Officially, Apple seems to be in denial about the serious and mounting issues being reported by its customers. However, complaints of the antenna “death grip”, battery power vampire, proximity sensor, and other issues are floooding online forums. Thankfully, unofficially, the rumor is that Apple is hard at work resolving these “non-issues” with an update to the iOS software coming soon.
I have received comments, tweets and e-mails in support of Apple–chastising me for sensationalizing minor issues that aren’t really news. On the other hand, I receive e-mails and tweets every day directly from readers who are experiencing these “non-issues” and implore me to help champion the cause of getting them resolved.
At some point, overwhelming “anecdotal” evidence is enough to declare a real issue whether Apple wants to officially recognize it or not. Here are the top four reasons that Apple needs to crank out iOS 4.0.1 sooner rather than later.
1. Antenna “Death Grip”. It’s real. I can replicate it without fail on my iPhone 4. Yes–per Steve Jobs instructions–if I just hold the phone in a way that my skin does not come into contact with the black line at the bottom left corner of the antenna band I don’t experience the problem. However, I have owned smartphones for years–including the iPhone 3GS–and this is the first device that simply doesn’t work if you hold it a certain way.
Admittedly, the real issue is hard to pin down. It seems to be primarily an issue with the iPhone 4 and its revolutionary antenna array, but is it a hardware issue, or a software issue? I have heard reports from some that iPhone 3GS devices are also experiencing similar problems after updating to iOS 4.0. I hope–for Apple’s sake and mine–that the problem can be fixed with a software update.
2. Battery Power Vampire. I am not seeing this issue myself, but I spend the majority of my time at my desk working and I tend to leave the iPhone 4 connected and charging as long as I am at my desk, so I am not a valid test case.
I have received tons of e-mails from readers, though, describing the issues they are having with battery life after applying the iOS 4.0 update. Many of the e-mails also come with advice for resolving the issue. Some have suggested disabling Wi-Fi, or turning off e-mail or push notifications, or that it’s a problem only with specific rogue apps that aren’t playing nice with the new OS. The bottom line is that users who previously could go all day on a single charge are suddenly watching the power sap out of their device before their eyes.
3. Proximity Sensor. The iPhone 4 is supposed to recognize when it is in a call and near the user’s face to black out the display and disable the touchscreen functionality. The point is to prevent users from accidentally pressing buttons or hanging up the call with their cheek while talking. For many users it’s not working. Numbers are pressed. Facetime calls are initiated. Calls are ended.
4. Sound Quality. This issue seems much less reported, but my wife and I are both noticing poor sound quality on our iPhone 4s. I previously had an iPhone 3GS, and my wife previously had an iPhone 3G and we never had any problems. Now, our calls sound like we’re talking into a tin can while standing in a tunnel. The iPhone 4 has a second microphone for noise-canceling, so I expected better sound quality than the 3GS. So far, I am disappointed.
When you put it all together, the iPhone 4 may not be the best device for conducting business. Of course–as long as you hold the iPhone 4 the “correct” way, but not too close to your face, while leaving it connected to a charging source–it is an excellent smartphone. That is if you don’t mind sounding like you’re in a tin can.
Apple may or may not be feverishly working on a software update for the iPhone 4, and other devices that rely on iOS. But, with class action lawsuits, and page after page of comments and complaints reporting these problems throughout the Internet, I hope that behind the serene “it’s not an issue, just hold the phone different” façade, Apple is hard at work on iOS 4.0.1.
My iTunes tells me that my iOS 4.0 is the current version and that my iPhone software is up to date. Hopefully that will change soon, and hopefully iOS 4.0.1–if and when it becomes available–will actually resolve these issues and let us get back to just enjoying the “magic” of Apple devices.