don't want.

Well it also has a much better display, faster processor, more RAM, improved reception (if you don't have the antenna issue, which I don't), more battery life, and a gorgeous form factor.
posted by gyc at 2:31 PM on June 25, 2010


you have a front-facing camera, which most people don't want.

ok, I think the relentless defence of the iphone 4 is silly, but please to be explaining. you mean most people actively don't want it or most people don't care if they have it or what?

I mean, if the front facing camera is the only significant improvement that might matter to you (as opposed to the 720p video recording, using imovie to edit with or the improved performance and hardware) and you just don't like it, then that's cool. I'd just like some clarification.
posted by shmegegge at 2:42 PM on June 25, 2010


defense. defense.
posted by shmegegge at 2:42 PM on June 25, 2010


Clearly the overseers are failing to administer sufficient beatings in the sweetshops.

The diabetings will continue until morale improves!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clearly the overseers are failing to administer sufficient beatings in the sweetshops.

Well, after the spate of suicides of Foxconn employees at least the workers have recently received a pay raise "...to safeguard the dignity of workers, accelerate economic transformation…and to rally and sustain the best of [their] workforce."

Throwing money at a problem always solves it. AMIRITE?
posted by ericb at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2010


Throwing money at a problem always solves it. AMIRITE?

When the problem is labour-related yes, often, YOUARERIGHT.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:00 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exactly. Also, I haven't seen any iPhone 4 owners with boners yet, so I really don't buy it. Sure it's just anecdata, but until somebody sends me pictures, I'm not going to believe it.

Meet me at Chatroulette in 2 hours. I'll be the guy with my pants down.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:11 PM on June 25, 2010


I can replicate the loss-of-signal problem in my apartment and my office. If I walk outside of either building (my apartment or my office) the problem goes away, presumably because the signal strength is not being attenuated by the building before it gets to my hand.

I was on a call last night and just touching my pinky finger over the gap on the lower left corner of the phone while holding it up to my face caused the call audio to instantly become garbled. Lifting my pinky, it was instantly back to normal.

I ran several speed tests over 3G today at the office. Sitting on the desk, the phone was getting anywhere from 1 to 3 Mbps download speeds. Picking up the phone (only moving it maybe an inch off the table so I could get my hand around it) the speeds dropped to essentially zero. A few times, the speed test never even started because it couldn't complete the ping/latency test. This was totally reproducible every time I tried it.

I have a feeling the reason some people aren't experiencing this is because they are in areas with stronger/better 3G coverage to begin with. (I am in suburban Boston.)

I plan to try putting electrical tape over the bottom corner of the phone and seeing if that helps. If it does, maybe I'll try clear nail polish. A case is not really an option for me since I put my phone in the dock quite a bit, and taking it in and out of the case to do that is a pain.
posted by Nothlit at 3:12 PM on June 25, 2010


When the problem is labour-related yes, often, YOUARERIGHT.

Maybe looking at "working conditions" is a better way to proceed.

Why are people killing themselves often by jumping from the roofs?* Because they're not getting paid enough? Or, because there might be a fundamental (systemic?) HR issue at play?

* -- "So far, at least 16 people have jumped from high buildings at the factory so far this year, with 12 deaths. A further 20 people were stopped by the company before they could attempt to kill themselves."
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


How many American factory workers kill themselves in a year by jumping off of their companies' factory and dormitory roofs?
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on June 25, 2010


I've never owned a phone that would lose all connection to the network if you touched a certain corner of it before.

I have. I've also owned a phone that stopped working if you used it with the supplied case, and a phone that buzzed and echoed if you made or received a call to/from the same model.

*strokes Nokia 6770 Classic - you'd never hurt me, would you baby?*
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:31 PM on June 25, 2010


Wait, wait, wait. Please back away from the ledge. Here's 900 Chinese Yuan Renminbi (CNY) more a month. Please don't jump. Come on. It's a fair deal. Please, please, please.
posted by ericb at 3:36 PM on June 25, 2010


Are Foxconn Suicides Misrepresented By Media? Employees Are Far Less Likely To Committ Suicide

I checked his figures. World Health Organization suicide figures for China (1999) are 13 males and 14.8 females per 100,000 people.

Elderly (65+ years) suicide rates can be as much as 50% higher than youth (18 to 24 years), which means Foxconn’s suicide rate, with its younger workforce, should be significantly below the national average.

Let’s estimate an average of 10 suicides per 100,000 at Foxconn. Just the Shenzhen Foxconn plant alone, with its 330,000 employees, would be expected to have about 33 suicides this year, or 14 so far.

Foxconn has had just 10 suicides this year, and that’s across its entire workforce.


NIMH - Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention

Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2006, it was the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 33,300 deaths.1 The overall rate was 10.9 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.1
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:42 PM on June 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


I love you, Blazecock Pileon.
posted by seventyfour at 3:52 PM on June 25, 2010


But.... but... APPLE! CHINA!
posted by entropicamericana at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2010


My original point remains: are people commiting suicide because of pay issues or working conditions?
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2010


How many American factory workers kill themselves in a year by jumping off of their companies' factory and dormitory roofs?

If you're interested, via the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of the US workplace suicides are management, not labor:

An Analysis of Workplace Suicides, 1992-2001, Bureau of Labor Statistics

The CFOI data also indicate that the risk of on-the-job suicide was highest for men, older workers, the self-employed, and agricultural workers. In addition, among the individual occupations, managers and administrators, not elsewhere classified,3 incurred the highest number of workplace suicides...

Suicide in general versus suicide at work

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),5 29,350 Americans committed suicide in 2000, making it the 11th leading cause of death that year (homicide was 14th).6 Four times as many men committed suicide in 2000 than did women, and nearly 84 percent of all suicide victims were non-Hispanic whites.

Trends for workplace suicides are similar to those for the general population.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:05 PM on June 25, 2010


My original point remains: are people commiting suicide because of pay issues or working conditions?

I don't know if this is answerable from statistics from the US and Chinese governments.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:07 PM on June 25, 2010


But if I had to guess, people will put up with a lot if they are well compensated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:08 PM on June 25, 2010


I have a feeling the reason some people aren't experiencing this is because they are in areas with stronger/better 3G coverage to begin with. (I am in suburban Boston.)

I kind of doubt this is true. I live in the area and I know several Apple engineers (none of whom work on iPhone) who have long-standing, true jokes about how their iPhones drop calls on the commute between SF and Cupertino, whether they take 280 or 101. I also know coverage is spotty in Mountain View and Sunnyvale from personal experience.

I don't have an alternate theory though. I'm a happy and old-school Apple user (Lemonade Stand ftw!) but I am very skeptical of their QA process and won't buy rev. 1 products any more or install SW immediately post-release (except in emergencies). For example, a couple of years ago they released an OS revision that completely borked boot time. Increased it astronomically. For a completely trivial reason debug-wise. People were like .. dude, after all these years do you guys not have an automated QA process for an OS release that includes reboot testing??
posted by cucumber at 4:31 PM on June 25, 2010


Hard to say if this is true until the update is released, but here's some up-to-date reportage:

Death Grip hysteria may end Monday with iOS 4.01

Readers report that Apple's tech support forums originally confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday), before the comments were subsequently taken down along with all the other related discussion about the matter.

The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting "no service" rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

Additional readers have shared other related experiences that also corroborate the idea that the issue is related to iOS 4's software control of the baseband, including the fact that the issue seems easily reproducible when connecting to a WWAN 3G network but does not appear when connecting to a Microcell 3G. If the problem were simply hardware related issues of the antenna design, it should only affect iPhone 4 units with that new design and should occur at all times, regardless of the tower type. That is not being observed.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:32 PM on June 25, 2010


The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband.

Isn't baseband the province of that Apple guy who lost his prototype iPhone in that bar? How terrible/hilarious would it be if it were his code causing this issue too.
posted by cucumber at 4:38 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, at this point I will readily volunteer to take one for the MeFi community.

You can send me all the technology products you are unhappy with.

(MeMail me for shipping details.)
posted by Samizdata at 5:05 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


And Blazecock's defending sweatshops now.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:14 PM on June 25, 2010


Sweetshops.

Jobs has been very clear on this, there are no Apple sweatshops.
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on June 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't baseband the province of that Apple guy who lost his prototype iPhone in that bar? How terrible/hilarious would it be if it were his code causing this issue too.

Well you see, the [u]dog ate his homework[/u] stole his phone and sold it to Gizmodo so he wasn't able to fully test out his code.
posted by gyc at 5:25 PM on June 25, 2010


it results in the device reporting "no service" rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

This isn't a fix then. What it means is the phone will stay at full strength, it'll just switch to 2G more seamlessly. (All the reports are that you get dropped down to 2G coverage eventually when holding it in the left hand. This is why calls don't get dropped but data craps out)
posted by bonaldi at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2010


Did Disguising the iPhone 4 Mask a Temperamental Antenna?
posted by homunculus at 6:24 PM on June 25, 2010


And Blazecock's defending sweatshops now.

I think the statistics suggested that the media either does not understand basic math, or that they were doing the same thing here that they do with celebrities and politicians: report on a subject they don't fully understand or can recast in a sensationalized way, in order to "help" the reader establish guilt, or guilt by association. This is the media's usual "tear-'em-down-and-build-them-back-up" cycle that ensures readership and profits; Apple just happened to be the latest target, maybe because they sell shiny sexiness and they're fun to gossip about.

As I have said previously, if all of it was really about caring about worker's rights, it wouldn't really matter so much that Apple is one of Foxconn's customers, as it makes many electronic components for a number of consumer gadget companies. Foxconn even manufactures some motherboards and components that the anti-Apple crowd have used to brag about building their own computers. How tragically ironic is that.

I had a longer comment in mind about how the press did not — as expected — use the Foxconn story to report on how working Americans are treated here at home, with jobs moving to Mexico or overseas where there is no regulatory oversight, with no pollution controls in Mexico that turn border towns like Brownsville, Texas into a birth defect cluster, not to mention salting the earth across the border. There are real consequences to abusing workers wherever it happens, but that point of view didn't really get much airtime, unsurprisingly. So it goes.

There was no talk, even, of how all manner of consumer electronic gadgets that privileged folks like you and I use are made by all kinds of sweatshops, such as one that makes the touchscreens that go into HTC, Android and other cell phones.

If the point is to address sweatshop conditions, I don't think this almost psychotic focus on Apple makes as much sense as casting a wider net. Still, this lowest-common-denominator quality reporting actually makes perfect sense with the kind of media that we have and the kind of readership they are selling ads to.

Maybe focusing on one company in a fact- and logic-free way really does help protect people's diminishing rights. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:25 PM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


'cock, the media reports every day on things they don't understand, and I'm not sure what to do about it. For instance, a long long time ago outside of Philadelphia I was a "hacker/phreaker". A friend of mine was arrested. Articles were written about all sorts of stuff. Every single one of those articles betrayed a fundamental failure to understand the most basic norms & truths about the culture portrayed. That was a long time ago and I don't mean my criticism in a "we were morally right and they are wrong!" sense, I mean it in a "holy crap, you have simply no idea what (for example) BBS culture of the area/era was about", irrespective of the relative fairness of this arrest and later fallout, which is all ancient history. I mean, it was just shocking to me how totally ignorant people could write well-respected pieces of "journalism" about things they in no way, even in the most basic sense, understood.

That has stuck with me forever. I suppose I should say it's not the reporters' faults because they are on deadline. But it's someone's fault. See, e.g., Sorkin at the NYtimes writing about business ... something he knows nothing about except at the most stupid level.

I'm not sure how to fix it, but it's a systemic problem.
posted by cucumber at 6:52 PM on June 25, 2010


Their breathless "ZOMG this guy's phone only fell from THREE INCHES!" updates have become a bit much, but they do have a point. I was hoping for a bit more durability...

So I used to have this phone from T-Mobile, a gold brice phone, some Nokia product. I had it for years, and it looked like crap, but it worked, and kept on working. One day I pulled it out at a lunch with other folks, and someone commented about how crappy it was. I responded that I don't have much need for gadgets, I just need something that "can be thrown against a brick wall and keep on working."

One of the people at the table gestured to the brick wall behind him, and without a moment's hesitation I shrugged and threw it at the wall. It bounced off with a horrible sound, hit the ground, and was recovered. I proceeded to make a call with it, and kept it for another six months (when it started to get erratic shutoffs -- and to be fair, I'd dropped it quite a few more times in the interim.)

Now I have another gold brick phone, this one a Samsung. I've had it for years, and it looks like crap, and the volume switch broke off one of the many times I've dropped it, but it keeps right on working, day after day, and the big screen on it (much larger than the previous brick) doesn't have so much as a scratch on it (it has no case, and I carry it in my pocket with my keys.

Meanwhile, I have an iPod Video that I got as a gift, and I've kept it in a little satin bag inside my glove box, plugged into an iPod cable, since I got it. It took me three days to start using the bag, after it got scratched up like crazy sharing the glove box with *paper*, and despite being plugged into the same iPod connection for years with lots of slack on the cable, the connection jack no longer passes audio through, and so I can't use it in my car any more.

tl;dr -- cell phones are held to a higher durability standard than Apple's typical product line, and while other manufacturers seem to be doing a good job of living up to that standard, Apple's forays into the cell phone market have not.
posted by davejay at 9:27 PM on June 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Er, a gold BRICK phone.
posted by davejay at 9:27 PM on June 25, 2010


davejay wrote: "Er, a gold BRICK phone."

Ah, I believe that would have been the 6590 (or 6590i). Great little phone. I had the Cingular/AT&T version of it. It was a tank, until the screws came loose. Great reception for one of the first phones with a fully integrated antenna, too.

While I've never intentionally thrown my phone at a wall, out of all of my Nokias I have never been concerned about dropping them causing them to stop working. The only reason I have been careful with them is because I don't like the look of phone gouged to crap by concrete.

The one I mentioned earlier (an E62, vaguely blackberryish) fell out at 20 mph, bounced off my front tire and bounced end over end down the asphalt path four or five times (about 50 feet) then slid for another 50 feet or so before coming to a rest. It never even crossed my mind that it would be broken. Ugly gouges is all I was thinking of.

I don't know if their more modern touchscreen phones run into the same screen breakage issues others do. It seems like it would be hard to make one that wouldn't break with that vast expanse of glass, but I have dropped my N900 a few times without ill effects. Thankfully never on concrete or asphalt, just my wood floor, so it has no scratches.

My only point being to agree that durable cell phones are awesome.
posted by wierdo at 10:01 PM on June 25, 2010


FWIW, my T-Mobile G1 survived a drop from about 6 feet onto concrete with no discernible damage (I had bought it used with pockmarks on the casing, but nothing worse). What it didn't survive was me trying to replace the scratched screen (scratched by keys and coins -- I've since learned my lesson there).
posted by dirigibleman at 12:31 AM on June 26, 2010


I had a longer comment in mind about how the press did not — as expected — use the Foxconn story to report on how working Americans are treated here at home, with jobs moving to Mexico or overseas where there is no regulatory oversight, with no pollution controls in Mexico that turn border towns like Brownsville, Texas into a birth defect cluster, not to mention salting the earth across the border.

Well post that then, it's a lot more interesting than your half-assed defenses of Apple.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:45 AM on June 26, 2010


Well post that then, it's a lot more interesting than your half-assed defenses of Apple.

I'm not defending Apple, just adding some interesting facts to what has largely been a fact-free and hyperbolic OMGAPPLSUXAMIRITE attitude here. Sorry that bothers you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2010


I've dropped my iPhone 3G a handful of times on tile, asphalt, and concrete and it works fine. It has some cracks on the back, but from what I understand, that may happen even if you don't drop it. And Apple happily replaces your phone for that even out of warranty, so don't start, haters.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:19 AM on June 26, 2010


I'm not an Apple fan. Nor am I a fan of technology companies in general.

I really like the iphone, though. It's a very useful tool for my work.

The new phone has much better sound quality, calls sound a lot better
The screen looks really good
It's quite fast
Safari sucks less than it did - a ringing endorsement I know
I'll take it upon myself to eliminate any mediocre design issues by putting the thing in a case
Camera is a definite upgrade

I'm an early adopter because I wanted to replace my 3G, which is having issues with the button and I needed an itouch-clone for use in my house so the timing was right.

I think Steve Jobs is a complete douche and an arrogant ass.

I think a lot of people forget that Apple isn't in this for the hipster cachet. They're in business to make money and getting people to buy into fanaticism makes more money for Apple. Your love for Apple is purely a marketing initiative at work.

No other computer or operating system company is any better. They're all having lunch and mocking you anyway.
posted by disclaimer at 11:14 AM on June 26, 2010


BP: "I'm not defending Apple"

My first reaction was 'hahaha what,' which was also my second reaction. However, my third reaction is that you must of course be a taoist monk.
posted by mullingitover at 2:53 PM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


My first reaction was 'hahaha what,' which was also my second reaction. However, my third reaction is that you must of course be a taoist monk.

Apple is not Foxconn. Foxconn is not Apple. I'm not defending either of them, truly. It's pretty sad that Metafilter has become a logic-free zone to extent that I need to point out these obvious facts, but so it goes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 PM on June 26, 2010


A spoof Tweet about recalling the new iPhone, posted by "ceoSteveJobs", 11 hours ago. Quoted as fact by the Daily Mail this morning, God love 'em.
posted by ceiriog at 3:37 AM on June 27, 2010


Apple is not Foxconn. Foxconn is not Apple.

But Apple pays Foxconn, and demonstrably exercises a great deal of effective albeit indirect control over them. (Viz, security measures.) Because this relationship exists, Apple does have at least some culpability in bad shit that happens because of Foxconn's efforts to keep Apple as a customer.

It's a bit like shopping (or not shopping) at a grocery where they mistreat the employees. Or like striking a distribution contract with a company that engages in brutal practices w.r.t. their warehouse employees. They have the option not to strike that deal, and they (Apple) have the option not to deal with Foxconn in ways that encoursge the kind of abuse Foxconn engages in.

Considering the profits Apple is bringing in, I see no reason to be sympathetic to market-capitalist counter arguments on this.

I'm not defending either of them, truly.

You are defending Apple, truly. It's pretty sad that you can't see that about what you're doing.
posted by lodurr at 7:39 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are defending Apple, truly.

It's pretty sad that you're so stuck with that idea that you can't see that you're wrong.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 AM on June 27, 2010


The trick to damaging iPhones by dropping them seems to be more about the angle than the force with which they hit the ground - I've dropped my G3 a bunch of times (because A. I am a klutz and B. that is just a thing that happens with phones) but the time I cracked the LCD was a relatively short drop where it landed on the corner.

In fairness to Apple thye were very good about replacing the LCD, despite the fact that the damage was quite clearly my own fault for dropping the thing.

Still, I do kind of pine for the days of more robust cellphones that had decent battery lifes and actually worked well as phones. All the stuff the iPhone is bad at. Possibly I need a brick style phone for that sortr of thing and a seperate mini-tablet like device for all the stuff iPhones are good at.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on June 27, 2010


ok, I think the relentless defence of the iphone 4 is silly

The defense of apple is rock solid compared to roomthreeseventeen's comments. She thinks apple is headed in the wrong direction, only citing the front facing camera as an example. She laments that her brother called an almost universally acclaimed phone a 'piece of junk' without any reasons given.

Either roomthreeseventeen is having a laugh or completely clueless.

cell phones are held to a higher durability standard than Apple's typical product line, and while other manufacturers seem to be doing a good job of living up to that standard, Apple's forays into the cell phone market have not.

I dropped my iPhone multiple times from my pocket onto parking lot cement over the last two years and it's not had a problem (there are scratches, I don't think that's a deal breaker when using something every day for two years; any phone would be scratched). Does that make up for your example?

The iPhone continually gets top marks over other phones when it comes to satisfaction. If it fell apart in the first few months it wouldn't be. I'm not claiming it's the toughest phone in the world, but durability is not a wide problem, and anecdotal evidence does't prove anything. I would guess it has to do more with how a phone is dropped, onto what, at what angle, more than anything else.

I think Steve Jobs is a complete douche and an arrogant ass.

And? I mean, do you know him? I'm sure he's arrogant. No idea if he's a douche. Don't care either. Makes great products. You're making the mistake of believing love for the product is love for Jobs.

You are defending Apple, truly. It's pretty sad that you can't see that about what you're doing.

Pretty sad he has to defend the whole foxconn story in a thread about iPhone reception. Ericb has an axe to grind. I guess any apple thread will do.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:56 PM on June 27, 2010


Ericb has an axe to grind. I guess any apple thread will do.

No axe here. I own multiple Apple products (as I am typing this on a MacBook Pro) and like them.
posted by ericb at 7:12 AM on June 28, 2010


Pretty sad he has to defend the whole foxconn story in a thread about iPhone reception. Ericb has an axe to grind. I guess any apple thread will do.

BP made this thread about his defense of Apple, not about the iPhone reception discussion, a discussion BP didn't seem to want to have. That's not on ericb.
posted by 6550 at 8:29 AM on June 28, 2010


To recap the timeline:

1. I did not bring up Foxconn, ericb did and a few others latched on to the sweatshop trope.

2. I then posted some results from a journalist's fact-checking which call the anti-Apple hyperbole into question.

3. Several baseless attempts were made to try to equate Foxconn and Apple, which I explained were false given how a number of companies — including Windows and Linux PC makers — use Foxconn components.

4. 6550 is unhappy about my retina display thread. His failed attempt to derail it explains why he is here now, instead of going to Metatalk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2010


Re. [3], I would argue that any Foxconn customers are culpable to some degree for Foxconn's attitude and actions.

Apple's especially culpable for the results of Foxconn's security activities around Apple products -- just as, say, Sony would be, if they were pressuring Foxconn to engage in draconian security practices (where the subjunctive is meant to imply hypothetical, not counter-factual, as I have no idea whether Sony is as security-mad as Apple). Arguing otherwise seems to me to be basically tantamount to saying that you're not responsible for anything that anybody does on your behalf.

Re. [2], what you actually did was post a bunch of links to Bad Stuff About Android. Whatever your intent (which of course we had no way of knowing), to most people who bothered to comment on it, it apparently looked like an attempt to say "look, Android's bad too!" rather than engaging in the discussion of reception problems.

Re. [4], that looks to me to be very much like you doing something you've complained mightily about (and often with justification) when others do it: implying that you know the content of hearts and minds. (I only know what stuff looks like. You apparently know what ericb is thinking and feeling and what his reasons are for doing things.)

Thanks, by the way: I'm really interested in retina displays so now I'm probably going to go look it up.
posted by lodurr at 9:12 AM on June 29, 2010


Ergh. It was the Apple retinal display. I thought it would be implants. Oh, well.
posted by lodurr at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2010


retinal display was a cool thread, though. just read it. made me remember that there was a time when i would have actually understood a lot of it.
posted by lodurr at 9:29 AM on June 29, 2010


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments. if only
posted by benzenedream at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2010


Naw, Artw has to come in and post a bunch of tangentially related links without comment first.

Just kidding around, Art, you're a great guy even if you're completely wrong about Apple.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:45 PM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


ONLY GRUBER APPROVED LINKS IN ZEALOTRY ZONE.
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on June 29, 2010


That was out of line, Mister. Please report to the nearest Genius Bar for reeducation.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:08 PM on June 29, 2010


Apple sells more than 1.7 million iPhones in 3 days.

Analysts say Apple's iPhone 4 parts cost $187.51.

Foxconn plans China plant amid suicide scrutiny.
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2010


Here's an interesting post on the reception issue. Bottom line: a bare hand (uninsulated) can cause a drop in performance. This was significantly mitigated when the author used a piece of cloth to keep the hand from actually touching the metal antennas. Whether or not a given user will have a problem will depend on signal strength; it may be unnoticeable with a good connection. I'll add that it's also probable that different people's hands will show differences in the effect as well.
posted by 6550 at 4:56 PM on June 29, 2010


Apple hiring iPhone antenna engineers.
posted by octothorpe at 5:23 AM on June 30, 2010


iPhone 4 Antenna Issue: The Class Action Lawsuits Begin

iPhone 4 has lousy reception, but why sue?

eBay sellers capitalize on iPhone 4 antenna problems

Leaked: Apple’s internal iPhone 4 antenna troubleshooting procedures

KCR (law firm) CONSUMER INVESTIGATION: iPHONE 4 Dropped Calls and Reception Problems

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments. if only

IF ONLY you want another f'ing iPhone thread! :D
posted by mrgrimm at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2010


Jobs E-Mails Hint at iPhone 4 Fix, HD Uploads.
posted by ericb at 1:59 PM on July 1, 2010


iPhone-Haters With Big Paws May Love Droid X.

Security Experts Rank Android, iPhone.

Verizon, Nokia Poke Fun At iPhone Antenna Issue.

iPhone Users Look to Livestrong Bands For Cheaper Fix.
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2010


Music video shot on an iPhone 4 with music created on an iPad.
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on July 1, 2010


Apple: Our bad - bar display calculation formula was wrong all along!
posted by Jimbob at 9:36 AM on July 2, 2010


Our bad - bar display calculation formula was wrong all along!

Heh. I heard somebody talking about that this morning and was a little nonplussed.

I mean, it sorta validates the link that I didn't post yesterday:

The Apple-AT&T class action suit should have come years ago
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 AM on July 2, 2010


Ok, this part gave me the lulz.
The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever
Humble much?
posted by wierdo at 1:50 AM on July 3, 2010


Why did Comedy Central try to remove an Apple "EyePhone" joke from Futurama clips?
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2010


Apple’s app store, filled with “App farms” being used to steal.

iTunes accounts hacking more widespread than initially thought. The facts, and what you should do.
posted by homunculus at 2:27 PM on July 5, 2010


Apple responds on iTunes fraud, vaguely confirms said fraud
posted by homunculus at 9:10 AM on July 6, 2010


Why Consumer Reports can't recommend the iPhone 4
posted by homunculus at 1:31 PM on July 12, 2010


Apple deleting mentions of Consumer Reports' iPhone 4 piece on forums
posted by homunculus at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2010


Ew. Creepy.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2010


From the comments at the 'deleting mentions' article: "And you'll see why 1984 WILL be like 1984."
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on July 13, 2010


Apple knew about iPhone 4 antenna design flaw.
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2010


Apple calls press conference Friday on iPhone 4 issue.
posted by ericb at 11:37 AM on July 15, 2010


iOS 4.0 on 3G iPhone - apparently a "parody", but it seems not to dissimilar to my experience of running 3.1.x on the 3G since the updates to support the 3GS.
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Apple The New Toyota?
"Over the last 10 to 15 years, Apple has done a remarkable job of creating cutting-edge devices that have won the hearts of their users. It forged a special bond with customers and investors that other companies want but don't have. It seemed to be bulletproof. Suddenly, Apple may have a chink in its armor."
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2010


iPhone4 vs HTC Evo
posted by Artw at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


New FPP and discussion continues here.
posted by ericb at 7:28 AM on July 16, 2010


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