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According to internal Apple documents leaked to the public today on the Boy Genius blog (Leaked: Apple’s internal iPhone 4 antenna troubleshooting procedures), Apple is fully aware of the iPhone 4 reception flaws that we discussed earlier this week, despite repeated assertations by Apple that there is, in fact, no reception flaw. In a word - Apple just got caught red-handed lying to customers and trying to cover up a problem that they've clearly known about for some time.

If you missed it the first time around, the iPhone 4 reception problem occurs when iPhone 4 users hold the phone so that their bare skin is touching the lower left-hand corner of the device, where the two metal bands that run around the phone are separated. Touching the iPhone in that left-hand corner causes the two separate antennas to be bridged, attenuating the frequencies and causing an immediate and dramatic loss of reception - in some cases, as extreme as from five bars to none.

Apple's response to early reports of the iPhone 4 reception issue was to state that "There is no reception issue." When Jobs was contacted about the loss of reception, his response was to tell users to "avoid holding it that way," stating that all phones on the market suffer from attenuation problems depending on how they're held. Although that may be true, users are interested in the reception attenuating of one phone in particular - their expensive, brand-new iPhone 4.

According to the leaked internal Apple documents, which were sent from Apple headquarters to workers in Apple stores (one of whom is likely responsible for the leak), there is indeed a problem with the reception, but Apple employees are instructed to hold fast to Apple's party line about the phone being held wrong, and to avoid at all costs performing warranty service or giving customers bumper cases that may help to solve the problem.

Here are some quotes from the document:

  • "Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy – your tone when delivering this information is important."
  • "Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world."
  • "If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band."
  • "Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns."
  • "The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas."
  • "We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON’T promise a free bumper to customers."

So, just to sum that up, Apple's leaked documents show them saying, essentially, this: "You know that problem that we said repeatedly wasn't a problem? Well, when countless users come to the store to complain to you about this non-problem, here's a solution, which you won't need anyway because the problem doesn't actually exist. If customers are experiencing the problem (which they're not, because there is no problem), it's not evidence of the problem, it's evidence that they screwed up holding the phone. They can fix this non-existent problem using a rubber case, but make sure that you don't offer free cases to customers; after all, they won't need them, since there isn't a problem."

What's Apple NOT saying? This: "We screwed up when we designed the iPhone 4 and we screwed up even worse when we were testing it. Now that we've rushed it to market without fixing a problem that we must have known about before shipping, let's make sure that we cover our asses by pretending that the problem doesn't exist. Under NO circumstances should we give users the means to fix the problem - a cheap rubber case - not because it's expensive and cuts into our profits, but because doing so would force us to acknowledge that we screwed up, which is the absolute last thing we want to do when Google is pug-breathing up our asses like a dog in heat."

Does that about sum it up?

Jun 30, 2010

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