The iPhone 4 was only launched last month, and has sold out almost everywhere already, but some users have experienced problems with their phones, forcing Apple to announce an emergency press conference later today. So is it a good time to buy your iPhone 4 now?
First of all, lets look at the biggest problem that users have been experiencing. The one that has attracted all the attention is the reception problems, particularly if you hold the phone in a particular way, which interferes with the external antenna.
Many users are reporting dropped calls and poor reception on the iPhone 4, which seems worse when you hold the iPhone in your left hand – presumably because that creates an unintentional electrical circuit between your hand and the antenna which interferes with the phones reception.
That sounds pretty bad, until you start to realise that most of the consumer complaints about this are coming from the USA. Now Americans are generally more ready to complain, than we reserved Brits, but the reception issues may be exacerbated by the problems faced by AT&T the mobile network in the States that has become over burdened with delivering bandwidth to the huge growth in smart phone usage.
The UK has a better mobile phone and data network, and more bandwidth providers (O2, Three, Vodafone, Orange) than the United States so maybe UK users receive a stronger signal anyway, which helps overcome the antenna problem. That said, we do know of UK users who have experienced some connectivity problems and think the iPhone 4 gets worse reception that their iPhone 3.
Will the iPhone case or bumper work?
You can buy a rubber bumper that wraps around the iPhone and prevents your hand from coming into contact with that antenna. It also protects that valuable item from knocks.
Consumer Reports, the American version of Which?, who have advised consumers to steer clear of the iPhone 4, are stating that the bumper does solve the reception issues.
Apple sell them for a costly £25, but an iPhone 4 Invisible Shield, which provides better protection may resolve the reception problem and only costs £14.99.
Will there be a product recall of the iPhone 4?
With all the negative publicity about the iPhone 4 problems, Apple has to do something to appease its millions of customers and all those prospective new customers. It has to acknowledge that there is an issue, although the company will probably blame it on a software issue that can be fixed with an update rather than a hardware problem that requires a product recall.
We personally think that it is very unlikely that Apple will announce a product recall. There would be substantial damage to its reputation, its share price and its almost god like image. It would also be very costly.
Instead we believe that Apple will not recall the phones but will try and appease its customers. It could do this very simply by providing a free bumper. That solves the problem, as Consumer Reports have found, and helps redeem some of the negative publicity and ill feelings. It would also cost Apple far less than a product recall.
So should you buy an iPhone 4 now?
Although it is very likely that Apple will acknowledge that there are reception problems with the iPhone 4, we believe that they will fix these in later production runs so it does make sense to wait until some of the teething problems have been rectified.
Having said that, though, it depends on how eager you are to own an iPhone 4. Stock is in short supply but is available online at Orange and via Tesco Phone shops. If you really want one now, and Apple do provide a free bumper, then we see no reason why you shouldn’t go ahead.
There are alternatives to the iPhone 4, such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and the Samsung Galaxy S, but they are not iPhones after all.