This is why a recall is unlikely

Ed Dale on Real-World iPhone 4 Reception
[Via Daring Fireball]

Ed Dale:

Here’s the thing, out the front of my home there is a vortex of Next G misery — every time I pull my car in front of my house for the past five years, Blackberry, Nokia, First three iPhones — the call was cut mercilessly. You could set your watch by it. Regardless of phone, on the best network in the world, my call dropped.

Enter the iPhone 4.

For the first time in four years, the call kept going

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Yes, the iPhone 4 is broken / No, the iPhone 4 is not broken
[Via Engadget]

The controversy over the iPhone 4’s antenna issues continues to grow, particularly after Consumer Reports confirmed yesterday that every iPhone 4 suffers from signal attenuation when the phone is held with the lower left corner covered — a report that we confirmed with results from our own custom signal metering app. At this point, there’s no longer any question in our minds that the iPhone 4’s antenna can be made to lose signal by holding it “wrong” — and we definitely think it’s more than a little silly that simply holding the phone in your left hand has been nicknamed the “death grip.”

That said, however, it’s not at all clear what the real-world effects of the antenna issue actually are for most people — as we’ve repeatedly said, several iPhone 4s owned by the Engadget staff (including our review unit) have never experienced so much as a single dropped call, while others suffer from signal issues that results in lost calls and unresponsive data in a dramatic way. What’s more, at this point Apple’s sold well over two million iPhone 4s, and we simply haven’t heard the sort of outcry from users that we’d normally hear if a product this high-profile and this popular had a showstopping defect. Honestly, it’s puzzling — we know that the phone has an antenna-related problem, but we’re simply not able to say what that issue actually means for everyday users.

So we’re doing what we can do: we’ve collected reports from every member of the Engadget staff who’s using the phone, as well as reached out to a variety of tech industry colleagues for their experiences. As you’ll see, it seems like most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s, but the people who are having problems are having maddening issues in an inconsistent way. We’d say it all comes down to the network — particularly in New York City, where AT&T just completed a major upgrade — but even that isn’t a consistent factor in predicting experience. Ultimately, we just won’t know what’s really going on until Apple comes clean and addresses this issue (and the growing PR nightmare it’s become), but for now we can say with some certainty that not everyone is affected, and those that are seem to be in the minority. Read on for the full report.

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If this was something seen in a very high percentage of iPhones, it would be really troubling. But there are as many or more people saying they have better reception with the new iPhone as are having problems. In the real world, it does not seem to be affecting everyone to the extent that their calls fail when the wrong grip is used.

What is interesting is that some people can not get the Death Grip to drop a call for them under any circumstance while others have a lot of problems. Most of the Engadget staff could only recreate the problem if they went to very specific areas in the city and use the death grip. Otherwise, it often worked better than any other phone.

This may be quite complex to figure out.