How Apple moved the conversation from iPhone 4 death-touch to industry-wide death-grip


One of the greatest tricks Apple pulled off at the iPhone 4 press conference was changing the dialog from death-touch -- a single point of antenna trouble on iPhone 4 -- to death-grip -- a device-wide point of antenna trouble faced by the entire industry.

Apple for their part did cop to making iPhone 4's point of attenuation very external and incredibly visible. Steve Jobs called it "x-marks the spot", but then Apple very quickly moved on from this death-touch to a wider death-grip and demonstrated it on handsets from RIM's BlackBerry to HTC's Droid to Samsung's Windows Mobile.

I initially thought this was a mistake on Apple's part -- that they were spending too much time deflecting onto the competition. Turns out I underestimated Apple, but not as badly as the competition. What Apple very neatly managed to do there was conflate their own widely reported iPhone 4 death-touch into the very real but widely under-reported death-grip phenomena that does indeed affect the entire industry.

What's more, by those very competitors responding that the death-grip either didn't affect their devices, was minimal at best, or wouldn't affect future devices, they cinched it for Apple. They became part of the problem. Why?

Because their devices absolutely suffer from the death grip. Instead of pointing out that yes, Apple was correct, the death-grip was an industry-wide problem but the death-touch was thus far unique to Apple, RIM BlackBerry, Samsung, and Nokia denied the death-grip, thus ensuring everyone with the issue -- or just an itch for attenuation attention -- would fire up YouTube and make a video clearly discrediting their statements.

HTC for their part just said they didn't have many reports of the problem. However, as David Chartier points out, HTC effectively white-labels their phones to Verizon and they didn't make it clear whether the number of complaints they reported included Verizon numbers. This is similar to Apple citing AT&T return numbers for iPhone 4, not gross Apple return numbers. It's what brought about the saying "lies, damn lies, and statistics".

My original take on Apple's press conference was that Steve Jobs should have just stressed that making the iPhone 4 antenna the way they did was a trade-off, better battery life and stronger signal in many cases in exchange for that single point of problem -- the lower left hand corner death-touch. Andy Ihnatko made the same point, if more eloquently. Arguably a modern smartphone has any number of tradeoffs -- AMOLED screens offer better color and blacks that utterly fail in direct sunlight. (Free sun-screens anyone?)

I still think Apple should have been crystal clear about that trade-off, but it's looking increasingly like they didn't have to. In their rush to get comments out in front of the media RIM, Samsung, Nokia, et al have let the conversation get changed from death-touch to death-grip, and they've let videos on their own handsets propagate across the web. One look at BlackBerry on Boy Genius, Nokia on Electronista, Samsung on InformationWeek, HTC on Engadget, many others via Daring Fireball, and even manufactures' own warnings against touching their antennas in their own manuals via 1FPS shows how they've become part of a story that last week was all about Apple.

Sure a few sites like Ars Technica and When Will Apple? will raise a fuss over it, but it's done. Competitors dove headlong into it. And since Apple has now effectively priced the death-touch problem as one free case per phone, all that remains to be seen is if competitor's denials + customers videos = free cases for other phones too.

So I underestimated Apple but they didn't underestimate their competition.

Note: this editorial is based on a Twitter conversation with Seth Weintraub from 9to5Mac who is absolutely right, one day college courses will be taught on these PR tactics. Check out his article on Fortune.

Update 1: Dilbert's Scott Adams comes to the same conclusion, which he calls the "high ground maneuver", and wonders if Jobs has had hypnotist training.

Update 2: I said above that while many smartphones have the death-grip, only the iPhone has the death-touch. Daring Fireball links to a YouTube video showing the Samsung Galaxy S having, if not the death-touch, then at least the death-finger. Again, from now on no smartphone is safe.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How Apple moved the conversation from iPhone 4 death-touch to industry-wide death-grip


Way to be innovative Apple. Don't fix it, just say, "well every one has this problem."
I love Apple, I love their products, but they didn't do any thing besides deflect the blame on some one else. They could be a REALLY innovative company and actually DO some thing to fix the problem. Maybe they still will, but they certainly didn't hint at that in their press conference.
Yes, the other companies were dumb for joining in and offering up statements, but let's not be quick to pat Apple on the back. They didn't actually FIX any thing.

Nice photo on the phone there Rene. haha, love it. So are you Apple in that pic, or the consumer.

@MikeQ : True Apple didn't fix anything. And I feel that although they were quick to point out that other phones can have similar issues, the iPhone 4 is more susceptible.
But, where I think they succeeded was in leveling the playing field when it comes to perception. The perception is that the iPhone 4 will be seriously problematic for all users because there are videos showing it lose signal when held. I have an iPhone 4 and fortunately live in an area with great signal strength and I naturally hold my phone in a manner that does not bridge the antennae. So I along with countless others do not have any issue whatsoever with real-world everyday use. The same rings true for the 4 phones that Apple demo'd. Just because Apple showed that these can lose signal doesn't mean it can readily happen with typical usage.
However, not many people care about that. They just see the videos and perceive that there is or will be a problem. What Apple did from a PR standpoint was smart. However, I believe that they will still suffer sales-wise. They'll not sell as many phone as they could've had "Antennaegate" not have happened.

The entire problem with the iPhone 4 -- and the reason the problem publicly surfaced for this phone and not for others -- is that it just takes a touch on a specific, commonly cradled spot to kill the reception. Other phones suffer may indeed suffer from a grip problem, but the iPhone 4 alone suffers from both a grip and a touch problem. By deliberately confusing the issue and confusing all customers, Apple has done a pretty smart PR trick, even if morally questionable, worthy of the best of Lee Atwater.

I don´t agree with you René. By calling others, they guaranteed the subject won´t go away soon. And that is disastrous for Apple. Dumb

@antonioj The subject may not go away soon now, but now it's not an Apple only subject. I believe that is the point that Rene was trying to make.

I agree with Mike Q and couldn't disagree with Rene more. I enjoyed the comments from the TiPB gang during the conference, but the past several articles have been, in my opinion, totally wrong.
My mom used to say to me, "If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you?" Jobs' mom probably should have said that to Steve more often.
The problem was never that other phones have the problem. That's their business. For Apple to say, "You want us to fix our phones? But, but, but, but what about all the other companies? Why don't THEY have to fix their phones, too?!" is totally childish. And Consumer Reports is absolutely right. Apple hasn't presented a long-term fix. The phone still does not come with the case, and the device itself still has the same problem.
What Apple did wasn't wise or noble. In fact, if you'll recall, the first five minutes was a video that offended Gizmodo. Sure, Gizmodo enjoyed the mention, but it was incredibly weak of Apple to do 2.5 Gizmodo name-drops. There was a public outcry of how horrible it was that the iPhone 4 had a problem. Apple's response was 24 minutes of not addressing the problem at all, and one minute of giving free bumpers.
Steve, I thought you assured me that there was a software fix? That was a lie? Well surely you've addressed why for the past three years Apple has been lying to its customers about reception, no?
Apple is trying to dodge a bullet by making tons of enemies and by having the media focus on its competitors. In fact, it makes me ashamed to have an iPhone now. If I could switch to another good phone on AT&T, I would. I have no problems with the iPhone, but I have a very big problem with the way Steve Jobs treats Apple's customers. He needs to grow up.

Apple will get over this and come back with iPhone 5. How come I can touch the spot (on the phone you pervs) and not drop bars? It clearly is about where you live and how you get reception. At work? Won't drop a bar no matter what. At home? Drops bars easily, but never lose reception or voice quality. However it should be know that at at home, all previous models would go from 5 bars at times to 1 bar just sitting on my table by itself doing nothing. Hell even the death grip has been known to add one more bar at my apt.
Link after the break.

I'm glad to see TiPb finally acknowledging the difference between the "death grip" and the "finger of death," as well as Apple's slick PR tactic of shifting the blame. However, I don't agree that it's such a smart tactic. True, they pulled others into the mire, but that just means the story will go on and perhaps even grow. I still think they should have nipped it in the bud, just quickly say "we messed up, we'll fix it, and here are free cases in the meantime."
I don't think Steve will get CEO of the Year again this year. People have been loving him more lately, but that press conference reminded everyone he's still a nasty, arrogant little jerk.

Either many people here didn't watch the press conference, or they're just not bright enough to comprehend it.
By pinpointing the iPhone 4's problem area with a closeup, mentioning the "death-touch" complaints, and offering cases, they admitted to the problem without having to say anything (regardless of including the other phones' death-grip problems). Jobs doesn't need to pin notes on your adolescent shirts.
People only want to see almighty Apple lose sales, and see those whom they call "fanboys" being disappointed enough to return their phones. That's what they REALLY want. And they're simply angry that they're not going to get it. :lol:

Attempting to deflect from their poor design by showing that if they hold other phones in unnatural ways (the way they apparently wanted people to hold the iPhone 4?) that they can cause a similar issue. All that tells informed customers is that this antenna issue is actually a well known problem that needs to be address in design and that Apple didn't think through their layout and/or said, who cares the sheep will buy it anyways since it looks "cool" even if it is really easy to kill calls.

The Apple fans loved the press conference. The problem was that the press conference should have been targeted at the critics, not the fans. The horrible video and the jokes were inappropriate and simply irritated the critics further. It should have been brief, sincere, and to the point. "We acknowledge the problem and here's what we're doing about it."

I agree,Apple will return & advance as usually.The problem with gossip is if you get in with it.It will gobble you up with it.Apple will continue to make good products because theirs are simple to use.

In the meantime, the stock market is not fooled. AAPL down over 8 points today while the rest of the market it up...and about to drop back below Microsoft's marketcap...I'm sorry but the press conference was a kind of a joke.

@Fastlane, i 100% agree.
What people REALLY want, is to see Apple Crumble as a company and not exist.
P.S. thanks internet trolls. thanks to you, I get a free case. :D

I think most people with any serious business acumen could see what Jobs was attempting to do. Call it deflection, call it scattering, call it good marketing. It is time honoured practice that if your product is being castigated for a perceived problem, you compare it to other like products and show they are no better. By using publicly available videos, Jobs made the point flawlessly. Invariably the press chases the bait and spreads the net wider losing focus on the original product. More surprising was seeing the Big Four competitors take the bait.
People are missing the point: there is no fix. This is an industry wide problem that is evident, to varying degrees, in every phone. The degree, the grip, the number of fingers, etc, etc varies with each design but no product is exempt. Jobs was clear in saying if Apple can find a solution, they will -- but there is no fix on the horizon. Even the competitors haven't argued that central point, they have simply said they have valued reliability over design and situated their antenna accordingly.

Fastlane, I think you have a little APPLE JUICE on your chin there. I have a 4, a 3G, and a Bold. Sitting in my living room, I can hold IN MY HAND, my old 3G any way you can hold a phone and still be able to talk on it, and......nothing. Same with my Bold. Absoultly nothing. Now, with the 4, I can place my finger on the gap, with the phone on a table, and watch the bars drop, until I have no signal. THAT fanboy, IS a problem. I don't just lose bars, it drops until NO SIGNAL comes up. Remove my finger, and presto!! Back in bidness. Got my phone on 29 June, and on 30 June, had it wrapped up in the most un-attractive purple case you have ever seen, just to make a call. Then I had to endure Jobs' BS about what was wrong. Don't hold it like that. BUY a bumper / case. Apple comes out with the most unique phone the market has seen in years and tells everyone to hide it so it works?? Apple's quest for form OVER function at all cost has finally caught up with them. Then he has the nerve to come out and say that, yea ours is bad, but so is theirs!!! Why are ya'll picking on us. WE'RE APPLE FOR GOD'S SAKE. YOU LOVE US. My only concern is why 30 Sept as a cut off, and will the white ones (WHENEVER those show up) have the same issue?? and don't start about it being a new device. The FIRST iPhone was a new model, and it did not have all these problems.

I think facts are facts and companies are start to realize it is much better to give it straight up then to lie and get caught with it. It was deflection but it also is just the facts I have had the prob with all my smart phones since my treo but it never bothered me it is what it is. The fact that everyone made it such a big deal on the iphone 4 doesnt make sense to me. just this last week i drove with a buddy to arizona for a camp he had the 4 i have a 3gs. he was able to stream pandora the whole way where mine was unable to hold the signal. i can't wait to buy my white i4

Why are you telling me things I already know? Are you in the right thread? Or did you just not understand my comment? :roll:

I've said the same thing since the conference, this was a brilliant PR move by Apple.
It may be a seedy move by Apple, I totally agree with that, but imagine how it will play out psychologically, Blackberry,HTC,Nokia, and Samsung users will apply the death grip and be able to replicate the issue, (of course) it's an unnatural way of holding your phone but, mentally when you see the bars go down, your mind will start to believe that it's a bigger problem than it actually is.
People will think back to every dropped call, and now mentally associate it with "maybe I was using a death grip" (referring to the non Apple phones)
What ultimately makes Apple look good here is that, they pointed the finger at the other guys and showed their phone's "weaknesses" but Apple actually addressed the problem and gave away something FREE to fix it, and we all know that 'Free' and 'Apple' are rarely seen in the same sentence.
I disagree with how Apple did it, but from a marketing standpoint, I stand and applaud the way they manipulated it in their favor...

In my house I have very weak reception. I have a 4, 3Gs, 3G & a Blackberry.
The ONLY one I get consistent reception on is the 4. Sure I need to be a bit careful where I hold it, but at least I can make & receive calls on it.
That is down to the external antenna and it's made my life a whole lot better not worse.

Does it fix the pronlem? NO.
Does the problem still exist? YES.
The point of the article was to highlight the way in which Apple turned a black eye on itslef into a shared industry-wide problem, thus rendering the situation "not that bad". That's it. And frankly, I agree. That's exactly what they did.
Bottom line: Great damage control tactics by Apple, but I still won't be purchasing the '4'.

Here's an idea..who cares anymore!? Subject is over, move on. Get one or don't. Apple won't care they will still make money. I think it's time people move on with their lives and worry about something else. Antennas have always been a problem. Can we talk about something else now?

@Tom Stephens:

I think most people with any serious business acumen could see what Jobs was attempting to do. Call it deflection, call it scattering, call it good marketing. It is time honoured practice that if your product is being castigated for a perceived problem, you compare it to other like products and show they are no better.

Exactly. Well said.
While at the same time, he DID show the "death-touch" area and, very briefly, revealed that there have been complaints about it... then moving off of that point very quickly to compare other phones on a different, but related, issue.
But, it just doesn't satisfy some that Jobs didn't rollover and cry begging for forgiveness. Something they don't ask of any other CEO with any other company.
What really puzzles me is that if people here ALREADY KNOW the iPhone 4 has a different issue, then why do they insist that Jobs draw them a picture as well? Jobs expected people to be able to put two and two together and we all HAVE... but some still want Jobs to show them the answer on the blackboard when it's not necessary.
Because it's more important to them that he be embarrassed... rather than provide information we already have.

This is the lamest thing I have ever heard. Im getting sick of hearing about lamos standing around holding their phone to make the bars drop. I dont have time to sit around and look like a dumb ass If I dont drop calls I dont care.

I love my iPhone 4 and the antenna issue is real, but isn't a dealbreaker for me. However Apple's argument that other phones suffer from the same problem is disingenuous and doesn't fool me, and it shouldn't fool you either. The key distinction is the other phones don't have their antennas positioned in places where people commonly hold them during regular use. If android phone makers can create something as sleek and beautiful as the iphone by the time i'm due for another upgrade, I will consider switching.

OK, the gotta have it now people are upset that they don't have the problem licked yet. So sorry, but the world just doesn't work that way. Apple admitted that they made a mistake. Apple said that they have been/are researching the problem. Apple never said that it was easy or that the fix would be immediate. They did provide a work around which if used solves the problem completely. That's enough for me. In the interest of full disclosure, I purchased an iPhone knowing the problem the day before the press conference. I was actually set to buy a bumper and now get one for free - makes me a happy camper to get the device I want an not have to pay an extra $29 for an overpriced accessory.
As for Apple's pointing out the flaws in other devices IMHO, that's fair game. Clearly, other manufacturers have been getting a pass from the same folks that are all up at arms over the iPhone 4. Where's the outcry over RIM, et al now that it's clear it's an industry-wide problem? Nobody else's stock is taking a beating it's only Apple. Let's call this what it was - a preemptive strike. Apple couldn't let other skate who would otherwise point at the iPhone and call it flawed. And Apple provided more evidence than nearly all of the press coverage - Consumer Reports included. The other thing that they did is move the conversation from the iPhone's flaws being isolated to where are the flaws in your phone - where it should have been in the beginning for an otherwise ignorant populous. Now folks are going to have to come at Apple with information not innuendo before they make future claims.

Awesome article. This is FINALLY the first article to nail it. While other sites and commentary are wrapped up in "Apple's lies" and trying to justify the stats. Apple put you, you saw right through the PR speak and called it for it is. I wish everyone could read this.
Death touch, NOT death grip is Apple's "problem" that has a simple workaround of a case, tape, or Zagg shield. Applle never admitted this. Agrees it's a trade off that customers can choose whether or not it's valuable and acceptable to them.
Death grip comes with the territory as Apple has well documented. Get over it.
Thanks for the insightful piece.

Are we about done with this topic yet? The phone works. If you want to finger it in certain areas, that's your problem. I'm off to enjoy my iPhone 4...

I just want to when this thing will be available in Canada so I can buy a couple and fondle them to death? Hurry up Rogers/Fido. Grrrrrr..........

If u knew that everytime u put your finger near something you would get shocked would you keep doing it just to say " see!!! I told you!!!!!". Some of u probably would. Some of you are stupid. You know where not to touch so don't touch. If you don't like it get another phone and stop whining.

THE ONLY people talking about an "industry wide" problem are Apple people and apple fanboys, no offense. The News media is talking about Apple's antenna problem.

"Sujee says:
I don’t agree with this. Pls read this nice article. “Truth behind iPhone complaints and dropped call stats from Friday”"
That's all irrelevant. Calls may drop because there is no covering on the phone. We all know this. Cover the phone (which is typically desired and not a big deal) and all of the "stats" should fall in line with all of the other smart phones that have a 'death grip' issue, if not do better.
That's all that matters. Period.
If one thinks that having to cover the phone is unacceptable, that's fine. We know it's a trade off you have to choose to live with. Poo Poo the phone, just be accurate about your criticism.

It's obvious what apple was doing. Which is why i said they did ok. Deflect, make it everyone's problem, and then throw in the free cases as a gesture. The other companies played right into it. Bloggers too as they post their polls asking about death grips.

Well Steve said that they have received reports that a bumper "fixes the problem" so "we'll give everyone a bumper." That to me acknowledges the death touch, addresses a free workaround, and moves the conversation on to then address the separate issue of death grip, a non-issue which was whipped up in to a frenzy.
Done and done. Nothing more to see here. Move along.

Wait, they didn't change it from "death grip" to "death touch". EVERYONE is using the term "death grip", so Apple displayed that. If people wanted to talk about the "death touch", they should use the correct terminology...

Say what you want but Apple IS innovating with their external wraparound antenna design. As with almost any innovation, there are inevitable setbacks and trade-off until it's perfected.
"Not all experts think the iPhone 4's design is a bad idea. Haim Harel, president and founder of wireless chip maker Magnolia Broadband, said Apple may have created a design "breakthrough" if it can perfect external antennas for cellphones.
The approach, which saves space for other functions in a phone, was also praised by Franz Birkner, CEO of antenna technology maker Rayspan Corp. "But the challenge of innovation is it inevitably comes with risk," he said."

Yes, I agree... One possible solution a couple of RF engineers I know discussed over dinner one evening recently was to simply power-coat the exposed metal portion of the phone. This would provide little change to the ID (it still looks metallic) and give a layer of non-conductive insulation between hands and antenna.
I must admit, though, that these cutesy terms "death-grip" and "death-touch" are super irritating, and mask the actual issue. There is no death involved. Most times, signal isn't completely lost. It's ATTENUATION, and causes a reduction in signal strength (hence fewer bars). And the attenuation problem isn't getting fixed any time real soon.
For that matter, consider that attenuation is an issue in pretty much every type of electronic communication. For example, signal attenuation increases in cable as you increase distance... hence maximum cable lengths in ethernet, cable TV, DSL, etc. Heck, even regular POTS lines have a theoretical length limit, when you need to install repeaters (to boost signal), before you can perceived a degradation in the quality of the signal (other person's voice).
This is absolutely a physics issue and while Apple has some very smart people on it's staff, there have been many times more people with their brains working on this issue for a very long time. So for the people who espouse terms like death-grip and think that Apple should come up with some magic fix for a pretty solid physics problem, I say simply: "Don't hold your breath." Or maybe you should... the blogs might be more quiet! :)) ;)

Enough said, Apple was just a target and the bullets just ricocheted off and back to the shooters,As I said two weeks ago it was no big deal.

@ Copy of Dev:

The entire problem with the iPhone 4 — and the reason the problem publicly surfaced for this phone and not for others — is that it just takes a touch on a specific, commonly cradled spot to kill the reception. Other phones suffer may indeed suffer from a grip problem, but the iPhone 4 alone suffers from both a grip and a touch problem. By deliberately confusing the issue and confusing all customers, Apple has done a pretty smart PR trick, even if morally questionable, worthy of the best of Lee Atwater.

Well said.
And the sad part is Rene has totally bought into this and dismisses bridging the gap with a one-line hand-waive.
He's written four articles suggesting that those carrier calling BS on Apple's diversion have somehow fallen into an imagined trap, hand now have to cough up cases.
RENE Read my lips: Its not about the death grip. Its about antenna gap and exposed antennas. And everybody understands this but you.
The entire world, the entire mainstream press, and all the other cell manufacturers are laughing their asses off at Apple. Nobody was fooled by this diversion ploy except TiBp. It WILL be mentioned is business classes, as the biggest PR Backfire of all times. The video will be used to demonstrate how acting childish really makes you look childish. Apple will be come the prime example of "Don't Be that Guy" in business ethics.
NOBODY but apple fanboys are talking about antenna problems with other phones. They are all talking about what a monumental failure the iPhone 4 is. (Even though it is not a failure).
The deflection attempt Damaged Apple.

@the real truth
Thanks ... It's always interesting to see how someone of limited comprehension see's the situation, and you never fail to give that view, for which I am grateful. Thanks.

Go to any phone's forum and you'll see them talking about it.
"Do you have a death grip issue" will be a poll. The fact they have to have a poll is funny. Of course there will be those who sit and whine they couldn't replicate the problem. But the joke is on them because they sat and TRIED to replicate it. Those that can replicate it will be complaining wanting a free case. Those that can't will be told to keep trying (and they will)..:P
And when they buy a future phone, they'll be testing that one.
Mission accomplished for apple.

"NOBODY but apple fanboys are talking about antenna problems with other phones"
If you really believe that, you don't get out very often.

It is industry wide is it not? There is a video on youtube on every new phone being death gripped. And they all loss reception.


“NOBODY but apple fanboys are talking about antenna problems with other phones” If you really believe that, you don’t get out very often.

Check around the major news outlets. Nobody was fooled.
TG Daily:
New York Times:
I could fill pages with this stuff. Nobody is talking about the other phones. They are all talking about what a monumental PR disaster Jobs caused for Apple. A total Backfire.

Can anyone do the "death grip" with the iPhone 3G? I've had my 3G for 2 years now, and I cannot get it to drop bars no matter how I hold it. So i don't get the everybody from RIM to Droid has this problem, when their own previous models didn't exhibit this issue.

@Icebike: I can't tell if you're trolling or just can't read any more. I said the same thing as dev. I said the same thing as you. It is about the death-touch, not about the death grip. Sadly, other manufacturers answered about the death-grip without pointing out the death-touch.
If I were RIM, my answer would have been: "Yes, all smartphones have the death-grip problem. Unfortunately for Apple, only iPhone 4 has the death-touch problem."
If I were Apple, I would have gone with: "Yes, all smartphones have the death-grip problem, only the iPhone 4 has the death-touch problem, but that's a trade-off we made to get better reception in most cases, increase battery life, etc. etc.".
(And I agree with those like JLG who say Apple should have presented it that way at WWDC.

@Rene Ritchie
This issue is over. The facts are that the iPhone 4 is a tainted product and I'm sure that Apple can't wait to get the next version of the iPhone out. I'll bet the next iPhone will NOT look like the iPhone 4...I've decided not to upgrade from my 3G and will hang out for the next version unless something better comes along. Apple has left the door open for Microsoft now as Windows Phone 7 looks interesting and is something new not a copy of the iPhone like the Google Android copycat phones!

Except your post was almost congratulatory, praising Apple for the deflection:

What Apple very neatly managed to do there was conflate their own widely reported iPhone 4 death-touch into the very real but widely under-reported death-grip phenomena that does indeed affect the entire industry.

When the truth of the matter is this whole thing backfired. As I've posted above, no one is buying the deathgrip, except those fervently trying to defend Apple.
The press wasn't fooled. The Blogosphere is landing on Apple with both feet. Check links in my post this page.
Jobs damaged Apple more than if he just fessed up, offered the bumper, and said "We will do better".
But that is NOT the tone that comes across reading your posts.

This has been going on since the beginning of time. It's the old "smoke screen" when you are guilty, and everyone knows it, you put up the smoke screen to throw blame on the rest. I do think AT&T is partly at fault for bad reception areas. I don't care how good your antenna is. The signal has to be there to receive. This story is getting old. Let's move on.

I'm sort of amused by the mock outrage over the antenna issue displayed by some now. I feel as if the only way some would be satisfied only if Apple sacrificed themselves to appease crititcs. These people are complete morons. Apple made a trade-off, and it was the traditionally Pro-M$ people who have really wanted to see Apple fail. It's a classic early adopter issue, but for some, I really think they would rather see Apple be conservative than take risks. Those people are idiots too.

The biggest issue I have and what others may have lost sight of is that Apple designed a product which had problems and then HAD to deflect the blame to other manufacturers. I mean, come on! This doesn't speak well for Apple from an ethical point of view. It reminds me of something a "kid" would do. A child knocks something over and it breaks, then immediately retorts with "he did it!" as to not attract blame. Apple, shame on you! I like Apple and own many products from them, but this may lead me to reconsider my position. As many others have stated, they should have just owned up to the mistake from the start.

I actually have yet to have one dropped call in the last 3 days since getting my iphone 4. On my 3G, I'd constantly have random drops (even with bars) and the actual inability to make an out call in the first place (would constantly fail 10x).
I've tried very hard to replicate these issues... maybe the day 1 buyers got a different phone than I did. Who knows, I couldn't be happier with my phone and its performance all the way around.
Kinda feel bad for some of you... maybe it's where you live.

Did you watch the press conference video. How many time did Steve say that "We're not perfect?" How many times did he say "that smartphones aren't perfect either?" With the iPhone antenna design, it well accepted that the ip4 maintains and acquires signal where the 3gs struggled (based on many comments from owners). However, while the attenuation situation is present on all phones in different severity, the admission of Steve saying "we're not perfect" in my mind stays "hey we screwed up and we're gonna try to make this right by coming with a temp solution to make customers happy." You can bet your bottom dollar, Apple will learn from this an move on. Apple didn't get to where it is today by sitting idle and pumping out crap.


"The deflection attempt Damaged Apple."

"...the truth of the matter is this whole thing backfired."

"Jobs damaged Apple more than if he just fessed up..."

Just like the lost iPhone prototype was "a PLANT" mark your words?
How did that work out?
Nothing backfired. Apple will continue selling millions and millions of iPhone 4s, despite the endless hopes of bitter, contemptuous critics who are continually suspicious and troubled by Apple's success.
But feel free to keep wishing.

Nobody with an IQ over 50 was fooled. The difference between the iPhone 4 and every other smartphone (including the iPhone 3G and 3Gs) is that Apple externalized its antenna, leading to the touch problem. All they had to do was keep the antenna inside the case, and this problem would go away. And here's the thing: Yes, you can get other phones to drop signals by giving them "death grips", but a) as Ms. Ritchie points out, none of them have a single point of contact for failure, and b) in the other videos (and you can look at the Palm Pre video for an example of this) you practically have to wrap the whole phone in your fist to get the same effect. The comparisons are apples to oranges (no pun intended).


It has infected other phones though. No phone from this point forward is going to avoid a death-grip video.

I doubt it, but nobody pays attention to some kids video anyway.
Apple made this bed, and they will forever sleep in it. And I predict they will be sleeping single.
Microsoft is still wearing Vista (which was never as bad as it was made out to be). Mac and Linux had the same protections, but never took the heat for theirs. The "Will it Blend" meme never spread much beyond Apple. These things tend to be focused on the origin.
Nobody notices death grip because it rarely causes dropped calls. Not on HTC, not on Apple, not on moto.
Deathtouch does, and the media and public notice that.
For Apple, this is not going away any time soon. Every new iPhone will be touched every which way. It will be a fondling free for all.
Apple's next phone is a year away.
HTC, Samsung, Moto? Next phone is next week.

@zero credibility
Your welcome. May you please point out how exactly my post is an example of "limited comprehension". We are not discussing the principles of quantum entanglement here. It seems a rather simple situation to me. You don't like it you get something else. You like it you don't. What's the big deal? It is a cell phone after all.

Updated to include Dilber's Scott Adams, who's take is fairly similar, and a video via DF showing the Samsung Galaxy S suffering, if not from death-touch, than at least from death-finger.
No. Phone. Is. Safe.

I understand people's anger and issue over the "deathtouch", but only to a certain degree. I was informed about the issue, like most, shortly after the iPhone 4 release by a friend and BB slappy. My immediate response was, I always keep my phone in a case, so it won't affect me. Furthermore, when I heard about the press conference I figured Apple was too arrogant to even offer a solution to it's customers. I give them credit for taking the steps they did, even if it does come off as childish to also lay blame at everyone else's feet. Stop Snitchin Apple.
In the end, I will purchase an iPhone 4 because, based on my own research, it's the best phone I can find on AT&T for my needs and wants. It seems the media has taken an issue that is a minor annoyance and beat on it to the point where it's World War III. If you don't want to have your phone in a free case provided by Apple, DON'T BUY AN IPHONE 4. If you don't like the way Apple dealt with the issue, DON'T BUY AN IPHONE 4. If you think AT&T is a crappy company with a crappy network, DON'T BUY AN IPHONE 4. If you bought an iPhone 4 and don't like it for any reason, you're still within 30 days, so RETURN IT AND GET SOMETHING ELSE. It just seems like people want to take every opportunity to rake Apple over the coals because of an issue that is real, but not really a huge deal. Wake me when phones start exploding in people's faces or something truly horrible because it seems like this is a lot of talk about almost nothing.

while the fact they deflected the issue and raised a larger one is true, it hasnt helped them, rather than here lets all have free cases, we know we messed up and that being an end to it, its now rolling on, and the more it rolls on, no matter how they play it, the more people see signal issues and iphone in the same sentence. also now there are reports coming in saying that 3GS models are freezing iOS4 on SMS, and taking forever to recieve SMS (reported by BBC) its far from helping them. Apple had a chance to gracefully say sorry and let everything blow over, they didnt take it.

Christ this is getting boring!
I feel sorry for all the guys who aren't going to buy one now as they're missing out on what I believe is the best smartphone on the market. Their loss though...

@chieze: me either. I think that for the average person, the details of what went on at the press conference are going to be more or less lost, and what is going to remain in the forefront of their mind is "iPhone? that's the one that has all those reception problems, right?"
But I think that in the fullness of time, this is going to blow over. Apple will issue out free cases for a while, then they're be some kind of 4.1 version of the hardware, and people will sort of forget about this. But "sort of" is the key word - there's unquestionably some damage done to Apple's brand here, and it's going to take a while to completely work that out. The issue of problems other phones may have is a red herring, and is being seen as such.

"The issue of problems other phones may have is a red herring, and is being seen as such."
Really? Then why is there a poll on almost every support or fan forum for non-iphones? Apple successfully made this an industry wide problem. So that its not their problem alone.
Did Apple make everyone happy? Of course not. There's links posted above that prove that. And as long as an apple controversy means more hits, media will continue to stretch it out.
Did Apple do enough to get by this? Yep. Hell, their brand alone is powerful enough to weather this storm. But the act of admitting a mistake and handing out bumpers should easily be the icing on this cake.
Apple's chance to really leave this overblown issue behind won't arrive til iphone 5. Sales of iphone 4's will be fine. Those worrying that this issue will affect sales? Apple can't make these fast enough. They couldn't possibly sell anymore then they are now.
In addition, i expect Apple to blow past wall streets predictions like they always do. That dip in the stock price? Good time to buy.

Some other idiot analyst mentioned Droid X's success as a way to indicate why apple's stock may have fallen.
The Droid is on Verizon. It's not like these verizon buyers were going to buy iphones on at&t instead. Very few change carriers.
Now if the Captivate sells out and remains a success for the next quarter, then that could be seen as something...

I dont understand why people continue to ignore facts!? I have a Blackberry and tried gripping the phone and it indeed lost several bars in a weak reception area. I have wanted an iphone since they came out (I just refuse to switch to att). Why are people so insistent on bashing the Apple? And why is Steve Jobs this huge dick for defending his company and pointing out an issue related to all phones? Its not like he is aimlessly bashing other companies...he used video evidence and facts to back every single thing he said. Instead of Blackberry, Android, and other smartphone users coming onto sites and bashing Apple, get some facts. Until then, this entire "Antennagate" is just ridiculous.

LOL! They only succeeded with moron fanboys. The rest of us, who have used other phones, saw it for the complete BS it was and is. And hey Rene, no post about the article that finally reveals that fanboys have been hating on ATT when the real problems have always been the phone? No fanboy or Apple ever answers the question - why don't BBs and other phones drop calls on the ATT network?
I have an iPhone and it's a nice pocket computer, but it is and always has been an utter fail as a phone. Nice to see people FINALLY point that out. Maybe Apple will focus on the functionality of the PHONE for a change. And yes, Steve's "statistics" about dropped calls are utter BS. I travel nationwide with these phones and they drop 40-50% of their calls. It's a known joke in my office and with clients "sorry for the disconnect - what can I say? I use an iPhone!"
Tip: if you're having lots of dropped calls in a particular location turn off 3G while making calls. The apple software cannot seem to handle the transition from edge to 3G and drops you off. Neither Apple or a fanboy will tell you that because then they'd have to admit apple wasbthe problem. And THAT can never happen!! They'd rather see you lose 10000 calls instead of telling you what to do.

40-50 percent dropped call rate and you still own the phone? And business no less? Come on. I have used plenty of other phones including many that trouble making the EDGE-to-3G switch. Here's a little hint, sell your 50 percent dropped call phone and call it a day. Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!

I moved from the Palm Pre to the Apple iPhone 4. I was a die-hard fan of Palm...but got sick of a crappily built device. Glad those days are gone.
I love the iPhone 4! Seriously, it is truly amazing what it can do.
However, the antanna issue is 100% real. It does not require a death grip. Just allowing to sit in your left hand, count to five, the signal fades...and then eventually, the call is dropped. This has happened to me many, many times. Dropped calls on my previous devices was extremely half a dozen times a year, maybe.
Apple: I love you, but the cheezy the-phone-isn't-perfect, let's-accuse-the-competition thing is weird. 'Fess up: it is a design flaw. Fix it and move on. Glad you're sending me a bumper, otherwise, this would probably had been a deal-breaker.

I can't believe you guys fell for that crap and still are. Apple has been working on this phone for over a year and how did something like this not be noticed. HTC, Moto, Samsung, etc..come out with many phones in a year so a design flaw is bound to happen but to a iPhone, c'mon man. I for one am not falling for SJs slight of hand. FCUK U!!!

Wow! I guess people read "iPhone 4" and "death-grip", skip ahead to the comments and begin to rant nonsensical.
To the question put forward by the author of this article. I don't believe that the antenna shortcomings of Apple's competitors will get to the forefront of popular media. Those devices simply are not ingrained in poplar culture like the iPhone is and like the iPod was/is in the MP3 player space. Only savvy consumers will file complaints with their mobile carriers or device manufactures, presenting idle Attorney-General threats. Some will get a hold of a sympathetic or disinterested customer service supervisor, who in turn will throw them a free case.
The iPhone 4 has been branded as defective and not even Steve Jobs can persuade all consumers to his point-of-view.

Your a dick if you drop 50% of your calls and still stick with the phone.
Do us a favour and piss off to Andriod or Blackberry then we don't need to put up with your crybaby whining.

Before so many claim Apple has screwed up over this let's just wait until September or so and see what effect it has on iP4 sales and their financial numbers - only then will we know if it has affected things. My bet is it'll still be the top selling smartphone on earth and return rates will still be lower than previous models, and Apple's profits will be through the roof.
AT&T have a lot to answer for, outside the USA this antennagate thing is a huge non-issue, there aren't enough weak reception areas in most places for it to affect things (in most cases the iP4 has much better reception than previous models) and all non-US customers are concerned with is how the hell they can lay their hands on an iP4!

Wait a second? don't all companies say they have the BEST product?
now you guys are using that against apple as well?
I suppose HTC and Motorola get up on stage and say they have a So So product, and they are second best.

Fernando is exactly right. I love that we're trying to make the point that in the mainstream, no one bought the snake oil this time around and we point to major mainstream news outlets to indicate such. The rebuttal is: "but there are polls on tech enthusiast websites!" Indeed.

Fernando is exactly right. I love that we're trying to make the point that in the mainstream, no one bought the snake oil this time around and we point to major mainstream news outlets to indicate such and the rebuttal is: "but there are polls on tech enthusiast websites!" Indeed.

Apple is comparing their premium high end devices to old and sometimes discontinued phones...
Who cares about the Droid Eris? ... Verizon doesn't even sell them anymore...
The Evo doesn't have a deathgrip problem
The Droid X doesn't have a deathgrip problem
The desire doesn't have a deathgrip problem
The Droid Incredible doesn't have a deathgrip problem... Those are the Iphone 4 competition.. not a droid eris ..

Aren't all these companies trying to make an "iPhone killer"? That's because they consider it the top of the line device. Companies learned long ago that they can make lots of money by making good enough products but that's not Apple's business model now is it and that's why the extra scrutiny.

I own several phones for work and pleasure, and none show any connection loss no matter how I try it... and believe me I've tried. These are 2 Nokias and 1 Sony Ericsson. No problem whatsoever. In all fairness, I have never had any problems with my iPhone 3GS.
I'm an Apple fan (sort of) but I think they went too far by involving other manufacturers. It reminds me of a small child who is caught at something and then immediately starts pointing fingers. Major letdown.