Last week, Apple held a short-notice press conference regarding the antenna-based reception problems of the new iPhone 4. During this press conference, the results of a competitor comparison were presented, showing that the iPhone 4 reception issue is not unique to the iPhone 4, but that it is, in fact, found in many other leading smartphone devices from various manufacturers. Needless to say, those manufacturers have stepped forward with commentary.
Nokia, RIM, and Samsung have issued official releases regarding the validity of the demonstration, and HTC has had an unofficial statement by a community manager.
Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature.
Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.
In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.
Nokia’s response is fairly subdued, as they were not mentioned in the Apple demonstration by name. RIM’s response is much more entertaining:
Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.
I guess calling your competitor a charlatan, deceiver, and dumbass is one way to do business. And by one way, I mean the fun way! I hated my old BlackBerry Storm, but I’m liking RIM more now!
Samsung’s response is short, but sufficient, detailing the difference in design and functionality between the iPhone 4 and the Samsung Omnia II, which was used in the demonstration:
The antenna is located at the bottom of the Omnia 2 phone, while iPhone’s antenna is on the lower left side of the device. Our design keeps the distance between a hand and an antenna. We have fully conducted field tests before the rollout of smartphones. Reception problems have not happened so far, and there is no room for such problems to happen in the future.
Pocket Lint got a comment from HTC’s global PR and online community manager, Eric Lin, regarding the percentage of customer complaints on the Droid Eris (the HTC phone demonstrated by Apple):
Approximately .016% of customers. We have had very few complaints about signal or antenna problems on the Eris.
Hopefully we’ll get an entertaining response out of Apple, and the e-drama can begin!
-[insert DRAMARAMA! here]