Apple hit with lawsuit over iPhone 4 antenna woes

Jul 01, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
An owner of the new iPhone4, films television journalists covering the release of the iPhone4 in June, 2010 in New York. Apple is hiring antenna engineers to work on its iPhone, the latest generation of which has triggered lawsuits from buyers upset because certain grips choke signal strength.

Apple is hiring antenna engineers to work on its iPhone, the latest generation of which has triggered lawsuits from buyers upset because certain grips choke signal strength.

A posting online at jobs.apple.com said the company is looking for experienced engineers "able to design antennas suitable for wireless handheld devices with excellent radiation performance."

Apple's 4 launched a week ago with blockbuster sales and complaints by some that cupping the smartphones in a way that covers the lower left corner strangles telecom service .

The has silver edging designed as part of the system to improve signal strength.

Apple responded to signal strength complaints by telling owners of its latest generation iPhone to be mindful of how they hold the handsets.

The problem could be fixed by moving one's hand or encasing iPhones in rubber "bumper" frames that Apple sells for 30 dollars.

"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," Apple said in a statement.

"This is a fact of life for every wireless phone."

Apple advised users who experience the signal problem to "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."

By Thursday, reports surfaced of iPhone 4 buyers unsatisfied with Apple's response filing lawsuits in the United States against the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Macintosh computer maker.

A lawsuit filed in the state of Maryland wants Apple and exclusive US iPhone telecom service provider AT&T to pay for "unlawful and unconscionable conduct" including "fraud, negligence and deceptive trade practices."

California law firm Kershaw, Cutter and Ratinoff used a freshly redesigned website to recruit disenchanted iPhone 4 buyers for a lawsuit against Apple.

"Thousands of people are really unhappy with their new iPhones and Apple's response to the antenna issue," the law firm said in a blog post. "We told our audience we wanted to hear from them and boy did we."

The law firm said it got 1,400 emails in a single day and that 98 percent of the missives "overwhelmingly expressed discontent."

Antenna concerns did not deter the hordes that descended on Apple stores, with the firm reporting that it sold more than 1.7 million of the smartphones in the first three days on the market.

"I think these issues will sort themselves out," Gartner technology analyst Van Baker told AFP this week. "It is a very impressive phone."

Features luring people to the iPhone 4 include high-definition screens and "FaceTime," which uses a forward facing camera to enable video chat.

The original iPhone launched in 2007 brought smartphones to the masses. has sold more than 50 million of the in the past three years.

But its latest version enters a crowded market full of rivals boasting bigger screens and running on Google's open-source Android operating system, which is more accessible to developers than Apple's tightly guarded system.

Sales of a white iPhone 4 model have been delayed to the second half of July because of unspecified manufacturing difficulties.

The new iPhone will be available in 18 other countries in July and 24 more in August.

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User comments : 9

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HaveYouConsidered
5 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2010
I recall the old "blue screen of death" mantra that Apple and their cohorts used against Microsoft when bashing the earlier Windows NT versions. They claimed then that an intermittently non-functioning product was the fault of the vendor.

Now with their product they claim it's normal or the fault of how the end user is using the product.

Argh matey! Me thinks thar be a wee bit of hypocrisy in Cupertino.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2010
I don't see why Apple doesn't just start giving out the "bumper frames" for free. What's a $15 item (which is what I assume it costs them wholesale) compared to the profit margins on a $500 device?
maxcypher
5 / 5 (3) Jul 01, 2010
I agree with PE. I don't think this class action law suit has much merit, but offering a deal on the covers couldn't hurt matters.
Yelmurc
not rated yet Jul 01, 2010
A lot of phones have this issue, but normally not this severe. The severity of this issue may very well be software related. I've seen it on my iPhone 4 but it doesn't make the phone unusable. If it is a hardware issue I agree free bumpers would be nice. (though I don't think I'd need one).

The lawsuit will get thrown out once it reaches court. And out of those 1400 emails I wonder how many people actually own a iPhone 4, and how many just sent in emails because they are the same people who attack Apple at every chance they get.
shinji856
5 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2010
exactly... when people were throwing Wiimotes through their TV's, Nintendo sent out free covers and new wrist straps. I'm sure Apple can afford to hand out a free case.
Bob_Kob
5 / 5 (1) Jul 01, 2010
It just makes me think, didn't anyone actually test this thing out?
ply
4 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2010
Okay, I got a iPhone 4 on Tuesday and have actually tried the death grip. Sometimes I see a drop of 1 or 2 bars, other times I see no change. I've never lost a connection completely. I think this issue is WAY over hyped. Maybe it's different with other phones or other hands. I couldn't be happier with my new phone.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Jul 02, 2010
@ply,

It probably makes a difference whether you're in high-signal or weak-signal areas. If 1 or 2 bars is ALL you've got to begin with, then a drop of 1 or 2 bars means total loss of signal.
akotlar
not rated yet Jul 03, 2010
The problem is that the new antenna drops ~24db as a result of contact with your hand. That is ~2-3x as much as previous iPhones. Apple is lying about the issue. This lawsuit seems completely reasonable, because the company misstated the capabilities of this device, and as it is advertised as a fully functioning phone, it is an incomplete product. They should be sending out free bumpers to any users who experience the issue; meaning all users in lower signal areas, or any users interested in advertised 3g data rate.

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