Did Apple know about glitch before iPhone 4 hit market?

15 Jul 2010

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Tomorrow the world will know Apple’s real stance on the iPhone 4 antenna debacle. In the meantime, there has been speculation that one of Apple’s senior engineers warned CEO Steve Jobs and management before the device hit the market.

According to a report today on Bloomberg, Apple’s senior antenna expert told Jobs in the design phase of the new iPhone that the antenna design could lead to dropped calls.

A source told the newswire that senior Apple engineer Ruben Cabellero informed management ahead of the 24 June release of the device in the US.

Buyers have complained of display discolouration and lost reception when they touch the stainless steel band on the iPhone’s surround, a component that actually doubles as the device’s antenna.

“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone,” Apple said in a statement in recent weeks. “If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”

However, in recent days, Consumer Reports, after testing three different iPhone 4s, caused a storm when it said it could not recommend the iPhone 4.

Apple’s stock fell 2pc on Tuesday on what was an otherwise buoyant day on the stock markets.

Comments in a research note by Bernstein Research analyst Antonio Sacconaghi suggest that if Apple were to recall the iPhone 4, it would cost Apple US$1.5bn.

Apple plans to hold a press conference tomorrow in at its Silicon Valley headquarters to tackle the controversy and reveal what its intentions are.

One suggestion has been to issue for free the US$29 bumpers that apparently resolve the issue.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com