Cupertino (California): Apple CEO Steve Jobs here on Friday played pacifist by announcing free cases for all iPhone 4 customers through September 30 as a temporary solution to the antenna problems that have been plaguing the “world’s best smartphone”.
Apple has been facing strong media outcry for the past few weeks over the purported flaw in its latest creation: acute signal loss when held in a certain way, resulting in dropped calls.
Amongst the innumerable reports published recently, several suggested that phone cases or bumpers solved the problem, albeit at the cost of adding bulk to the device bought for its sleekness.
The New York Times (NYT) had also reported that this was a software problem, which could be fixed with an update.
However, at the news conference, senior vice president of iOS, the iPhone’s operating system, Scott Forstall said the NYT was “making this stuff up”.
Jobs also said they had challenged the Bloomberg report that had claimed they had been forewarned by one of their own engineers about this problem.
He claimed that all smartphones face a similar signal attenuation problem when touched specifically on the external antenna spot.
In what many saw as a aggressive defense, Jobs, in a presentation, showed phones by Samsung, HTC and BlackBerry that appeared to drop signal bars when touched at specific spots.
However when a reporter said he was unable to see the problem on his BlackBerry, Jobs replied, “It may not happen at all places.”
Taking frequent jabs at the media who had gone as far as calling the iPhone 4 ‘Apple’s Vista’ and dubbed the case ‘Antennagate’, he said the problem had been “blown so out of proportion that it is incredible”.
Apologising to customers who faced the problem, Jobs announced that all iPhone customers shall get free cases and people, who had already bought bumpers made by Apple, shall get refunds.
This will go on till September 30, when they will “reevaluate and try to come up with a better idea.”
“If you are still dissatisfied, you can bring in the phone and we’ll give you a full refund,” he said.
He said Apple engineers were working overtime to come up with a fix and on Thursday they had released a software update that correctly measured the signal strength, making the drop seem less catastrophic.
At the event, Jobs also revealed that they will start selling the iPhone 4 in 17 more countries, including Australia, Austria, Italy, Ireland and Switzerland on July 30.