Motorola Jabs at iPhone 4 with New Ad

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Motorola began running an ad in newspapers on Wednesday that’s clearly targeted at Apple’s iPhone 4 and free case offer. The ad features the Droid X and implies that the smartphone doesn’t suffer from signal strength loss issues.

Motorola’s ad states

At Motorola, we believe a customer shouldn’t have to dress up their phone for it to work properly. That’s why the DROID X comes with a dual antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like to make crystal clear calls without a bulky phone jacket. For us it’s just one of those things that comes as a given when you’ve been making mobile phones for over 30 years.

The ad, available at Motorola’s Facebook page, claims that users can hold the phone anyway they want without having to worry about cell signal strength loss — an issue for the iPhone 4 that ultimately led to an Apple press conference.

In the case of the iPhone 4, holding the phone so the lower left corner is covered by your hand can cause the signal strength bars to drop. To appease complaints, Apple has begun shipping free cases to iPhone 4 owners.

Apple claimed almost all smartphones suffer from signal loss when your hand covers the antenna. To back up that statement, Apple posted a Web page demonstrating signal strength loss in several popular smartphones. Motorola’s claims don’t, however, jibe with Apple’s antenna performance Web page that shows the Droid X signal bars dropping when the phone is held in a natural position.

Regardless of whether or not Motorola’s Droid X performance claims are accurate, the ad is still clever and will likely go over well with smartphone owners that dislike Apple’s products.

Comments

Mark Olson

Hmmm.  Nokia took Motorola’s market share away years ago so now they come after Apple..  If I wanted a Motorola phone.. I would have bought one… Love the new iphone.. AT&T service is still the only sub par performance that matter’s.. there are area’s I could have a 3 meter ant. sticking out of my pocket and it wouldn’t make a difference.

mactoid

OMG!  3-meter ants?  Good-lord man, call an exterminator TODAY!

:-D

Tiger

Is that an ant in your pocket or, oh wait. Not going to finish that.

geoduck

Is that a 3-meter ant in your pocket or…..

vasic

This may well backfire on Motorola, especially since, in addition to Apple’s very explicit video of Droid X, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that show exactly the same performance problems (from three bars to zero with the ‘grip of death’).

The fundamental difference between the iPhone and all other smartphones with attenuation problem is, if the problem really bothers you with your iPhone, you can always get a case. With others, no matter what case you put on it, the signal will drop if you hold it the wrong way, due to the extremely bad antenna design.

Tiger

In other words, iPhone owners who like it better put that ring on it.

The rest are just S.O.L.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Way to go Apple. You make a phone which is easy to make it drop calls holding it quite naturally, especially if you hold it in your left hand. And no, that doesn’t just affect lefties. You then post a video of a guy practically leg humping the Droid X with the palm of his hand and you show bars, not decibels of attenuation. You imply that a call would have been dropped, when the 1.5x as many people who buy Android phones instead of iPhones these days know that you have signal unless there is an “x” in the bars. Many also know that you can get the signal level with three or four taps to the settings.

Keep the dishonesty going while you redesign the white iPhone 4 to not have the antenna is such close proximity to the user’s flesh.

vasic

Brad,

You may not have heard (from all the hysteria about the ‘Antennagate’), but the dropped call rate for the iPhone 4 is pretty much the same as for all of these competitors (including Droid X). And that is WITHOUT the case.

As for the ‘leg-humping’, I don’t know which video you’re talking about, but in Apple’s, as well as many YouTube videos, the hand holding Droid X is holding it precisely the way vast majority holds their cellphone when making a call. I really don’t know how you do it, but what I’ve seen in the streets confirms the videos.

You must be getting a great kick out of irking forum members here by baiting them this way. Surely, you can’t genuinely believe in what you wrote?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So you hold your smart phone with a finger across the screen? Do you think maybe you might be dropping calls by accidently hitting the “end call” button?

http://images.apple.com/antenna/images/droidx-holding-20100723.jpg

Also, I know many of you are absolutely brainwashed, but I don’t question that you genuinely believe what you write. I expect the same level of respect. TYVM.

vasic

Brad,

At the risk of appearing (to at least some forum readers) to be feeding a troll (I don’t think I am), I’ll continue the discussion.

It seems that there’s a disconnect between what you’re saying and the image you’re linking to. The picture shows a hand holding a cellphone in a manner most people hold cellphones. I’m sure some people pinch their phone lightly on its sides, by the tips of their fingers, but vast majority grips it firmly, wrapping their fingers around the edges (to avoid dropping it accidentally).

I’ve looked at many videos on YouTube. These were posted months ago (way before iPhone 4 ‘Antennagate’) with users complaining, and some fuming, over severe signal drop. Many phones are affected, from Samsung, HTC, Motorola, RIM, LG, Sony-Ericsson, Nokia… I can’t imagine that these people were purposely trying to grip their phone in some awkward way in order to show signal loss, so that they could somehow explain away a problem of a phone that wasn’t even released yet.

In your posts, you have consistently come across as an intelligent person. That is the reason I was sure you couldn’t seriously think that all other phones are just fine, and somehow only Apple’s device suffers from the laws of physics.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Vasic,

If you don’t think I’m a troll, then there is no need to mention it. We can disagree and be civil, regardless of ho uncivil other participants here want to be.

Another part of civil discussion is not mis-stating someone’s opinion. I recognize that you can hold other phones and attenuate the antenna. Apple’s videos measure this with bars, a measurement that they have themselves admitted can be misleading because they misled with it from the beginning. The precise way a consumer can measure is the delta of dBm. The dBm measurement is available in the “Settings—> About Phone—> Status” on Android phones. A similar measurement is available on iPhone. Note it before and after applying your favorite death grip to compute the delta.

Many, many YouTube videos showed attenuation of iPhone 4 in the range of -30 dBm when gently held with finger touching the gap. This is significant enough attenuation to actually drop calls in low to medium signal areas. For videos of other phones to make the same point, they would need to show similar attenuation. Apple’s video of the Droid X does not. In fact, it doesn’t even go to the numbers. It attains the attenuation it measures in “bars” with fingers placed inside the edge of the touch screen. Do you hold your iPhone with fingers touching, for example, the “Speaker” button?

I’ll bring up another Apple lie in all this… It’s a statistical lie, and is a variation of the old joke, “Statistically speaking, the average human being has one tit and one ball.” Apple claims (completely off-topic of the gap problem) that the iPhone 4 suffers from less that 1 more dropped call per 100 calls than the 3GS. That is an average. So while many customers claim to not getting as many dropped calls as before, the average has to be made up by customers who are getting a lot more dropped calls. You wonder why they are upset?

I think that instead of rising to Apple’s defense automatically, you should demand that they be truthful and sincere rather than obfuscating their problems. The naked external antenna design is a problem. It presents bigger measurable problems that competing phones’ internal antenna designs.

Nemo

Note that once again, Motorola does not expose itself to legal jeopardy by making the false statement that its smartphones, including the new Droid X, don’t suffer the same problem to approximately the same extent.

As for this holding naturally and not naturally crap.  And expert in the field has shown that the iPhone 4 reception under all the various grips is actually superior to the iPhone 3G, which we agree has no defect in the design of its antenna.  See http://www.antennasys.com/antennasys-blog/2010/7/14/iphone-4-meets-the-gripofdeathinator.html. 

And while one can try to spin it till the sun goes down, how Apple is holding the Droid X in its demo is perfectly natural, or if it be odd, it is no more odd than the “deathgrip.”

ctopher

I’m still waiting for Bosco’s “AO” (Android Onslaught) to kill Apple’s business. When should I sell my shares?

ctopher

By the way, did anyone hear the new BP CEO in NPR this morning? He sounded like Steve Jobs. He talked about what the entire industry will learn from the oil spill. Sounds like “no oil well is perfect.” smile

graxspoo

I love Apple, and I own many of their products, but Bosco is right, there are two issues involved with the iPhone 4’s antenna problems:

1) Physical objects like hands and heads absorb radio frequencies. This is the issue that Jobs rightly pointed out is a problem for the entire industry, and the problem that is demonstrated in the videos on Apple’s site.

2) Unlike any other cell-phone, the iPhone 4 has two exposed metallic antennas, that can be bridged.

Issue 2 is a design flaw in the iPhone 4. Apple doesn’t want to talk about this issue, so they talk about issue 1 (classic misdirection and blame spreading.) However, they simultaneously try to mitigate issue 2 by giving out free bumpers.

This would be like your doctor saying “Your health problems are all in your head, but take these free antibiotics anyway.” What? If you think about the bumper program, its clear that they aren’t telling us the whole story.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@ctopher… It appears that Android handsets are now selling at about 2x the rate of iPhone handsets. Android went from 0 to 2x iPhone in the span of 9 months.

Reference.

Nemo

Issue 2 isn’t a defect.  As has been demonstrated, the iPhone 4’s reception is superior, at least on average to the iPhone 3G, which we agree has no defect in its antenna, for every condition of grip, including a grip that bridges the critical gap in the lower left hand corner.  See http://www.antennasys.com/antennasys-blog/2010/7/14/iphone-4-meets-the-gripofdeathinator.html.  Apple’s problem is that while the it does not experience attenuated reception to any greater extent, the iPhone 4 does experience it somewhat differently, but in may conditions of grips that difference results in superior reception to the iPhone 3GS, which is another phone without defect in its antenna.  See http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2 (?From my day of testing, I’ve determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I’ve never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it’s readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use.?).  Issue 2 is a matter of perception, not of design.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Um Nemo, how can the iPhone 4’s reception be better than the 3GS (I think this is what you mean when you write “3G” because you interchange them inconsistently)?

Apple has stated that the iPhone 4 has less than 1% more dropped calls than the 3GS. So the phone with better reception seems to actually drop more calls.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your argument, but it doesn’t seem to square with Apple’s statement. Please clarify.

Nemo

So Google issued a press release that said Android is outselling the iPhone 4.  Well, since Android is in markets and on carriers were the iPhone 4 isn’t, that, if true—and forgive me for doubting Google—, isn’t a surprising or even interesting result.  I wonder how well Android does against the iPhone 4 in markets where they compete on the same carriers, such as the UK.

The real problem for Google is that, if your just counting Android phones, that includes China.  But in China, Biadu is loaded on Android phones, and the marketplace is a specific Chinese marketplace, not the Android MarketPlace, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the Chinese are branching their own version of Android, which they can do since Google can’t threaten to eject their phones from the Android Marketplace or refuse to provide Google’s updates to Android.  The Chinese firms have enough money and their government’s support to go their own way with Android, creating their own app store, and loading their own non-Google service on their Chinese Android phones.  So Google has done all the work but won’t get any of the revenue, much less profit.

My question is going forward, do we count Chinese Android phones among Google’s total?  Google is probably doing that.  But isn’t that misleading, since Google doesn’t have any of its services on those Chinese Android phones and isn’t making any revenues from them?  Google’s devil’s bargain with China and that it has to open-source Android, which has a Linux kernel that is licensed under the GPL, is coming back to bite it in the ass.

Steve Jobs’ decision to stick to his terms for the iPhone 4, even if that sacrifices market share, rather than pursue China at any cost, is starting to look wise, while Google’s bargain with China is looking both corrupt and foolish.  For what does market share matter, when it results only in costs without any profit?

But when is an Android phone really an Android phone?  A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but there are roses, and then there are phones where Google does the development work and doesn’t get any of the money.  And one days those phones in China could be well in excess of a hundred million quasi Android phones.

So once again, how do you count Android phones?

Nemo

No Bosco, I am referring to two different studies.  Anandtech used the iPhone 3GS for its comparison of reception, whereas Mr. Webb compared the iPhone 3G’s reception to the iPhone 4’s reception.

Nemo

And Bosco, Mr. Webb in his study, which was a more rigorous study by an MIT trained expert in antenna design, who has such an impressive CV that he has gone into my lists of potential expert witnesses, found that for all conditions of grip, the iPhone 4’s reception was on average superior to that of the iPhone 3G.

Nemo

And the clarification is easy enough.  In Mr. Webb’s testing, in the first part, neither the iPhone 3G or the iPhone 4 were tested with cases.  As Mr. Jobs opined the small difference in the rate of dropped calls may have resulted from the iPhone 3G and 3GS getting a slight benefit in reception from being used with cases. 

The benefit, in any even, appears to be weak, whereas the improvement from the iPhone 4 being used with a case is large, so that with a case, the iPhone 4 gets much better reception that either the iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS.  Without a case the iPhone 4 has significantly better reception than either of its predecessors, but with a case it has much better reception than either of its predecessors.  See http://www.antennasys.com/antennasys-blog/2010/7/14/iphone-4-meets-the-gripofdeathinator.html.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, you’ve still failed to account for Apple’s statement that the iPhone 4 drops less than 1% more calls than the 3GS. Obfuscate all you like, but one juror will have noticed that and sink your case.

Nemo

Either I didn’t make my self clear, or you weren’t paying attention.  Since we don’t know for certain exactly what is going on in the field, we can only speculate.  But Jobs’ speculation that the previous iPhone were being used with cases, which confer a slight buy observable advantage in reception, while the nearly all the iPhone 4 were not being used with cases, is as good a speculation as any.  Mr. Webb’s experimental design, however, controlled for that variable by comparing the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4 without cases to produce two sets of measurements, which showed the iPhone 4 to be superior for all conditions of grip.  He then compared the iPhone 4 with a Bumper to the iPhone 3G without a case to get another set of contrasting measurements.  I can’t make it much plainer than that, but for greater clarification see:  http://www.antennasys.com/antennasys-blog/2010/7/14/iphone-4-meets-the-gripofdeathinator.html.

FlyingJoe

Is there an equivalent rule out there like Godwyn’s law (where there’s always someone willing to degenerate a forum discussion by invoking Hitler), by comparing any writer with an opposite opinion as a Fanboy?

I know many of you are absolutely brainwashed

.

Let’s call it “Bosco’s Guarantee”

I think whenever someone commits the dishonest and cowardly act of dismissing others this way, their posts should just get erased automatically, because… who needs them?  There is nothing else that person can say after that that would be worth listening to, knowing this is how he or she screens their information and participates in conversations.

Does that lump me in the same group? That’s the chance I’ll have to take!  If you post, you should not summarily dismiss others who respond with other opinions.

Back to business… I have three cell phones (don’t ask) and it’s amazing how easy it is for me to make the bars drop on all of the phones, including on my Blackberry Bold 9700 using what I consider a natural grip, also demonstrated on the Droid X video. 

The iPhone 4 comes on sale here on Friday in Canada, and since I’ve gotten to see so much information on how the phone handles signals, I’m not concerned at all in buying it.  This is the best informed I’ve ever been on performance issues of a phone prior to buying it! And from what I’ve seen and heard, I’m confident that the iPhone handles the signal attenuation aspect better than these other phones which have been unexamined for so long.

Looking forward to it!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So what you seem to be saying Nemo is that the iPhone 4 needs to be used with a case. And you still don’t have any issues with how Apple demonstrates attenuation of competing phones in their videos. The issue with iPhone 4’s antenna gap is not attenuation, per se, it’s dropped calls. It’s massive attenuation with a common, reasonable grip in low to medium signal areas.

Nemo, you’re just becoming as silly as Apple. Deny there is a problem even though a whole assortment of YouTubers and bloggers and respected tech news sites have clearly demonstrated that there is one. Claim it’s not just your problem by showing other phones that show different attenuation with grip, but fail to mention the amount of attenuation, an amount easily noted on all phones in question. Sure this kind of hocus pocus argument will fly with some people, mostly people who want confirmation of their pro-Apple bias. But the whole thing doesn’t add up.

Nemo, I don’t even care about the legal aspects. Lawyers will file suits or not file suits regardless of the facts. The legal side is all one giant pissing match anyway. What I do care about is a little truthiness in the debate. If explanations don’t match observations, there is necessarily an attenuation of thruthiness. You can’t escape that. You need to come up with better explanations that match observations.

RonMacGuy

Guys, PLEASE just let Bosco say whatever he wants to say and IGNORE HIM.  You guys just keep feeding him, and that makes him stronger.  If you ignore him, maybe he will just go away.  Doubtful, but possible.

graxspoo

Nemo, check out this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgouzUMlQpY

A tiny piece of paperclip causes the iPhone 4 to drop from 4 bars to 1 bar. Bridging the two antennas clearly negatively effects reception quite drastically. No other phone on the market has this weakness.

In the first article, they conclude “Gripping the Naked iPhone 4 certainly had a strong negative effect on the data rates, both upload and download… Apple: you really need to give every iPhone 4 owner a free bumper.” Which is essentially agreeing with what I said. Apple is saying “Everyone has this problem” while simultaneously trying to mitigate a problem that only they have.

Similarly, the author of the second article says “If you add a bumper case to the iPhone 4, the signal strength drop from holding the device is on par if not better than other phones…” i.e. if you DON’T have a bumper, the drop is WORSE than other phones. He then happily says how great the phone is with the bumper in place. Maybe, but you don’t need a bumper on other phones, which is Motorola’s point in their ad.

Now, maybe you’re a ‘glass is half full’ sort of person when it comes to Apple, and since the antenna is better than on the previous iPhones, you’ll just take your free bumper, and forget about it. But, from my perspective, they had the technology to make a really great phone, and they blew it because of too great an emphasis on the purity of aesthetic design. So, now the phone is beautiful, but we all have to wear bumpers. Couldn’t they have coated the phone? Couldn’t they have shielded the antenna somehow? A little paint, or a layer of plastic would probably do the trick. My guess is we’ll see an iPhone 4 rev 2 with this sort of modification sometime around October.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@RonMacGuy… Just for you, I will stick around. Actually, I will stick around if for no other reason than to gloat when Apple revs its white iPhone 4 to deal with the antenna design error. The latest rumbling is that the white model suffers from “light leaks”. This is a trial balloon to explain how the antenna will be internal to the phone and the outer band will simply hold the phone together, even though the original antenna design had no problems. Apple logic is so predictable.

b0wz3r

C’mon guys… stop feeding the stupid troll…

Ignore him and eventually he’ll go away.

Oh, I forgot… that assumes he actually has a life.  Sorry for that mistaken assumption.

ctopher

@Bosco - Of course Android phones and devices are out selling the iPhone. They’re giving away the OS and in many cases the phones themselves. (In exchange for a contract where they make good money, these people are not fools)

But has this taken away from the iPhone? Have they taken sales away from Apple? So far, I can’t see how. And yes, this is where we investors trot out the BMW vs Chevy analogy. Chevy makes more cars that in most cases are better suited to the job at hand than BMW, but consumers aspire to BMW brand.

So it is with Apple. No, they’re not altruistic. Yes they use PR to advance their positives and try and hide their negatives. But they’re still an aspirational brand. And their stock has been rewarding. I’m no day trader or investment guru, but when I started writing software for the Mac in the 80s, I purchased some shares. Since then I’ve bought and sold and banked enough in that portion of my portfolio to now have Apple holdings that were paid for in gains. That is, I made money.

Now I have a fairly boring portfolio of a broad spectrum of stocks, bonds and mutual funds so I’m going up and down with the market, but I look at my emotional purchase of Apple stock when it was in low double digits and I think, there is a good investment. (Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again)

But here comes the AO, so when should I finally liquidate?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@ctopher… That’s funny. I don’t remember anyone here except ethan and daemon expressing any level of agreement early this year when I predicted that Android sales would surpass iPhone sales sometime this year. Android was “too fragmented”. It’s not polished like the iPhone. blah blah blah.

To answer your question though… If AAPL hits $280 again, sell. Their mobile business model is less about selling BMWs to accomplished people and more about selling Bentleys to riff-raff. Their Mac business is still pretty sound because Steve isn’t interested in it.

vasic

Bosco,

I think you are switching arguments here a bit; no single Android device (and no single Android phone maker) has yet come even close to Apple’s numbers. Thanks to Palm’s (as well as Microsoft’s) ineptitude, Android is emerging as a default choice of mobile OS for majority of smartphone makers. This, coupled with iPhone’s AT&T exclusivity in the US (and few other markets as well), has contributed to the creation of powerful growth numbers for the platform itself. As for its future, it is still fairly unlikely that it would overshadow iPhone, primarily due to the very fragmentation you seem to be dismissing. This fragmentation is the main reason that the platform will rarely see original, unique apps appear there first (or only there), rather than on the iPhone. In other words, for some foreseeable future, Android app catalogue will continue to be a significantly smaller subset of the iPhone catalogue, mainly because developers have only one set of hardware and OS platforms (with minor variations) to contend with, whereas, different hardware and different OS versions present nuisances that often make it simply not worthwhile to bother. As a software deveoloper, I’m sure you can understand that.

As for the stock advice, I’m pretty sure Apple as a company will continue to post record quarters for at least four next quarters, which should normally continue to push stock upwards. If the rest of the stock market doesn’t suddenly spiral downwards (and pull AAPL with it), the stock should move comfortably past $280. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that their mobile business will stall anytime soon. Even iPods continue to sell at reasonable pace; iPads are sold as fast as they are made (as well as iPhones), Macs are growing quite robustly, and I simply can’t see any part of their business where their growth could be slowing.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@vasic… Top of my head example of an app that took off on Android even though it was available for iPhone first: Pandora. Music apps are kinda useless if you can’t go into other apps while using them. Looking through my N1, I also notice Amazon MP3, Google Navigation, OpenSpot, SkyFire browser, and Chrome to Phone. And then there’s Kongregate.com games, which was just bought by GameStop. Can’t play those games on iPhone.

RonMacGuy

@Bosco, I would truly miss you if you did leave.  I think you are much like me in that you love a good argument/debate, and would probably (and probably have) argued both sides just for the sake of the debate.  I do respect your insight on a lot of things.  That said, I agree with your assessment of the white iPhone.  But, Apple is no different than any company that puts out a product with issues - they all will downplay the issue and point out that others exhibit similar issues and will do whatever it takes to divert attention away.  So don’t criticize Apple for doing what most corporations would do in a similar situation.

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