Recently, I made it clear I wasn’t happy that Apple were going to sell bumpers for iPhone 4 users to solve the signal strength problem with the device. In the press conference arranged to address the issue, featuring Steve Jobs, Apple announced that they would be offering a free bumper case to every one of the three million iPhone 4 customers to help and resolve the problem relating to how hard they grip the handset.
In the conference, Steve admitted that Apple are “not perfect”. He told attendees many people had informed the company using a bumper to protect the antenna on the steel shell of the phone was one solution to the problem. Many internet users have insisted that this is a design flaw, but Apple has continuously defended the device, claiming that all phones will loose some signal strength depending on how they are held. He also reiterated this in the conference, saying this was not a problem “unique” to the iPhone 4. Videos were presented showing how signal strength dropped on the iPhone 4 compared to other smartphones. Jobs said: “This has been blown so out of proportion, it’s incredible”.
I’ll repeat what I have said time and time before. I am not an Apple fanboy. I do not stand by every Apple product and defend it to the hilt as some others do. I do like Apple products. I will criticize them or dislike them if there are problems, as I evidently have with the iPhone 4. However, I am not a complete hater, either. I do love a number of features of this phone, including the new display, the video calling capabilities and the increased speed. And even though I criticized the phone, I am very happy with Apple as to how they have finally came forward and handled this problem.
Some would argue that this is a simple backing out on Apple’s part. I’d agree that they have taken long enough to respond to this, while complaints and discussion buzzed around the blogosphere. However, in the press conference, it appeared that Apple and Steve Jobs himself, often known to do it his own way with his somewhat controversial exchanges with disappointed customers via e-mail, were listening to their customers, even if it took this long. One news source I read claimed it would cost about $180 million for Apple to provide an iPhone case to all of the customers. They have heard how the press and the customers have praised the cases for solving the problem, and instead of profiting and taking advantage of this as it appeared they might have at the start, they are trying to remedy the issue.
Steve said that through to September 30, the bumpers will be free for iPhone 4 customers. Then, Apple will review the issue and decide what to do next. At least there is some progress. At least Apple is tackling some of the issue. I certainly think it’s a good move on Apple’s part to provide a free bumper to all customers if in only a couple of months they may find a different solution. In some ways I think that by the company offering these cases, they are somewhat conceding that this is partly a design fault of the phone – if they entirely believed that this was a problem that every other phone suffered, they would not go to the expense of offering these bumpers. I do, however, hope that this will just be a short term solution, and that in September, there will be a better alternative. Many would argue that they shouldn’t have to use a case or a bumper for something they’d d purchased in the thought that it would work correctly, and you’d be right, but at least Apple are doing something and will review it soon. It would appear many people use cases on their old iPhones anyway, to protect the cover or screen from scratches, so this might not present such a great change – but if Apple do not search for a better solution in September, they will leave customers in the thought that they are simply looking for short-term remedies.
What do you think about this pledge from Apple? Do you have an iPhone 4? What do you think of these problems? Would you buy an iPhone 4 after these problems? Is the free bumper the best solution? Will you be taking advantage of it? Is it really a design flaw? Let me know what you think, in a comment.