Apple dissolved Antennagate, right? Not so fast. Yes, it looks as if most popular smart phones have similar attenuation problems. YouTube is exploding with videos of Nokia, RIM, Motorola, HTC, and others with an iPhone 4-like antenna problem. Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the hard data does not support a major attenuation issue with iPhone 4. Or, does it?
The Basic Stats
Apple has gone to a lot of trouble to show that most modern smart phones have similar antenna problems. Web sites now feature videos and manuals which show how smart phones should be held to reduce attenuation. The antenna problem is not just Apple’s iPhone.
Steve Jobs says .55-percent of AppleCare calls regarding the iPhone 4 have to do with reception or antenna problems. What we don’t know, of course, is how much of those calls are based on media hype surrounding Antennagate or are actual problems deserving of AppleCare support.
Apple also announced that iPhone 4’s returned to AT&T amount to 1.7-percent, far less than last year’s 3GS model of approximately 6-percent.
How about those dropped calls? Again, Steve Jobs said Apple is being transparent by point out that iPhone 4 has less than one more dropped call per 100 than iPhone 3GS. So, if there’s a major problem with dropped calls, it’s not reflected in those stats, right.
Could the problem more accurately be reflected in stats that were not disclosed?
The Missing Stats
I’ve watched Apple’s video of Steve Jobs’ Antennagate presentation twice. Two very important stats—some hard data—appear to be missing.
First, Steve Jobs pointed to the iPhone 4 return rate to AT&T, Apple’s largest reseller. Why just AT&T’s return rates? What about returns to the Apple Store? What was the return rate of iPhone 3GS vs. iPhone 4 to Apple’s own stores?
Second, Steve Jobs pointed to the dropped call stats, which seem to indicate less than one call more per hundred between the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3. What we don’t know is how many calls per 100 are dropped, and that number is likely to be higher in New York and San Francisco than in Dallas, TX or Kansas City, MO.
Let me do some math.
Let’s assume that only five calls per 100 were dropped on the iPhone 3GS using AT&T’s network. That’s five per 100. Assume that the iPhone 4’s dropped call rate was six per 100, or, as Apple states, one more per 100 than the iPhone 3GS. That’s not just one more per 100, it’s 20-percent higher than the iPhone 3GS. Would 20-percent higher rate indicate another reception problem?
In other words, Apple did not give data for iPhone 4 returns to their own Apple Stores or for online purchases. And, Apple did not say how many iPhone 4 calls per 100 are actually dropped.
For Apple to be totally transparent, such data should be forthcoming. Additionally, instead of simply displaying bars to report signal reception strength, provide the option to display decibels (dBm).