HTC, Samsung Fire Back at Apple’s Reception Claims

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HTC and Samsung weren’t pleased with Apple saying their smartphones suffer from signal strength loss issues just like the iPhone 4, and are now claiming they don’t share the same problems. Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated signal bars dropping when HTC and Samsung phones are held similarly to the iPhone 4 during a press conference on July 16 to show that all smartphones can have signal issues.

“The reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones,” HTC chief financial officer Hui-Meng Cheng told the Wall Street Journal. “They (Apple) apparently didn’t give operators enough time to test the phone.”

Samsung defended its Omnia II, one of the phones Mr. Jobs used in his demonstration by saying it “hasn’t received significant customer feedbacks on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia II.”

Blackberry maker RIM, along with Nokia, responded to Apple’s press conference over the weekend, too. RIM CEOs Jim Balsille and Mike Lazaridis called the iPhone 4 antenna issue “Apple’s self-made debacle,” and called Mr. Jobs’s move to include their phones in his presentation unacceptable.

In its response, Nokia said that it has spent thousands of man hours researching antenna designs. “As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict,” the company said.

To address the signal strength loss issues for the iPhone 4, Apple released iOS 4.0.1 with a new signal bar formula designed to offer a more accurate strength representation, and promised free phone cases for all iPhone 4 owners through the end of September.

RIM had a response for that, too. “One thing is for certain,” Mr. Balsille and Mr. Lazaridis said. “RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity.”

Comments

geoduck

?RIM?s customers don?t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity.?

No, with my company BB I just have to be out in the open away from any electrical interference and make sure I hold the BB by the upper end. Then no problem.

This is a problem for all smart phones. Apple was just blunt enough to point out that the emperor had no clothes and now all the others are pissed.

RHindinger

Except for the fact that, as John Gruber points out this morning, HTC says, “Don’t hold it that way.” in their MANUAL!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Better headline: RIM, Jobs clash over smartphone cases.

Lee Dronick
ctopher

OT but I love the picture of the old school phones that accompanies this article. I can hear the “Miami Vice” theme in my head…

b9bot

Ah.. look at the smug phone makers now. Whining up a storm. If they had listened to Steve Jobs they would have understood better why customers didn’t come up and complain. They don’t have there antenna point marked like a target like Apple’s iPhone 4. If you remember in Steve’s speech, the line on the iPhone marked the spot or target on the iPhone.

All smart phones should be recalled!!!!
Where’s your answer HTC, Rim, Samsung, Nokia….!!!!! Analysts want to know why you don’t have an answer! Rim you have been in the business for 20 years, you didn’t know about this problem!!
Come on Rim, people want there free cases!!
Quick call out the F.B.I.!!!
How does it feel to be the target?
Where’‘s your answer, where all waiting?

Nemo

Pay close attention to what the other smartphone OEMs are saying.  Not one of them has yet said that its smartphones don’t experience the problem or attenuated reception that Apple demonstrated at the 7/16/10 press conference and on the webpage at http://www.apple.com/antenna/.  What does HTC say:  That the problem of attenuation [when in close proximity to human skin] is not a common problem.  Well, that won’t get HTC sued when the problem is proved on its smartphones, because it isn’t saying that its smartphones don’t experience the problem.  That the attenuation problem is a common problem is beyond peradventure, but the contrary statement is one that can be stated without risk legal liability. On the other hand, a direct refutation of Apple’s statement at the 7/16/10 press conference, which no smartphone OEM has made, would result in the plaintiffs’ product liability bar successfully suing the OEM that represented to the public that its smartphones don’t have the problem, once it is proved in court that they do.

Ethan

Yet the others don’t have near the complaint ratio that Apple does. Why? Well because Apple’s design causes it to happen when you hold the phone in the MOST BASIC way - pinched between bottom of the palm and inside of the fingers. SPeaking as a graduate of a design school Apple needs to do what every artist/designer has to do at some point: admit a bad design and move on. Not blame the other atrists in the Industrial Design class critique.

They forced function to follow form and blew it. Man up Apple!

ViewRoyal

The other mobile phone manufacturers are lying when they say that they don’t have reception problems similar to the iPhone.

For proof, watch these YouTube videos:

* Nokia E71: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amPG52DVQuk

* RIM BlackBerry Storm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHR4pkdlIjc

* Samsung I9000 Galaxy S: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LROTHrTR92k

* HTC Evo Signal Attenuation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pj2YBYTbag

JDAC

I must say that it was a bad move for Apple and old man Jobs to point the finger at other phones. That fact is Apple messed up on their design and now they are looking for ways out. I had the Apple 3G but turned it back in after signal loss, dropped calls, and the lack of reliability in AT&T’s data service. I have since had the Droid Eris and found that I have never experienced any signal loss or dropped calls. The 3G services picked up by Verizon is far superior than that of AT&T. Bottom line, Jobs hurried and it came back to bite him, plain and simple. Anyone who argues that is either a Apple fanboy or is in plain denial.

marcsten

Well I am not a big cell phone fan, as everyone seems to drop lots of calls and the service contracts border on extortion. So I think Steve is probably right. BUT, that said, he should have taken the bullet and offered a fix, cover or whatever it is, rather than whining about how everyone else is just as guilty. This had the ring of the driver who gets pulled over for speeding complaining that everyone else is doing it too.

Nemo

Dear Ethan:  Only one manufacturer has released stats for complaints.  That is HTC.  I will say more on the credibility of HTC’s report.  But Apple is reporting only .55% call to Apple support for iPhone 4 reception problems of any kind.  That is a very small number and is not sufficient to identify any design defect.  Typically manufacturers—and you know this being a student of design—would need to see more than five percent complaints, before considering that there might be a hardware defect. 

As for HTC’s reported stat of .001 . . . . Well, have you ever tried to get support on an HTC phone.  It is a misery, while with Apple you just call an 800 number and don’t get any run around.  So, assuming that HTC is giving honest numbers, its cumbersome support may depress reports.  Also, the number of Eris phones compared even to the newly released iPhone 4 is small.  And for Eris, attenuation caused by placing a hand on the wrong position on the HTC phones isn’t recognized as problem, though it is a problem.  Why?  The sensitive area of their phones is not on display, as it is for the iPhone 4, so users of HTC phone cause attenuation of reception on HTC phones by covering the sensitive area of the phone with their hand, which may result in dropped calls, but don’t even recognize it as the problem, so, of course, they don’t complain about it.

Actually, the design of the iPhone 4’s antenna is an advantage, because you know where its sensitive area is and can easily hold the phone when using it to avoid the problem.  That is a design advantage, not a defect, that you don’t have on other smartphones, all of which have the same problem.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo: One problem with the Evo video is that its shows the Android phone going to one bars. You can usually still make a call with zero bars. The problem comes in when there are zero bars and an “x” over the leftmost bars. That’s when you can’t make a call.

BTW, the right way to do this video is Settings—> About this Phone—> Status and watch the dBm reading.

Ethan

Nemo - A design choice that promotes the issue to the forefront so users see the problem is not a good design choice. Forcing them to change how the hold the phone for no beneficial reason is not valid. It’s not like this is raising environmental issues to get users to adopt recycling behaviors. They could have placed it to minimize the issue but they smacked it on the outside of the whole edge. Forcing function to follow the form-in this case it was a failure. The user must adapt to the device. That’s not user friendly.

Nemo

Dear Ethan:  And hiding the problem by not disclosing the location of the smartphone’s sensitive area is a better idea?  And not letting the consumer know that there are ways of holding the phone that will either improve or degrade reception is the better approach.  I don’t think so.  The approach of the other smartphone OEMs has depended on deception to hide a common problem, that is, they’ve never disclosed, except for Nokia, that their phones have sensitive areas, where holding the phone attenuation reception. 

And Ethan you are wrong in implying that the iPhone 4’s external antenna increases the problem.  It does not.  It simply shows you where you can touch the iPhone 4 to cause the problem of attenuated reception; it does not make that problem worse.  Jobs established that by producing stats that show the iPhone 4 drops<1 more call per 100 calls than the iPhone 3GS, which every one agrees has no reception problem, other than the common attenuation of reception problem when in close proximity to human skin that all smartphones share. 

The user must adapt to the device with all smartphones; it is just that the iPhone 4 is the first phone where they know it and know how to most effectively make that adaption, which is both more honest and an improvement in that they now know how to hold their iPhone to avoid the problem.

Nemo

Bosco:  If you don’t like the Evo video, John Gruber at Daring Fireball has come up with a bunch of others, which show the common, industry-wide problem of attenuated reception on smartphones that Consumer Reports recommended.  See http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/07/19/consumer-reports-recommended-list.

ethan

nemo, the most common way to hold a phone is along the edges. It’s not good design to slap the problem there! If apple was so truthful about it then why did the marketing show holding it in the position that causes the issue? Truthful or untruthful is just spin by you and apple after a bad Q/A process has been shown. Sorry but your shoveling crap here trying to cover for them and somehow make the design flaw an intentional statement of truth.

Nemo

It is also common to hold a smartphone by placing your hand across the back toward its bottom, which is exactly where most smartphone OEMs place their antennas.  However, I will allow that is because the FCC wants to minimize exposure to radiation, which, of course, is another advantage of the iPhone 4’s antenna design.  Spin or not, it is an advantage to know exactly where not to touch you phone to avoid the problem of attenuated reception.  Nokia is the only other manufacturer to honestly give their users that knowledge.

ethan

great you know where the antenna is. It is still a failure as a design choice due to being where you hold it to make a call. To try and present the fact that apple telling you that it isthere somehow is better than minimizing our ability to easily generate the problem smacks of grasping at straws. It’s a bad design choice and they won’t admit it. Instead they promote it as a desin feature.

The iphone - kill your phone differently.

Nemo

Well, Ethan no one has been able to minimize the problem, though the other smartphone OEMs, except for Nokia, have hidden the problem so that a user would think that it is another problem, such as a network failure.  The problem arises from laws of physics for which no one, including Apple, has found a solution.  And the location of the antenna at the bottom of almost every smartphone that I am aware of means that the problem will arise as you hold those phones naturally.  So the next best thing is, as is true for the iPhone 4 and Nokia, is to let your users know where the sensitive point on the antenna is located so that they can avoid touching it.

But you are repeating yourself Ethan, which means that my reply is also repetitious.  So try to come up with something new, for this is the second time that I’ve dealt with your false contention that the iPhone 4 is flawed because of how you might hold it to make a call.  You can hold the iPhone 4 naturally and easily avoid the gap, even if you are a lefty.  A lefty would just have to hold the iPhone 4 a little higher, but, of course, they have to do that, hold then a little higher, for the vast majority of other smartphones, which have their antennas in the bottom of the phone—and no one has ever though that was unnatural.

Come up with something else Ethan.  I’ve batted that batted that nonsense about not being able to hold the iPhone 4 naturally out of the park for the second time.

ethan

nemo, I think it’s you coming up with the same old effort to defend apple in everything they do. Like I said apple is the one who decided to advertise the antenna as a feature, they must then take it on the chin when the design is flawed. If they want credit they have to take blame as well. You offered no proof that other designs have the same rate of the issue, just using the same tired innuendo that the others might so give apple a pass. If it was not a design flaw then why is apple offering to take them back or free bumpers? They know it’s a flaw by their actions and just won’t admit it.

all your doing is making up benefits to validate the design choice flaw.

Nemo

I did offer proof (http://www.apple.com/antenna/), but, since then, the proof is stacking up like cord wood for winter.  See http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/07/19/consumer-reports-recommended-list and today Hot Forum Topic at this paper, http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/forums/viewthread/78971/, where many member quote the relevant sections of the instruction manuals from competing smartphones that describe the problem of attenuated reception when in close proximity to human skin, reveal the sensitive spot where the antenna is located, and instruct the user not to touch that spot to avoid poor reception, shortened battery life, and excessive exposure to radiation.  The phones manuals on display include Android, Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, HTC.

And then there is RIM.  You remember RIM with its vaunted testing facilities and years of experience building antennas that are designed to avoid the problem of attenuated reception.  Well, it seems that RIM’s brand, spanking new Blackberry 9800 is a victim of, yes, the death grip, which was reported by Electronista (http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/07/19/new.blackberry.may.already.have.iphone.4.problem/).  Electronista, YouTube, and many other had video of the latest and greatest Blackberry falling victim to the death grip.  I saw the video, but you can’t, if you haven’t seen it already, because RIM ordered the video taken down on YouTube and every publication, immediately following Electronista’s report and video showing RIM most advanced smartphone, the 9800, falling victim to the death grip.

If you need any more proof let me know, because now that Apple has opened the flood gates, videos are popping up all over the Net.  In fact, it is far too many to keep track of or count.

Ethan

Nemo, I’ll disregard apple’s link as it’s biased marketing. Why would I trust their research? Their goal is to hide the flaw in a crowd.

The forums posts show the danger spots of others to be much less obvious than the position Apple chose which requires only a normal grip to mess it up. They exacerbated the potential rather than minimizing it with their design choice.

The Blackberry link has a bunch of could’s and maybe’s for a not-released-yet product. Maybe we should wait until we know it’s the final design? As for the pull down of the vids I don’t agree with that. Same as I don’t agree with the iDevice lockdown, nebulas app store approval process, or their developer language/cross compiler limitations.

Sadly, a little less ego and more humility (a sorry, free bumpers, buy backs for some customers) could have minimized this for them 2 weeks ago, but that’s not the Apple way. They could have then fixed the flaw in a refresh in a few months. Bad management all the way around.

Excellent opinion:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/38312762

I’ll let you have the last word as I know you like it.

Nemo

Ethan:  You and fellow, who posts on these pages, Bosco, sound like kindred spirits.  You don’t trust Apple?  But you did credit HTC’s self serving report of its rate of complaint about reception on its smartphones.  Well, Apple knows that its demonstrations and stats will be tested in court, whereas HTC can say whatever it wants.  As long as it avoids the magic words that its phones don’t experience the same problem, it won’t be sued.  If for no other reason than that Apple knows what it says will be tested in court, I think that we must credit what its says on the issue of iPhone its competitors’ problem with attenuated reception.

As I said earlier, if you doubt that the sensitive spots on the other phones aren’t affected by a normal grip, go to YouTube, where you will find more than plenty of videos showing exactly that.  And John Gruber has done some of the work for you at http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/07/19/consumer-reports-recommended-list.

And don’t worry about the Blackberry 9800 videos, for, unless RIM’s engineers can pull off a miracle or present a phone with a telescoping antenna or produce a phone so large that no one will want it, you will be seeing those videos again, once the 9800 is released.

So Apple’s strategy of hiding a “flaw” among the common “flaw” of the others is not only brilliant strategy, it is the truth.

Intruder

So, to make sure we all understand…

Apple = biased marketing, because all they want to do is hide a flaw
HTC, SAMSUNG, RIM, NOKIA = unbiased truth, because they would never fail to admit that there is an attenuation issue with their hardware, in the face of evidence that shows otherwise (and also supported by physics)

I guess I should ignore the fact that my BB Bold loses 4 bars when I hold it normally in my right hand in areas (such as my office) that have weaker signals.

Your apparent (read obvious) dislike of all things Apple is tainting your view.

ethan

ah okay I have to respond: 1 macbook pro, 1 white flat imac, 1 timecapsule, 1airport express, 1 apple tv, 3 ipods and that is just current.  I’m not including my old g3, graphite tower, the first ipod, the mac mini I bought my mom or the imac I sold off. Send me your email address and i’ll send you a picture of my current stuff.  Unlike some I can like apple and still be critical and call them on mistakes. Just because I don’t like the iDevice eco system does not mean that I think os x is crap. Sorry try again nemo.

ethan

apologies to nemo, last post was directed at intruder

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