Apple reframes "Touch of Death" as "Gorilla Grip of Death"

Apple reframes "Touch of Death" as "Gorilla Grip of Death"

Summary: It's disingenuous of Apple to reframe the "Touch of Death" antenna issue with the iPhone 4 as an industry-wide "Gorilla Grip of Death" problem.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, Mobility
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It's disingenuous of Apple to reframe the "Touch of Death" antenna issue with the iPhone 4 as an industry-wide "Gorilla Grip of Death" problem.

See, the issue affecting the iPhone 4 is pretty specific. Touch the gap between the chassis bands on the side of the handset with the buttons, and the signal collapses (the scale of the collapse depends on the signal strength to begin with). Apple acknowledges that this issue exists:

OK, fine. That's all pretty clear. But where it gets interesting is how Apple is turning something which to me seems like a design flaw (that this, the gap is exposed and can be touched) into an industry-wide issue by redefining the problem. What Apple wants to do is turn the "Touch of Death" that affects the iPhone 4 into a "Gorilla Grip of Death" where it shows the lifeforce bars being squeezed out of a variety of handsets by other makers when held is odd ways.

 

 

See, there's quite a difference between attenuation of the signal experienced when your finger brushes against a point of the chassis (a stop that just happens to coincide with where people normally place their fingers, especially when holding the handset in their right hand), to the "problems" you see when gripping the handset. To me, the two issues are very different, as different as finding a touch spot on the case that makes the display switch off and trying to compare that to the "problem" of not being able to see the screen when cupping your hand over it.

See, in many ways Apple is right. The following statement is 100% correct:

Every smartphone has a cellular antenna. And nearly every smartphone can lose signal strength if you hold it in a certain way.

Problem is when the "certain way" that causes signal loss also happens to be a "normal way" to hold the device. That's what makes the iPhone 4 problem so special. While manufacturers such as Nokia and Samsung can pop a note into their instruction manual telling people not to cover the antenna when it's somewhere out of the way, it's pretty hard for Apple to not tell people to touch the side of the handset where ... well ... people normally hold the handset.

Apple, I give your attempt at reframing this problem a C+ ... bullish, but transparent.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility

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  • There are still 2 distinct problems

    1) Normal signal attenuation is when the signal is shielded by something (or someone). Most/all phones are prone to this.

    2) Specific to Apple: 2 antennas on the outside with but a small strip separating them. Touch this with even mildly sweaty hands and you have a galvanic connection between the antennas which will immediately cause signal degradation/loss.

    Apple is still trying their hand-waiving (if not outright lies) to make consumers believe that no. 2 does not exist and that iPhone4 only suffers from no. 1.
    honeymonster
    • Well said

      @honeymonster <br><br>Unfortunately there is so much denying that this is a real issue by both Jobs and the Apple Fanboys (who blindly believe every word he tells them) that this issue might be swept under a rug. I really hope this comes back to bite them bigtime. If only for the fact that Steve Jobs is so arrogant and treats their customers like idiots. <br><br>Then again, if you are so gullable as to believe that this is a non-issue, I guess you need to deal with this design flaw for the rest of the time you own the phone, all while your head is firmly planted in the sand. I guess you can always get a pack of these if you don't want to spoil the look of the iPhone with a bumber or case: <a href="http://antenn-aid.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="http://antenn-aid.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://antenn-aid.com/</a></a><br><br>Yes we know not everyone is seeing this issue, but that is simply because you have a strong signal to begin with and in that case the design flaw is masked.<br><br>I'm certainly never buying an Apple product again. Seeing how Apple responds when a real desigh flaw crops up is an eye opener, and doesn't make me feel comfortable buying any more products from them.

      EDIT: When I say "you", I mean Apple Fanboys in general, not you specifically, as I know you are not one of them :)
      Qbt
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @Qbt apparently you didn't watch the press conference last week. Mr. Jobs bent over backward on two issues:
        1. He consistently called customer satisfaction a top priority, saying over and over how much he and Apple value their customers (users).
        2. Even as he described the issue as an industry issue he praised his competitors as making great phones.
        Both of those were expressions of humility and atonement. He has put in the 'fix' that Consumers Reports demanded. Which pound of flesh would you prefer?
        dheady@...
      • RE: Apple reframes

        I have always had a case on my iPhones. So when this issue came up, I said "so what". The new iPhone is two pieces of glass sandwiched together and needs some kind of protection, otherwise you would be default hold it with a "gorilla grip" to insure you don't drop it! With a case, you can personalize your phone. When you case is looking a little tired, change the case and the phone is still like new. The iPhone is still one of the best smart phones available, but don't buy one if you don't like it; Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola employees still need jobs too!
        smithrg
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @dheady@...<br><br>LOL, Steve jobs "bend over backwards"... Your RDF receptor is working at full capacity, congratulations!<br><br>@smithrg<br><br>So basically what you are telling us is that there really isn't an issue, other than the fact that if you want your phone to actually work properly you <b>have</b> to put it in a case even if you want to show the world how cool you are for having an iPhone 4? This after the fact that the Steve Jobs went on stage and bragged about how great it looks, what with its glass back and exposed antenna? Yet you are now essentially <b>required</b> to cover both of those up? I guess when you have drunk deep from the Apple Kool-Aid well you can't see how laughable and stupid that is...
        Qbt
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @Qbt [b]I guess you can always get a pack of these if you don't want to spoil the look of the iPhone with a bumber or case: http://antenn-aid.com/[/b]

        I'm one of those who have felt this was an overblown issue but at the same time that is pretty freaking funny...

        Now concerning your comment about the cases below - I have always kept my iPhone 3G in some kind of case from the beginning just like I have all of my phones... mainly for protection as I have a physically demanding job and I'm hard on phones... just as I plan on getting a case for the iPhone 4when I buy it just for that reason - protection. That it will take care of any reception issue I may or may not have with the device is really secondary to me.
        athynz
      • For all those who put iPhones in a case...

        Do you still quote the size of the iPhone [b]without[/b] a case when you are comparing phone sizes? I got a screen protector for my HTC Touch Diamond but no case yet whenever a discussion of phone sizes comes up, people always quote Apple's specifications but a case adds significantly to the pocketable size of an iPhone. And since we have now been told that everyone who uses an iPhone uses a case anyway, we can no longer say things like the iPhone is the slimmest smartphone out there.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @Qbt
        I don't think phone hardware and firmware are worth getting so worked up about. I admire some of the work that Steve Jobs and Apple have done and I usually consider Apple products when I am looking to buy. In this case though, and I don't mean to trash Apple, Jobs is off his rocker. At first he blew off the problem publicly (i.e. don't hold it that way) and then at times during the press conference when he was downright cranky. This is one of a line of products that has made him millions. The particular product is flawed. Blowing it off or being silly or cranky is not going to fix the problem. Even if the criticism isn't justified, and I think it may be a little overblown, it needs to be dealt with in a serious way.
        redhaven
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @Qbt "I'm certainly never buying an Apple product again." As if you ever have.
        jpdemers@...
      • RE: Apple reframes

        jpdemers@...

        I have an iPhone 3GS. Last product I'll ever buy from Apple. If you don't believe me, I really don't care. I don't see what I would gain by lying about it.

        Do you think I'm "lying" about having an iPhone because... how could I possibly hold such a <i>magical</i> device in my hands and <b>not</b> dunk my head deep into the Kool-Aid well and believe everything His Steveness tells me...? Excuse me, I'm more intelligent than that...
        Qbt
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @NonZealot

        [u]http://www.zagg.com/index2.php[/u]

        Adds .4mm.

        They make them for many different devices. Highly recommended.
        msalzberg
      • @msalzberg: Thanks!

        I've only ever seen people put rather thick cases on their iPhones. I will definitely check out getting one of those Zagg cases.

        Thanks!
        NonZealot
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @NonZealot <br><br>I've had InvisibleSheild full body kits on my last two blackberries. They're a huge pain to put on cleanly (heard some retailers are offering installation services now, take it if you can). As well, after about a year they'll get yellowed and you'll want to replace it.<br><br>That being said, there's no worries at all in that year besides full on drops. You'll peel it off in a year and your device will be mint.
        rtk
    • RE: Apple reframes

      @honeymonster if no 2 was specific to Apple as you suggest then everyone would be able to replicate the issue with their iPhones and yet not everyone can. There have been far too many Apple Hating blogs and comments escalating what is essentially a minor issue that - according to the return rate - only 1.7% of people who purchased the iPhone 4 have had.
      athynz
      • Have you been following?

        @athynz <br>Touching the gap and connecting the antennas will cause a significant signal deterioration. Demonstrated by Consumer Reports engineers.<br><br>Sorry but that particular genie is out of the bottle. It will take a very strong RDF to miss that.

        And yes, that particular problem is very specific to iPhone4, as it is the only smartphone to feature external, unshielded antennas.<br><br>Whether the signal deterioration will be significant enough to cause the call to be dropped depends on how strong the signal was to begin with. Makes sense? This will typically affect users who had 4 bars and lower to begin with*)<br><br>*)Depends on whether you installed the latest iOS4 which presumably <i>no longer lies</i> to you about signal strength (after Apple was "stunned" to discover that their software was being dishonest). Not to worry though, yes you will get fewer bars, but Apple makes up for it by providing you with <b>bigger bars</b>. Don't say they don't care about their customers!
        honeymonster
      • If you have a strong signal to begin with...

        @athynz <br><br>If you have a strong signal to begin with then it masks the design flaw. In areas where the signal is not very strong, the issue becomes real. That is where the "some people don't have an issue" meme comes from. The same people <b>will</b> have an issue if they go to an area that doesn't have a strong signal. While other phones <b>do</b> drop signal as well, none do it as <b>dramatically</b> as the iPhone does when you as much as <b>touch</b> it on the relevant spot (no "grip" required). And that spot is not in an area that is unusual to touch when holding it. When I hold my iPhone 3GS in either my right or left hand, either my fingers or palm touch that area. I'll be pretty annoyed if I need to change my habbit and hold the phone in an uncomfortable position just to make it work properly. No other phone ever required you to do that.<br><br>Here's another example of failed Apple Fanboy logic: In some cases people claim that this is a non-issue because in a lot of the photos that are shown (including Apple's own marketing material), people hold the phone while shorting the antenna out during non-call related activities. Those people need to realize that even if non-call related activities are performed, it is still a <b>phone</b> and it should be able to <b>receive</b> an incoming call at any moment. If the antenna is shorted out, well, you will miss the call.
        Qbt
      • Return rate is not a metric for the problem.

        @athynz

        How many iPhone 4 users have dropped calls and not recognized the problem for what it is, instead blaming the AT&T network? That's the response conditioned into iPhone users by the bogus signal bars.
        Lester Young
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @athynz

        Whatever you do, don't try to duplicate the problem. If you actually own an iPhone 4 and touching the magic black line has no effect, you're obviously wrong. Whether you know it or not, you're dropping calls, even if you can continue your conversations.
        msalzberg
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @athynz
        It is simply not logical to take the return rate as a sign of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product.

        Most people do not return products, period, unless they are DOA out of the box. The way most people look at it, when you buy a product you are taking a chance, you pay your money and you take your chances. If the product turns out to suck, then you put it on the shelf next to all the OTHER products that suck which you bought and then never use it again.

        I have an I-Pod Shuffle that I haven't used in a year and a half....I could have returned it, but I didn't bother, it just sits on the shelf untouched. That's the way most people do it.

        This is especially true of a phone, which comes with a 2 year contract. Returning a phone and reversing the upgrade is NOT an easy or trivial process.

        Most people will just keep using a phone they dislike rather than return it because they don't want the hassle, others will just go back to their old phone and forget about the new phone. Others wont' return the product but sell it on EBay or give it away.

        The argument that the ONLY people who dislike a product are the small minority who bother to return it is fallacious and illogical.
        Doctor Demento
      • RE: Apple reframes

        @honeymonster

        Consumer Reports' testers showed that touching the gap [b]can[/b] cause signal degredation, not that it will.

        This is borne out by the fact that the vast majority of iPhone 4 users have had no problems with this issue.
        msalzberg