Nokia responds to Apple over antennagate

official response from Nokia to Apple's iPhone 4 press conference yesterday, despite Steve Jobs not demonstrating a death-grip on a Nokia phone the way they did RIM's BlackBerry, HTC's Droid Eris, and Samsung's Omnia. Here's the full response:

Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.

In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.

Matt Miller from our sibling site Nokia Experts claims similarly solid experience with Nokia devices over the years. However, Nokia might have done better just letting it lie. There will always be a few devices, like the Nokia E71, and a few users with access to YouTube, like the one in the video below, who do have problems. And now everyone with such a problem is going to start demanding free bumpers...

Update: Apple has added a video of the N95

[Nokia Experts, video via Electronista]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 26 comments. Add yours.

DDay says:

Lol. Well, since Apple is getting terrible press right now, let me take a moment and tell you why I'm awesome.

Bob Marley14 says:

Does Nokia still make cell phones?

iphonemilk says:

Buy an Iphone 4, get a free case.
Buy any other phone? you don't.
What does this mean? Thanks to internet Trolls, buying an iPhone 4 has even more of a benefit now.

WilhelmR says:

Good to see nokia talking about user behavior, which is pretty much the biggest issue with the whole antennagate deal.
Had apple put that small gap at the top corner nobody would care :)

brindy says:

" There will always be a few devices, like the Nokia E71, and a few users with access to YouTube, like the one in the video below, who do have problems"
And that's Apple's problem - they only have one device (of this type) so they have to get it right first time. It's OK pointing the finger at other companies, but they have a range of devices which rise and fall over the years. Apple's only having one egg in their basket is likely to broken at some point.

Charles says:

Having worked for Nokia supporting r&d, I can honestly say reception issue is older than dirt. Apple took it square on the chin jumping in the mobile sector and will learn from this. I bought my i4 simply because it has a superb design and incredible features. Reception issue for me has not been an issue at all and I come a long line on N/E series devices. BTW, I predicted the free bumper for everyone - http://www.fonearena.com/blog/19581/insight-a-former-nokia-employee-on-t...

The Reptile says:

In other words this opened up a huge can of worms and we're not going to see the end of this for any manufacture until we get external antennas again.

FoxMcCloud says:

Apple doesn't "Have" to do anything. They've designed a reasonably reliable product that consumers want. Only a fraction of those consumers have complained of any problems. All these people calling Steve Jobs a whiner, to me seems like their whining more than he is. Ultimately, if you want an iPhone 4, you'll get one, if you don't, you won't. Interesting to mention, This "antenna issue" has been around since the existence of the antenna... If I touch the antenna on my FM radio, the station goes staticy, If I touch the antenna on a tv with a digital receiver, the picture breaks up. CB radio's, cordless phones, walkie-talkies, wireless routers, laptops, and pretty much anything that uses a radio frequency will attenuate to some degree when you touch the antenna. Stop whining and accept the fact that you WILL have dropped calls with any device at some point. It's un-avoidable and has been happening for many years so get over it, unless you can design and build a product that works better, you should bite your tongue.

derrr says:

hahah nokia's not a real company.

El Sapo says:

Basically it says: "NOKIA does research, Apple doesn't"

iPheuria says:

this is a joke because I've owned all Nokia cellphones since my first up to an N90 and they all had the most horrible reception that I was more lucky when I got reception. I was always glad about it because no one wantec to borrow my phone. I guess then they weren't investing in the phones.

Juan says:

I think that all mobile phone manufacturers invest thousands of man hours in antennae research & design. (Nokia felt it had to state that twice in their official Press Release). Apple's state of the art lab cost them serious, serious coin, and no doubt thousands of their own man hours. Yet, there still exists issues with reception in certain areas & with certain individuals. with several different phone models. As Steve Jobs said, until some engineer can re-write the laws of physics, the current antennae design will result in signal attenuation. It's simply something we must learn to deal with & move on.

roland eit eitler says:

nokia should just shut up.
all their cellphones are below subzero-standard - symbian OS an old relict of an former nokia-engineering skills.
none nokia phone can beat even the iPhone 3G - and especially not the 3GS and 4.
and:
for me the main problem is still not the phone is more the network coverage and quality of the operators! there wouldn´t be any problem at all (with any phone) if the operators would provide well working networks !

Jimbo says:

@Fox McCloud
" Interesting to mention, This “antenna issue” has been around since the existence of the antenna… If I touch the antenna on my FM radio, the station goes staticy"
Given that, a competent engineering team should: (pick one)
A) Design so that surface area/touch opportunities are minimized
B) Design so the antenna will be in skin contact from any angle, with an especially vulnerable spot in guaranteed to be in contact for anybody who cradles the phone in their left hand.

JNM says:

Apple's press conference was more about obfuscation and diffusion than making an actual effort to assist customers experiencing problems with their iPhone 4.
Jobs "forgot" to cover the fact that the complaints stem from users touching a part of the phone with ONE FINGER and causing the reception to disappear. Jobs also "forgot" to answer when asked directly about the issue of ONE FINGER causing the problem rather than some weird and intentionally detrimental grip on the phone. Jobs conveniently "forgot" to respond to someone else who ask if he would demonstrate on his BlackBerry Bold...especially with ONE FINGER.
This is not about this oddly named "death grip" rather this is about a single finger being placed on the iPhone 4 in a very common manner causing extremely serious reception problems. Blame was placed on users, other manufacturers, the network, and even the laws of physics. Apple is giving aways cases to get people to shut-up while also saying that there is nothing wrong with the iPhone 4 antenna that would necessitate this type of action. In other words, they feel that the iPhone has no flaw and people are just whining unnecessarily, yet they are willing to try to placate them with cases.
From a PR standpoint this press conference was a mistake. Apple should have released a statement on their website and called it a day.

BrianTufo says:

@JM you said "This is not about this oddly named “death grip” rather this is about a single finger being placed on the iPhone 4 in a very common manner causing extremely serious reception problems." ..... So you are telling me putting the tip of your finger in the lower left of a phone and ONLY your finger tip is a common manner? Have you ever held a phone before? Who holds a phone in that "common manner" as you call it?

Webvex says:

@JM, you are right. The "death grip," or blocking the antenna, and bridging/shorting two antennas are two completely different problems. Apple, and the blog fanboys, are trying to confuse the facts. Blocking the antenna on a device the size of a cellphone is a design limitation. Exposing conductive components is a design flaw.

fastlane says:

@JM:

Jobs “forgot” to cover the fact that the complaints stem from users touching a part of the phone with ONE FINGER and causing the reception to disappear.

No, he did not forget. He clearly mentions it at 00:04:30 in the video at Apple.com

Art VanBurenBoy says:

OK koolaid drinkiners,
As much as I love my iPhone, between 1995-2007 I owned nothing but Nokia and ALWAYS had the best reception on ANY of their phones.
Nokia is the best when it comes to quality testing products. They just didnt push it further when it comes to design and user interface and thats why they have fallen behind the past 3 years and probably wont even catch up .

lulz at the fanboys says:

Apple fanboys will never see anything wrong with their beloved phone. They won't see that Apple tried to hide its problems and point fingers at other companies. For all the real trolls out there, I have a 3Gs and I haven't upgraded because of the Antenna issue.

sheath94 says:

Who's the carrier, in the above video? It looks to me however coincidentally that the carrier is att, maybe the issue here is the carrier, and not the phone. Interesting concept I know... poor apple...

james t. kirk says:

If the purpose of the video was to show. It clearly didn't show well. All I saw was the top left of the phone. Not that I shouldn't believe him, but also not that I should believe him. If the antennae is at the top or bottom as Nokia says, then maybe the recorder isn't showing all there is to show. Although he could be doing as I imagine, though not for sure. Just looking at the facts. Everyone else should too.

Sgladd says:

It amazes me how many people marginalize art and design. Granted it's unfortunate that the new iPhone has a reception issue but I suppose these kind of things are always a possibility with a new product. Perhaps if Apple were to change it's marketing to be less secretive and perform more real world testing they could avoid similar issues in the future. There is certainly a danger in how they have positioned their brand and we are seeing that play out now. With the Droid gaining steam, this couldn't have happened at a worse time. To be fair, Apple deserves a lot of credit for basically creating a new standard for smart phone/data devices and love them or hate them they bring a refreshing approach to how we interact with tech.

Flip says:

Well what about if I don't like the bumper the problem that i have I don't want to use a bumper for my phone

graffic says:

I was thinkin on buying an iPhone 4. Then I heard about the antenna problem and the "death grip". After trying that on my current Nokia... It was amazing, it dropped all the bars ans switched to gsm from 3G. I just had to grip it.
I'm still playing with that. Like a child with a new toy.

coolsculpting va says:

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