The iPhone 4 Antenna Issue: A Non-Sensationalized Perspective

by Dean Mattson

What’s maybe most remarkable about the recent coverage of the iPhone’s antenna issues is the inability of our mass media to get the story right. It makes you wonder: If they can’t explain something as simple as a phone, how can we trust them to explain important, really complicated events like wars and the economy?

First, let me point out that I don’t own the iPhone 4 and don’t plan to. I bought a 3GS late last year and I’m not eligible for any reduced pricing on any upgrade at this time. Even if I was, I’m happy with my phone now and I don’t need every new feature the moment they’re released. But from everything I’ve heard is that the new iPhone is a great device that most buyers are very happy with and it also appears that have a strange antenna problem in weak signal areas if held a certain way.

That’s hardly the message you get from watching the TV coverage. Watching that, you’d get the impression that the iPhone 4 is a total lemon that needs to be recalled and that Apple is trying to rip off the public by refusing to do so. Ridiculous. What would be the point of that? True, Apple is a company that wants to make money, but it wants to keep making money by selling customers the iPhone 5 and 6 and 7 and so on. It’s had a very good run lately and it’s not in the company’s interest to stop that momentum with a faulty product. That said, so far it has responded to these antenna reports very poorly with stupid statements like telling customers they have to learn how to hold their phone differently and at one point deleting every reference to a critical Consumer Reports article on their discussions forums. Hopefully at today’s press event, they’ll apologize for those blunders, have a clear explanation for what’s going on with their antenna and detail a fair and reasonable way to fix it.

Actually, I think Consumer Reports had it exactly right. When they tested the new iPhone, it came out as the highest rated smartphone. They also confirmed the antenna issue and, as a result of that, didn’t recommend it. They didn’t tell people not to buy it, they just couldn’t recommend it.

If I were buying a new phone, I would have no problem buying an iPhone 4. I would, however, be sure check the return policy at the store I was buying it from so I could bring it back without any cost or hassle if I did turn out to have significant problems with it.

But let’s see what Apple says today.