Apple to hold iPhone 4 press conference tomorrow

15 Jul 2010

It appears that Apple may have finally decided to comprehensively address the so-called ‘death grip’ issue plaguing the iPhone 4 after it announced that it is to hold a press conference tomorrow on the latest iteration of its popular smartphone.

After the release of the iPhone 4 late last month, user complaints emerged of signal degradation on the iPhone when users gripped the device on the sides.

Tomorrow’s press conference comes two weeks after Apple officially commented on iPhone 4 reception issues, saying that holding the next-gen handset the wrong way isn’t drastically affecting reception because that reception might not have been there to begin with.

“Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying four or five bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.”

Apple also said that when the user covers the phone with his or her hand this only mildly affects the reception.

iPhone 4 testing by Consumer Reports

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

“Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4 have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side — an easy thing, especially for lefties — the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”

According to one estimate by Bernstein Research analyst Antonio Sacconaghi, a recall of the iPhone 4 over antenna issues would cost Apple US$1.5bn.

However, according to Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, a more reasonable approach would be to give free US$29 bumpers to iPhone 4 users, a move that would cost Apple just 1pc of its operating profit.

Analysts and stock market observers agree that the easiest fix for Apple would be to issue perturbed new iPhone 4 owners the bumpers that would fix the antenna problem for free.

Sacconaghi said the growing volume of complaints suggests that Apple’s image, and potentially iPhone sales, could be compromised if Apple does not “explicitly and constructively” address the issues with the new smartphone.

Either way, Apple is expected to address the ‘death grip’ issue head-on tomorrow.

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