Archive for the ‘iPhone’ Category

Apple To End iPhone 4 Free Bumper Program

September 14, 2010

As expected, Apple has announced it is winding down its iPhone 4 free bumper program at the end of the month, although it appears a bumper would still be available to those who file a complaint with AppleCare. According to a statement on its website,

We now know that the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought. A small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case, and we want to continue providing them a Bumper case for free. For everyone else, we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010. We are also returning to our normal returns policy for all iPhone 4s sold after September 30. Users experiencing antenna issues should call AppleCare to request a free Bumper case.

Although Apple claims the antenna attenuation issue is insignificant, we reported last week that customers can now see for themselves precisely how the signal strength of the phone is affected by the manner in which the device is gripped. It is unclear what has changed since July to cause Apple to discontinue this program. As PC World asks,

Without knowing the real numbers behind how many users are impacted, though, it seems that it is in Apple’s best interests to simply continue the free case program. If the number of affected users is truly so small, what is the harm in extending the free case offer?

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Test your iPhone 4’s Antenna Reception

September 9, 2010

Months after debate began over the iPhone 4’s antenna design and reception, it appears there is now an easy way to test the antenna for yourself. Gizmodo is providing instructions on how to activate an iPhone 4’s “field test mode,” which replaces the phone’s signal bars with a numerical measure of signal strength.

You just need to follow these two easy steps:

• First, upgrade your iPhone 4—or any iPhone—to iOS 4.1.
• Dial *3001#12345#* into your phone.

Done. The signal bars will be replaced with a number (like -85). The more negative the number, the worse the signal is. Example: -110 is worse than -85. Once activated, you can switch between signal bars and number by touching on the number.

Try the test mode now. Then use a finger to connect the two metal bands on the lower left corner, over the black plastic strip. That will short-circuit the magical gap and bring the phone’s signal down quite significantly.

To get out of the field test mode, just hit the home button.

This test confirms earlier reports by many, including Consumer Reports, that the iPhone 4 suffers from a critical antenna design defect that causes the phone to lose signal strength when held in a typical manner.

In other news, an analyst firm in Minneapolis has concluded that Antennagate has taken a significant toll on sales of the iPhone 4. According to a telephone poll conducted by the firm,

“We found that the antenna issue has impacted the purchase of 20% of people who are aware of the iPhone 4 antenna issue,” the analyst firm said in an email bulletin.

[…]

Apple could lose up to $0.11 in September earnings per share due to the antenna issue, Piper Jaffray said.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

More Trouble for Apple

August 10, 2010

Nearly two months after the release of the iPhone 4, the Antennagate fallout continues at Apple. This week, the company’s senior vice president for mobile devices, Mark Papermaster, left the company amid speculation that he was forced out over the iPhone 4’s defective antenna. According to the New York Times,

Apple confirmed Mr. Papermaster’s departure, but would not say whether he was ousted or left of his own accord. Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Papermaster declined to comment.

A person with direct knowledge of the situation, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it, said Mr. Papermaster had been pushed out over a series of hardware problems, including some related to the iPod Touch.

Mr. Papermaster, who joined Apple in 2008 from IBM, had been excluded from Steve Jobs’ July press conference addressing concerns with the iPhone 4’s antenna design. He will be replaced by Bob Mansfield, senior VP for Macintosh hardware engineering.

The decision to replace Mr. Papermaster might have been a result of his failure to address the defective antenna prior to the phone’s release. According to one source, Apple may have been aware of problems with the antenna design as early as two years ago. John Gruber reports,

One last tidbit from an informed source: the bug on the “touching it wrong” signal loss issue was filed two years ago. This is not a problem they didn’t catch, or caught too late. So, on the one hand, clearly the fundamental antenna design predated Papermaster’s time at the company. But on the other hand, there was plenty of time to find a solution to the problem.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Latest News on iPhone 4 Antenna Problems

August 4, 2010

Last week, Apple launched the iPhone 4 in 17 additional countries, re-igniting debate over the phone’s antenna design. As Apple continues to run into problems domestically with its antenna ‘fix’, the controversy now moves abroad. According to Ars Techinica,

Lest you thought the whole ordeal was over, however, UK-based PA Consulting Group performed its own analysis, using tests similar to those performed by Consumer Reports and others. Those tests are in line with what we have already seen: the iPhone 4 has a bigger problem with signal loss than other smartphones. PA’s wireless expert Simon Tonks concluded that “the ‘death grip’ issue is real, and is worse for the Apple iPhone 4 than for other smartphones.” He also added, “The iPhone 4’s radio performance was also found to be generally at the lower end.”

Back home, Apple appears to be distancing itself from claims made by Steve Jobs last month that other smartphones suffered antenna issues similar to those of the iPhone 4. According to Channelweb,

“Is Apple backing off its assertion that the antenna issues plaguing iPhone 4 happen with rival smartphones, too?

Apple’s Web site sure makes it seem that way: gone — at least from immediate view — are the videos Apple posted detailing how other smartphones, such as Droid X, lose signal bars when held a certain way.”

The decision to withdraw these videos come after Research in Motion, Nokia, and other manufactures issued statements denying Apple’s assertions regarding their phone’s antenna designs.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Apple’s iPhone “Fix” Running Into Problems

July 27, 2010

Less than two weeks after Steve Jobs held a press conference announcing that Apple would be providing free bumper cases to dissatisfied iPhone 4 customers, reports indicate that the free bumper program is need of a ‘fix’ itself. According to BNET, customers have run into a variety of issues in trying to claim their bumper.

Some got notifications that their iPhones weren’t eligible for the program, even though they ran the app from an iPhone 4. As one customer noted, the app wasn’t guaranteed to recognize the type of device and that a call to customer service was necessary. The customer service rep’s answer was that Apple had to “get the information into ‘the system.’”

One person complained of downloading the app to a computer and trying to sync to the iPhone 4, at which point the computer froze. Another found that the app refused to take the user’s ID and password, even though the combination worked to download the app. A buyer who bought the iPhone 4 in the UK and who has a UK iTunes account received an email after using the case app that the order was cancelled because Apple doesn’t ship internationally.

Others have experienced frustrating shipping delays, as they are forced to order the bumper online and cannot simply pick one up at an Apple or AT&T store. As PC World reports, the timeline that has been created on returning your phone for a full refund and receiving a free bumper puts customers in a tough position.

It’s awesome that Apple is granting full refunds, but you might not get a bumper in time to determine if it’s an effective solution or not before the 30 day deadline expires. And, by the way, just because Apple is willing to give you a full refund doesn’t mean that AT&T is willing to surrender your contractual obligation.

The estimated shipping timeline on all of the bumpers and cases available from the Apple program is three to five weeks. AT&T contracts aside, it seems that Apple should provide a 30 day window from the time the bumper is shipped to give users adequate time to work with the Band-Aid solution and determine if it’s effective enough to warrant keeping the device.

It is quickly becoming clear that Apple’s proposed ‘fix’ is no more than a band-aid to the problem, and not a very strong one at that. “Antennagate” has not ended and consumers continue to demand a more appropriate response from Apple to their concerns with the iPhone 4’s defective design.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

PC World: Apple’s iPhone Defense is Total Nonsense

July 22, 2010

PC World has some sharp criticism regarding Apple’s Antennagate Apologia.

In particular, the article focuses on Apple’s argument that “all smartphones have this problem.” While the article recognizes that all smartphones may have certain “spots” on them that, if touched, will cause some signal impedance, the problem with the iPhone 4 is where that “spot” lies:

“The same applies to the other smartphones Jobs mentioned: On the BlackBerry Bold 9700, for example, the internal antenna is located toward the bottom-center of the phone’s back side. As CIO’s Al Sacco demonstrates, you’d have to intentionally hold the phone in an odd and awkward manner in order to cover this spot and achieve any signal-dropping effect.”

“The iPhone 4, in contrast, has its antenna on the outside, in a place where lots of people put their fingers. That’s the difference — and that’s the key piece of information Steve Jobs neglected to mention when trying to defend his phone by bashing others. It’s easy to see why Jobs omitted this information; its very presence makes his argument invalid.”

PC World concludes, as we have here for weeks — this was a conscious decision by Apple to emphasize form at the expense of function:

“The reality here is simple: Jobs and his team chose design over function when creating the iPhone 4. No amount of misleading comparisons or flowery adjectives can mask that. (One of my favorite remarks from Friday’s Apple presentation: “We went to a lot of trouble to put this really beautiful line in the stainless steel” — referring to the line that, when touched, causes your call to drop.)”

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Free Bumpers Not Enough

July 19, 2010

If Steve Jobs had hoped that Friday’s press conference would put an end to ‘antennagate’ and silence critics of the defective iPhone 4, he is probably disappointed. While offering free bumpers to iPhone 4 customers may have been a step in the right direction, many are still unconvinced that Apple has done enough to honestly address the problem. Consumer Reports, whose decision to not recommend the iPhone 4 caused shockwaves, wants to see more before it changes its stance.

Consumer Reports believes Apple’s offer of free cases is a good first step. However, Apple has indicated that this is not a long-term solution, it has guaranteed the offer only through September 30th, and has not extended it unequivocally to customers who bought cases from third-party vendors. We look forward to a long-term fix from Apple. As things currently stand, the iPhone 4 is still not one of our Recommended models.

PC World echoed this sentiment, stating that,

“[G]iven all of the issues we’ve personally had with the phone, we cannot recommend the iPhone 4 to other consumers until these problems are. A bumper feels like a clumsy solution and the proximity sensor issues inexcusable for a smartphone of this caliber.”

Competitor smartphone manufacturers took exception with Jobs claim that all smartphones suffer from similar attenuation and signal loss problems as the iPhone. Research in Motion, who manufactures Blackberry mobile devices, issued a press release challenging Apple’s assertions about its phones.

Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.

Nokia, HTC, and Motorola issued similar statements in defense of their antenna design.

Still others, including Slate, had issue with the overall defensive and condescending tone of the press conference.

I just wish Jobs could have handled this mini-crisis in a classier way. His data clearly show that the new iPhone is dropping more calls than the old one. He could have admitted a problem, offered a fix, and said, “We’re sorry for any trouble we caused you.” Instead, he sounded wounded and paranoid, as if we were all being ungrateful for not recognizing Apple’s contributions to the world.

Many questions still remain, including the validity of reports that Apple was aware of the defective antenna early in design stages and what will happen after September 30. Free bumpers may be a short-term fix, but in the long run, Apple will need a stronger band-aid.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

Apple Slapping a Bumper on the Problem

July 19, 2010

Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a special press conference on Friday in Cupertino, California to address the month-long discussion of the iPhone 4’s defective antenna design, which he described as ‘Antennagate.’ (video available here). Defiant and unbending, Jobs spent the better part of 15 minutes pushing back at critics of the iPhone 4, claiming “this has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible.”

Jobs claimed that the antenna reception issue is one inherent to ALL smartphones, offering data and statistics to show that the iPhone 4’s antenna reception was comparable to that of other brands, or even the iPhone 3GS.

“The data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world,” Mr. Jobs said. “And there is no ‘Antennagate.’ There is a challenge to the entire industry to improve antenna performance so that there are no weak spots.”

Despite spending considerable time in a defensive posture, claiming no problem existed, Jobs eventually shifted tactic, and began describing the need for a fix.

“Now when we look at this data, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that problem is affecting a very small number of users. I get emails saying the phone works perfectly, and they can’t understand what this is all about. So we think it’s affecting a small batch, but it has to do with inherent problems in smartphones. But we want all of our users to be happy.”

As a result, Apple will be offering free bumper cases to all iPhone 4 owners starting this week and until September 30th. Additionally, those who have already bought Apple’s bumper will receive a full refund. Customers who have purchased third-party cases, though, will be uncompensated, and its still unclear what will happen after September 30th.

Jobs also rebuffed a Bloomberg report that Apple was made aware of the defective Antenna early in the design process, calling the story “crock.” Nonetheless, Jobs failed to state when they became fully aware of a potential defect.

Near the end of his presentation, Jobs explained that it took 22 days to respond to this issue because they did not want to simply slap a band-aid on the problem. Instead, it seems, Apple is content to simply slap a bumper on it.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

NY Post: “Apple Slapped with Glitch”

July 16, 2010

In anticipation of Apple’s press conference to be held at 10 a.m. PST this morning, the New York Post is reporting that Apple will be announcing a fix for the phone’s defective antenna.

A financial analyst directly involved in the phone’s supply chain told The Post that the company will announce a remedy that involves taking the phone apart and inserting a piece of insulating material to protect the antenna.

Until now, Apple has responded to complaints only by advising iPhone users to buy a $30 bumper to cover the integrated antenna.

“This is essentially the functional equivalent of the rubber bumper on the outside, but it’s on the inside,” said Ashok Kumar, a senior technology analyst for the investment firm Rodman Renshaw.

“The supply-chain partners are implementing the mechanical fix to units coming out on [the] manufacturing floor now.”

Kumar learned of the “fix” from contacts in Taiwan, where the iPhone is manufactured.

It was unclear if the repair can be done in stores, or if the phones will have to be sent to the company. Calls and e-mails to Apple were not returned yesterday.

Additionally, Apple has yet to respond to reports it had knowledge of the defective antenna early on in the design stages of the phone.

At least nine lawsuits have been filed against the California-based company, accusing Apple and carrier AT&T of knowingly selling a defective device, breach of implied warranty and other charges.

Dan Ward, who is representing clients in a class-action suit in Maryland, said the revelation that Jobs was warned strengthens his case.

“It supports our theory that Apple and AT&T knew about the design defect well before it was put on the market and deliberately deceived people,” he said.

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward

U.S. Senator Hammers Apple over Antennagate

July 15, 2010

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has weighed in on the iPhone 4 controversy, issuing a sharply worded letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. A powerful member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Schumer urges Apple to “address the flaw in a transparent manner,” raising concerns with the discrepancy between Apple’s official response and reports that a defective antenna is to blame for reception issues.

July 15, 2010

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple’s innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports’ review, released Monday on its website, the iPhone 4’s signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, “call[s] into question” Apple’s recent claim that the problem is “largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software.” Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.

Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports’ explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly two million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called “death grip” malfunction-such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it-seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.

I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.

I look forward to Apple’s swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

If you own an iPhone 4, and are interested in participating in our lawsuit against Apple and AT&T, please email me at dan@wardlawdc.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Dan Ward