Antennagate Alot Of Hot Air?

Ok, back in the day, Microsoft was the big bully who beat up on everyone and used it’s behemoth weight to control the industry while Apple plodded along a distant second trying to convince everyone that they had a better product (which they did) that was better made (which it was) all while Microsoft sat back and laughed and counted money.  Steve Jobs was forced out of Apple while the powers that be at Apple thought they could do better than Steve and decided to give him the boot.  Meanwhile Microsoft continued to dominate the marketplace while Apple turned into a sinking ship.  At the last minute, the brains at Apple in desperation turned back to Steve Jobs to come back to Apple and rescue them from going under.  Steve straightened out things at Apple, and conquered the MP3 player market with the iPod and then in 2007 with the iPhone, all the while putting out better computers at increasingly cheaper prices and the next thing you know, Apple is now the Giant and well, Microsoft is still a giant, but the upper case G is gone, and all the years of stealing or buying technological advances and strong arming the retailers and competition have caught up with Microsoft, and Microsoft can’t seem to do anything right (as usual).  Only now, the market is a bit more savvy, and people aren’t so easily duped into thinking Microsoft is king just because they are Microsoft.  Microsoft has a pretty fair chunk of the cell phone market, but that’s mainly riding on the coat tails of what Microsoft used to be, and not because the cell phone OS they make is any good.  So now, along comes Apple with the release of the iPhone 4, right on cue, in June, for the 4th year in a row, as expected.  Thinks appeared to start coming apart at the seems when Gizmodo released pictures of an ill-obtained iPhone 4 a month or so before the actual release of the phone giving everyone a sneak peek at this year’s latest iPhone.  Rumors started flying then about how Apple intentionally released the photos to generate publicity (like they needed it…) as everyone who’s interested in seeing it was already combing the net daily (like I was) to glean any tidbit of info, or educated guess at what the new phone would be in terms of features and specs.  The negativity seemed to start then because there are now 2 distinct groups… iPhone lovers, and iPhone haters.  The latter group seems to be comprised of mainly people who don’t own an iPhone, as EVERYONE I know who owns one loves it.  I’ve never, ever, not once have ever met anyone who had an iPhone and said “I hated it so that’s why I got rid of it and went with (insert non-phone brand here)”.  So, now that the iPhone is out, and Apple spilled the beans about the meaning behind the 3 slits in the stainless steel band around the new iPhone being part of the new antenna design, all of a sudden, it’s a huge deal that people are complaining about reception issues with the iPhone 4.  Well, it turns out that the complaints are about 1/2 percent of the total sales of the new iPhone, and the remaining 99.5 percent are getting along just fine with no modifications whatsoever to the phone.  The software update just released (4.0.1) does little more then change the algorithm used to calculate signal strength, and does nothing to improve reception beyond better (read more accurate) reporting of your actual signal strength.  Now, call me a fanboy, or whatever (which I suppose I am) when it comes to the iPhone, but, bear in mind, I’ve owned my 3G for a bit more than a year, and have had ZERO issues with it even considering dropped calls, and I’m not jailbroken or unlocked, and I’m on AT&T’s network, and have virtually no issues and no more (or less) dropped calls than the average user.  I’d say far less than 1 in 20 which is considered normal.

But consider this….

Apple has posted several videos on their site depicting how various other smartphones (Blackberries, Android phones, Samsung, Motorola, etc) have the SAME EXACT ISSUE as the iPhone.  The video depicts the various phones (including an iPhone 3Gs), in Apple’s 100 million dollar signal testing facility, being tested by being held one way (which shows full bars), and being held another (which shows the signal strength dropping to 1 or 0), JUST LIKE THE IPHONE 4!!! I couldn’t believe it!!!  I was so floored that this isn’t just an iPhone 4 issue, but it was simply a cell phone issue.  Cell phones have antennas, and depending on how open that antenna is to the free space around it, the signal strength can degrade.  Just as tall buildings and mountains can affect the signal strength, your hand (albeit it small compared to a building or mountain) is SO much closer to the antenna that it can absorb the signal that would otherwise reach the antenna, and thus, degrade the signal strength.  I’d seen it with my own eyes, but I had to test it for myself.  The video depicts the location of the antenna on a 3G, so I grabbed my phone and covered that area with my hand, and LOW AND BEHOLD, EXACTLY, and I mean EXACTLY as depicted in the videos, the signal strength dropped from 4 bars to 1, just like in the videos!

Ok “fanboy”, we get it, you have nothing bad to say about Apple…right?  Wrong.  I, unlike Gizmodo, or NBC, or CNN am not in business to sell Tide or Jello, so I can strive to be unbiased in my journalistic reportings (albeit… they’ve been few and far between lately, but hey, wha-da-ya-want-fer-nuthin….).  So, if I have anything negative to say about the whole thing, it’s this:   I knew when I updated from 4.0 to 4.0.1 on my 3G, I’d be getting new signal strength algorithms in my phone, so, right before hand, I looked at the display… 5 bars, as usual (I always get 5 bars where I live, and I live 2.3 miles from the tower).   With the phone connected to the computer and backed up on iTunes, I clicked “check for update”, and then “update” because a new version was waiting and so I downloaded and installed the update.  26 minutes later when the update was complete, I’m showing 3 bars, not 5.  So, yeah, Apple can do the old smack our foreheads and say “Gee Wally! Our calculations were wrong!!  Imagine that!”, but I have a tendency to figure that Apple, and their 100 million dollars worth of Faraday cages the size of gymnasiums, knew what the true signal strength was, and simply decided to write overly liberal signal strength algorithms to make the phones appear to be better at grabbing signal than the average bear, and, thanks to “Antennagate”, have been forced to rewrite them to more accurately display signal strength on the phones as part of the ‘fix’, because apparently in their logic, dropping from 3 bars to 1 is less bad than dropping from 5 bars to 1…. Go figure that one out.

In the end, “Antennagate” and all the hype and negativity around it never really phased me.  I planned on getting one before all the falsely generated media hype, and I’m looking forward quite excitedly to getting one next Thursday, and have no worries about signal problems at all whatsoever.  So, thanks to “Antennagate”, and Steve Jobs, I’ll be getting a free bumper for it as well and save myself the $30 bucks I would have been drilled for it otherwise and continue to laugh at everyone without one who complains about the REAL issues they have with their phones.

Your comments welcome below…


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