Behold, the iPhone 4.
Agreed, it looks a lot like every other iPhone model we’ve ever seen. But behind the clone-like exterior is a cornucopia of new-and-improved features, including crisper resolution and display, speedier navigation between apps and documents, and real-time video calls.
And to the joy of Apple fanboys everywhere, and the ire of iPhone detractors, this latest incarnation comes with the long-awaited ability to multitask.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs hails the iPhone 4 as Apple’s greatest win, selling more units in its first 3 days on the market than any other product released by the company to date.
Others would disagree – the iPhone 4 has been slammed by many consumers and media sources as a colossal fail. Shiny new applications and advanced features are great fun, but the iPhone 4 has trouble performing the most fundamental function expected of a cellular telephone device: making calls.
An apparent flaw in the iPhone 4’s antenna results in phone calls dropping out, particularly in weak signal areas, when a user’s hand covers or even touches a particular spot on the device’s lower left corner. An oversight which immediately led to consumer and stockholder demands for a 1.5 billion USD recall of what appeared to be a defective product.
However, Steve Jobs fought back at a press conference by claiming that the antenna problem was not unique to the iPhone 4, so a recall was not required. Apple’s CEO claimed that his company was being singled out and picked by media and critics because of its success, and used video demonstrations to point the finger at rival smartphone companies RIM, HTC and Samsung for having similar reception issues with their products.
Samsung, HTC and RIM have since fired back against the antenna allegations, producing data of their own to illustrate that the iPhone 4’s connectivity problems are far more serious than those of their own smartphones.
It seems though that Jobs has effectively taken the heat off of Apple for the time being, and avoided the need for a costly recall.
Adding to the consumer confusion, Apple has offered the “Band Aid solution” of a free case that prevents calls from failing. It has also publicised statistics that initial iPhone 4 returns are lower than first-release iPhone 3GS returns (so people must be happier with the product, right?).
And naturally, reminded everyone that the so-called bad antenna does not affect every user – for some, it has actually made call functionality better.
So, is the iPhone 4 a win or a fail? Like so many other things in life, I guess it depends whether you’re Steve Jobs or anyone else.