Senior Apple Engineer Warned Steve Jobs About Possible iPhone 4 Antenna Issues

The PR storm Apple is in after it turned out users were running into reception issues with their iPhone 4 devices due to a flaw in the antenna design appears to be destined not to blow over anytime soon, hastily scheduled press conferences and unhelpful software updates notwithstanding.

Bloomberg this morning published a report saying Ruben Caballero, one of Apple’s senior engineers, actually told chief exec Steve Jobs in the early design phase of the fast-selling smartphone that the antenna design could lead to dropped calls, citing a person familiar with the matter who requested to stay anonymous.

Not only that, another unidentified source tells Bloomberg, but a carrier partner also voiced some concerns about the antenna design before the device’s June 24 release.

There are only so many carriers this could be, obviously. The exclusive carrier in the United States if of course AT&T, and Apple’s European partners include Vodafone, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, while Softbank carries the iPhone 4 in Japan.

Here’s the key part of the Bloomberg report:

Apple’s industrial design team, led by Jonathan Ive, submitted several iPhone designs before Jobs and other executives settled on the bezel antenna, said the person familiar with the company’s design. Caballero, the antenna expert, voiced concern in early planning meetings that it might lead to dropped calls and presented a serious engineering challenge, the person said.

The metal bezel surrounding the handset would need to be separated in sections to create individual antennas capable of handling particular ranges of the radio frequencies for different wireless networks, the person said. If a user covered one of the seams between the sections, their finger would act as a conductive material, interfering with the signal, the person said. Consumer Reports suggests iPhone 4 users cover the antenna with duct tape to help mitigate reception woes.

Can someone please email Steve Jobs to verify if he really dismissed concerns voiced early in the design process by a senior member of staff and a carrier partner, and ask him why?