Word of the day from Apple CEO Steve Jobs is that “smartphones have issues” and the antenna problem with the iPhone 4 is not unique to Apple’s new device.
Jobs began a press conference today at Apple headquarters demonstrating that phones from competing OEMs – Research In Motion Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris and Samsung Omnia II show the same drop in signal strength as the iPhone 4 when held in certain ways.
Apple says the iPhone 4 antenna has prompted only a half a percent of users to call AppleCare about the issue. According to Jobs, AT&T’s early return rates on the iPhone 4 paled in comparison to the 3GS.
Still, Jobs said the iPhone 4 does drop more calls than the 3GS but not by much. According to Jobs, the iPhone 4 drops less than one more call per 100 than the 3GS.
Again, Jobs returned to a lack of protective cases for the new device as a reason for the poor reception, explaining that because the 3G and 3GS were similar, many transferred their case to their new device when they purchased a 3GS.
“I get e-mails saying the phone works perfectly, and they can’t understand what this is all about,” he said, according to a live blog by Engadget. “So we think it’s affecting a small batch, but it has to do with inherent problems in smartphones. But we want all of our users to be happy.”
Jobs cited the iOS4 update (V. 4.0.1) that went out yesterday as a step towards fixing the bug that more accurately reports signal strength.
The second step in making users happy is to give everyone a free case. He said that Apple will refund those who have already bought a bumper and users can apply for their choice of case online late next week. The reason Apple will not go with a free bumper for everyone, Jobs said, is because the company can’t make them fast enough to keep up with demand.
And if that wasn’t enough, Apple will take the phone back. Customers will get a full refund for returns within 30 days, with no restocking fee.
In a Q&A after the conference, Jobs said that Apple is not currently pursuing any changes to the phone’s hardware.
When asked whether Apple knew about the antenna problems before the device was released, as was reported recently by Bloomberg, Jobs called the report a “crock” and noted that Apple has challenged them to show proof of that. If anyone had said it had been problem, Apple would have dispatched people to deal with that issue, he said.