Apple: You’re Holding The iPhone 4 The Wrong Way

Oh shoot. The call-dropping left-bottom corner touch isn’t a manufacturing defect but a feature! Read iPhone 4: Touch Left Corner To Drop Calls and Double iPhone 4 Download Speed With Black Electrician Tape? for more info about this insane issue. Apple has made an official statement to Engadget regarding the iPhone 4’s call drop feature:

Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

The problem? The way you hold the iPhone 4. So the solution? Get the Bumper or change the way you hold the iPhone 4. Do you know what I think? I had the pleasure of watching Objectified yesterday. It is a brilliantly-made documentary film about industrial design. Dieter Rams, former Braun design director, stated that good design is as little design as possible. The iPhone 4 certainly fits that description: from the outside it looks like a high-tech rectangular Oreo cookie. Rams even noted Apple for being one of very few companies that takes design seriously. Well. It looks as though Apple thoroughly messed up with this antenna design.

I think the antenna design was clever but there were two big blind spots. The first blind spot: extremely contradictory to what Apple has done in the past, it forgot to look deeply into how us human beings hold our phones, especially rectangular bar-shaped ones like the iPhone. If Apple knew that gripping any mobile phone would result in a reduction of antenna performance then it should be working to reduce that effect. Instead Apple designed the iPhone 4 so that when regular human beings hold it the reduction effect is amplified. That is terrible design!

The second blind spot: Apple has been and continues to be a very secret company and it does all it can to prevent the world from knowing what it is up to. The iPhone 4 has been the most leaked product in Apple’s recent history but the second blind spot is directly related to Apple’s attempt at total secrecy. The iPhone 4 was always covered with plastic when being tested in the wild. The 3GS-looking plastic case prevented testers from noticing what a lot of iPhone 4 users are now complaining about: dropped calls, lower signal bars, etc. when holding the iPhone 4. Should Apple be less secretive? I don’t have an answer for that. But it definitely was a blind spot for Apple when testing the iPhone 4.

I am perturbed at Apple’s official statement insinuating that those experiencing dropped calls are holding the iPhone 4 the wrong way. You screwed up Apple; fix the design so the design works with the way we hold the iPhone.