What you need to know if you have or want an iPhone 4

Free bumper, but it's really not Apple's fault. Oh, and the iPhone 4 is still buggy.
Written by Joel Evans, Contributor

Today Apple held a press conference and the result actually surprised me. Instead of offering a discount on the bumper case, as I had speculated yesterday, the company actually ended up offering up free bumper cases for everyone. The rest didn't come as a surprise, though, with Jobs saying that Apple's listening and cares about its customers, etc. etc.

In true Jobs style, he acknowledged that there was an issue, but then proceeded to blame the industry as a whole. The press conference included moments where Jobs walked the attendees through the results of tests performed by Apple's lab technicians where they could reproduce the antenna issue on a number of other well-known phones, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, and Samsung Omnia II. He also showed the audience pictures of Apple's own testing areas and said that they're going to be working on solving the solution along with the rest of the industry.

So, what are your choices as an iPhone 4 owner, or soon-to-be iPhone 4 owner? Here's a quick list:

  • Get yourself a bumper, and if they're not in stock, Apple will be offering up some alternatives on its website starting late next week. Keep in mind, all alternatives that Apple endorses will be free, just like its own bumper
  • If you don't like your iPhone 4, return it for free--no restocking fee
  • Update to the latest OS, iOS 4.0.1, to see what your signal strength really is. Basically, Apple contends that it has been miscalculating the signal strength and misrepresenting the number of bars that are really available. With this latest update you should see less "bars in more places"

Also, even with the antenna issue "solved", in Apple's eyes, there are still other issues. Some of the biggest ones include:

  • A bug with the proximity sensor that lets you hang up on people, mute them, or put them on hold, all by accident with your face
  • Bluetooth connectivity issues
  • FaceTime occasionally starting without the speakerphone engaged
  • Random dropped calls

Apple has mentioned that it is aware of the proximity sensor issue and will be releasing an update. No word on the other issues, though.

While I applaud Apple for offering up a free piece of plastic, I'm disturbed by some of the tactics used in the press conference. For example, Jobs stated that they hardly received any complaints about the antenna issue on the help line. This is no doubt because the internet was loaded with people talking about it and demonstrating it, so even non-techies knew it was an issue. Why call Apple and complain when you assume that Apple already knows? Also, it's now not clear if Jobs himself has been writing some of the latest e-mails, since he told the audience to "not believe everything they read".

In summary, the antenna isn't being fixed anytime soon, but Apple will be giving away bumpers. Is it the perfect fix? No, but most users do claim that the bumper case does "solve" the antenna problem.

And if you're not happy with the solution, you can return your iPhone 4 for a full refund, or not buy the iPhone 4 at all, as the video below, which Jobs showed off today at the press conference, clearly states:

UPDATE: I also wanted to point out that I'm using an iPhone 4 as my primary currently. I keep going back and forth with the HTC EVO, but the iPhone 4 is working, aside from dropped calls and other bugs I mentioned above. It's a nice screen, and a nice phone. I'm just a bit disappointed how this antenna issue has been handled.

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