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TECHNOLOGY JULY 18, 2010

IPhone Defense Prompts New Debate


Article Video Comments (139) MORE IN TECH »

Email Print Save This Like 90 + More Text Most Popular in Tech
Google Hangs Up on Its Nexus One
By DON CLARK , NIRAJ SHETH , and GEOFFREY A. FOWLER
Amazon's E-Books Pull Ahead of Hardcovers
Steve Jobs's attempt to close the door on criticism of Apple Inc.'s latest iPhone ignited
IPhone Defense Prompts Debate
another debate: Are competing smartphones just as prone to reception problems or does
Apple have a unique design flaw? Nokia Siemens Seeks U.S., Japan
HTC, Samsung Rebut Apple's Claims
Mr. Jobs, in a news conference Friday,
conceded that reception on the new iPhone
4—which has antennas housed in an
Companies within this Article
exposed metal band around the phone's
outside edge—can be degraded by the way Apple Inc.(AAPL) 245.58 -4.32 7/19
a user holds the device. He also said the Motorola Inc.(MOT) 7.92 0.42 7/19
new iPhone drops slightly more calls than its
Research in Motion Ltd.(RIMM) 54.27 1.76 7/19
predecessor.

But Mr. Jobs insisted that the problem,


Steve Jobs's attempt to close the door on criticism of which occurs in areas with relatively weak Most Popular on Facebook
Apple's latest iPhone ignited another debate: Are
cellular coverage, affects few users and is
competing smartphones just as prone to reception You need to be logged into Facebook to see your
problems or does Apple have a unique design flaw? shared by other smartphones. Login
friends' recommendations
Don Clark, Spencer Ante & Eric Savitz discuss.
Apple showed videos of tests it conducted
Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers -
that indicated similar signal drops when phones by Research In Motion Ltd., HTC Corp. and
WSJ.com
Samsung Electronics are grasped by users. 445 people shared this.

His arguments were swiftly rejected by China Becomes World's Biggest Energy Consumer -
WSJ.com
competitors, including RIM and Motorola 956 people shared this.
Inc., which said they have deliberately
New Gel Cuts Risk of HIV Infection - WSJ.com
avoided Apple's approach of locating 361 people shared this.
antennas on the phone's edge. Some other
cellular-industry veterans also called Apple's Senate Set to Extend Unemployment Benefits -
WSJ.com
antenna design a mistake, noting that it
173 people shared this.
creates a uniquely sensitive spot on the
lower left side that causes signals to Facebook social plugin
View Full Image
degrade when touched with a hand or a
Geoffrey A. Fowler/The Wall Street Journal
finger.
Video
"The proof of that [it being a flaw] is that it is so easily fixed," said Martin Cooper, an engineer
who helped lead Motorola's development of handheld cellphones in the 1970s. He noted that
Apple has said adding a case largely addresses the attenuation issue, and predicted the
company will find a simple way to isolate antennas in future models to eliminate the problem
without a case.
Rex on Techs: Amazon Kindle News Hub: IBM
Antenna experts agree with Mr. Jobs's Apple, Beatles and Sales Triple Posts Mixed Q2
Apple CEO Jobs: Being the Best 2:40 Financial Results
"We are not perfect" statements that all cellphones are affected to 2:24 3:03
"We are not perfect"
0:36 some degree by a user's touch. For that
Apple CEO Steve Jobs
reason, designers typically go to
said Friday "we are not More in Tech
perfect" during a considerable lengths to minimize the
presentation at the company's Cupertino, Calif. antenna's contact with the hand, in some Spending Soars on Internet's Plumbing
headquarters.
cases adding duplicate antennas to reduce Amazon's E-Books Pull Ahead of Hardcovers
the potential signal weakening that
Google Hangs Up on Its Nexus One
engineers call attenuation.
Nokia Conducting Search for CEO
But some experts and competitors
More IBM Executive Shuffle Sets Up Race for CEO
questioned the validity of Apple's tests of
A Defiant Steve Jobs Confronts
competing products, which it posted on its
'Antennagate'
website. They said the science behind the Most Popular
Digits: Research in Motion, Motorola Respond
to Apple tests wasn't clear and the visual evidence—
Read Emailed Video Commented Searches
Apple Knew of iPhone Issue a drop in coverage bars on the phones'
Digits: Analysis of Apple's Press Conference screens—isn't very meaningful since the
software that measures signals isn't 1. Strapped Cities Rent Police, Janitors
Speakeasy: Late-Night TV iPhone Jokes
standardized.
Gizmodo to Cooperate in Lost iPhone Probe 2. Republicans See Path to Win Senate
Vote: How would you grade Jobs's response?Jason Lohn, a professor of electrical
Complete Coverage: iPhone 4 3. Oil Spill Puts a Target on BP's Back
engineering at Carnegie Mellon University,
said the competing phones Apple used in its 4. Opinion: Lost in Taxation
videos "don't have the antenna's bare metal exposed to the hand, so I'd be surprised if the
effect of the hand would be as pronounced as it was on the iPhone 4." 5. Opinion: A Climate Absolution?

Sanjay Jha, Motorola's co-CEO, said Sunday his company's tests showed that the amount Most Read Articles Feed
radio signals decline on the iPhone 4 when a user's hands touch the sensitive spot on the
phone's edge is significantly greater than the attenuation when other smartphones are held.

Not all experts think the iPhone 4's design is a bad idea. Haim Harel, president and founder Latest Tweets Follow
of wireless chip maker Magnolia Broadband, said Apple may have created a design "Xilinx Say New Chips Adept at Surviving Space Radiation
"breakthrough" if it can perfect external antennas for cellphones. http://bit.ly/cR5CrU"
53 min ago from WSJdigits (WSJ/Digits)
The approach, which saves space for other functions in a phone, was also praised by Franz
Birkner, CEO of antenna technology maker Rayspan Corp. "But the challenge of innovation is "Spending Soars on Internet's Plumbing
it inevitably comes with risk," he said. http://on.wsj.com/ckVvm6"
3 hrs 23 min ago from WSJPersonalTech (Personal
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment Sunday, referring back to Mr. Jobs's comments Technology)
Friday. The CEO said the problem had been "blown out of proportion" by the media, stating
"Nokia Conducting Search for New CEO
that about one half of 1% of users had complained about it. Still, Apple offered free cases or
http://on.wsj.com/9Gw6V7"
"bumpers" to alleviate the problem. 3 hrs 54 min ago from WSJPersonalTech (Personal
Technology)
Concern about the iPhone 4's reception was elevated last week when Consumer Reports said
it couldn't recommend the product after conducting its own reception tests. "Magazines on Mend http://on.wsj.com/9QXilw"
4 hrs 25 min ago from WSJPersonalTech (Personal
EXPERIENCE WSJ PROFESSIONAL
After Mr. Jobs's presentation Friday, the
Technology)
organization called the offer of free cases "a
Editors' Deep Dive: Apple Tries to Control
good first step" but said it isn't a long-term "Google's Gamble to Build Own Phone Fails to Pay Off
Damage
solution, and that it still didn't recommend http://on.wsj.com/acUTGz"
EWEEK
the phone. 4 hrs 56 min ago from WSJPersonalTech (Personal
Software Fix May Not Solve Antenna Technology)
Problems
Attensity360, which studies consumer
DARING FIREBALL
Opinion: No Way Apple's Done Responding to sentiment on blogs and other social media,
Issue said Mr. Job's press conference appeared to
VNUNET UNITED KINGDOM be a qualified success. In the two days after
Problems Reported With iOS 4.1 Update the press conference, the amount of
negative conversation about the iPhone 4 on
Access thousands of business sources not
available on the free web. Learn More such English-language sites fell 30%
compared with the prior seven days, the firm
found.

But some consumers aren't satisfied. Jason Wong, a 29-year-old college math lecturer in
Southern California, said he plans to return his iPhone 4. "I feel it is kind of stupid to have paid
$200 for a phone that I can't hold in the natural way," he said.

Mr. Jobs's move to pull his competitors into the debate was a flawed tactic, said Richard
Torrenzano, chief executive of Torrenzano Group, a strategic-communications firm in New
York whose corporate services include crisis management.

"It's totally the wrong approach to take," Mr. Torrenzano. "There's no benefit to attacking those
competitors."
Mr. Torrenzano was speaking Sunday from Italy on his iPhone 3, which he said he loves. He
also said he considers Mr. Jobs a great CEO. But he said the decision could hurt the
company's brand and stock value.

—Joann S. Lublin contributed to this article.

Write to Don Clark at don.clark@wsj.com, Niraj Sheth at niraj.sheth@wsj.com and Geoffrey A.


Fowler at geoffrey.fowler@wsj.com

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