The Woz Experienced Reception Woes With His iPhone 4, Too

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Apple’s executive team will no doubt be fuming this morning, as Bloomberg reported that a senior Apple engineer and antenna expert voiced concerns about potential reception issues with the iPhone 4 due to its antenna design in the early phases of the hardware design process, citing a source familiar to the matter.

Adding fuel to the fire is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (aka The Woz), in an interesting interview with Dutch journalist Henk Van Ess.

“It’s like the AT&T dead zone has been extended with this new phone,” the man says.

Here’s the relevant bit from the interview:

Henk van Ess: How did you find out about the antenna problems?

Steve Wozniak: The first time I tried I was able to duplicate the problem. My wife was driving me to the airport and as soon as I got a short distance from my home, and no longer on wifi, I tried it by accessing a web page (using Safari on my iPhone 4) and observing the progress bar.

As the bar started to proceed I lightly (‘lightly’) touched a couple of fingers to the trouble area and the progress bar froze. When I lifted my fingers the progress bar continued it’s (sic) rapid progress. Putting my finger[s] back down halted the progress bar again. Lifting my fingers another time allowed the web page to finish loading.

I tried it again with one more web page I was in a moving car in the hills near my home. Currently I maintain cell phone calls fine there with my iPhones and with other cell phones, although this exact area used to drop AT&T calls reliably, a few years ago.

I was in a moving car in the hills near my home. Currently I maintain cell phone calls fine there with my iPhones and with other cell phones, although this exact area used to drop AT&T calls reliably, a few years ago.

I tried to repeat this experiment somewhere else a second time, I think in a San Jose restaurant, and I only had partial success. That time I could only slow the progress bar a little and only if I squeezed my iPhone 4 tightly. I concluded that the effect only occurs in some places. It’s like the AT&T dead zone has been extended with this new phone.
If you can afford it, carry a second Verizon phone for backup. Another option is to carry a Verizon mifi and rely on Skype on your iPhone.

To be fair, the issues don’t seem to bother The Woz as other than that, “the iPhone works well enough and its beauty is worth the care in holding it”.

That’s similar to MG Siegler’s arguments in favor of the iPhone 4, while Michael Arrington is more straightforward in his advice (“buy an Android instead”).

I’m a proud iPhone 3GS owner seriously considering an Android device for his next smartphone, for a variety of reasons – or maybe I’ll just follow Wozniak’s advice and buy a bunch of phones for backup in one go. What’s the situation you’re in?

(Image courtesy of Flickr user OnInnovation)

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