Apple has settled a class action lawsuit over the ‘antennagate’ debacle that surfaced shortly after the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. Around 25 million customers in the U.S. will be entitled to $15 in cash or a free bumper case.
It seems early iPhone 4S adopters the world over have discovered a new issue with Apple’s latest handset. No, it has nothing to do with poor battery life, but rather a complete loss of signal for no apparent reason. To be clear, this isn’t a new “antennagate” — the issue does not occur while holding the device in a certain position — it’s a new problem that causes the device to lose its signal randomly. Users report they can be enjoying a full five-bar signal one minute, then be greeted by that frustrating “No Service” status the next.
Apple issued its first iOS 5 update to the public yesterday — an update which was released to fix “bugs affecting battery life” under the latest firmware, amongst other issues. Following the update, however, users have reported that their battery life has seen no improvement, and that iOS 5.0.1 comes with more bugs of its own.
The placement of the cellular and WiFi antennas between the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 couldn’t be more different, but that’s not stopping a small but vocal minority of iPad 2 owners to cry about an Antennagate of their own.
Despite having a brand new antenna, the Verizon iPhone 4 also has antenna issues when held in a “Death Hug,” iLounge has discovered.
The “Death Hug” is when the phone is cupped by both hands and held in landscape orientation — not exactly normal. Still, iLounge found it slows both cellular and WiFi reception when loading web pages. But as Steve Jobs pointed out in response to the original Antennagate controversy, holding any smartphone in your hands degrades the signal to some extent.
This doesn’t look like Antennagate redux. We can’t see the VZW Death Hug turning into another PR headache for Apple.
Yesterday, a firm named GlobalDirectParts put together an extensive five minute video showcasing what they say are the components of Apple’s next-generation iPhone.
While the video could have been an elaborate fake, GlobalDirectParts’ video gave a clear look at the charging port flex cable and a new design for the external antenna design. Unfortunately, the video was quickly pulled by YouTube because of a copyright claim by Apple, gifting the video with at least some tint of posthumous veracity.
A site called Smartphone Medic is now confirming the GlobalDirectParts video with several images of a new iPhone antenna, which has four black bands separating the antennas, compared to the current iPhone 4’s three. Since antenna attenuation (aka “death grip”) happens when you bridge these antennas with your hand, four separations would presumably mitigate the issue compared to three.
Apple’s deservedly racking up a lot of year-end awards as the New Year fast approaches — from the iPad being named Walt Mossberg’s gadget of the year to Steve Jobs garnering the Financial Times’ Person of the Year award — but you can end this one to the more ignominious trophy pile: CNN has just listed Antennagate as one of their ten biggest tech fails of 2010.
Even if Apple thought Antennagate was overblown, let’s face it: their last attempt to put the iPhone’s antenna into the exposed edges of the device didn’t work out so well, prompting a PR catastrophe so bad that Apple was actually forced to hold an emergency press conference… something they never do.
That in and of itself suggests pretty strongly that Apple’s going to try something new for the iPhone antenna in future handsets, and if a new patent is any indication, that new approach to hiding the iPhone’s antenna may be by hiding it under the iconic Apple logo.
What’s that you say? You missed your chance to get a free case from Apple for your iPhone 4 as part of their Antennagate free case giveaway? Well, good news: you can once again buy an official iPhone 4 bumper in a panoply of colors directly from Apple. It’ll cost you just $29.99.
Don’t have the scratch? Not to worry: you can still try your luck complaining to an Apple Store Genius about your iPhone 4’s attenuation issues. Really, though, isn’t it worth thirty bucks not to have to listen to some insufferable turtleneck lecture you on the physics of radio antennas for half an hour before he wearily sighs and condescends to hand over your free Apple-branded rubber band?