When I think of the word accessory and all that it entails, there are many related words that come to mind — optional, not necessary, not needed. The purpose of an accessory should not be to make something that would be otherwise useless into something that is usable. This unfortunately seems to be happening with the new Apple iPhone.

Part of the design of the new iPhone is that the antenna is on the sides of the phone itself — the very place most likely to be touched by a person attempting to make a call on the phone. There is a significant issue that has arisen wherein people who are left handed who hold the phone while trying to talk have difficulty doing so due to the way that they naturally hold the phone.

The metal bands surrounding the sides of the iPhone 4 also acts as antennas for the device, and the signal drop problem seems to appear when a user touches both of the black lines on the phone’s metal sides towards the bottom, according to corroborated users reports.

How easy is it to get your signal to drop by touching the wrong area of the side of the phone? Watch this video to give you an idea :

You would think that a major company like Apple would respond by saying that they are working on some sort of a fix, and that they are sorry for causing any sort of inconvenience. Rather, the official statement from Apple as supplied to Engadget reads a little differently:

Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

Notice in the Engadget article, there is an e-mail from Steve Jobs instructing the person that e-mailed him to “Just avoid holding it that way” and that all would be well if he were to do that. As it turns out, I was already planning on getting a bumper for my phone because I am terrified of dropping the phone at all — and I am a pretty clumsy person sometimes.

Nevertheless, for the more graceful people in the world, a bumper should not be necessary for a phone to function in the normal mode of operation. This is completely unacceptable — and yet, I’m still buying one — go figure.

2 Comments

  1. I think this was all designed by Apple to squeeze another $30 out of us in unnecessary/necessary bumper purchases.

    Sure, we can “hold the phone in a different way” to avoid the $30 “bumper convenience fee” — but I don’t believe for a second that the Apple engineers didn’t know all along a metal antenna was going to lose attenuation when a sweaty palm is placed against it.

    This is “bumper buy” engineering at its worst!