updated 11:20 am EDT, Thu July 15, 2010
Concerns of sr. engineer, cell carrier ignored?
As early as last year, Apple executives -- including CEO Steve Jobs -- were made aware that the bezel antenna on the iPhone 4 could cause problems, sources tapped by Bloomberg claim. The design team led by Jonathan Ive is said to have submitted several concepts before Jobs and other executives committed to the new antenna, which reduces the bulk of the device. Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert with Apple, is said to have used early planning meetings to warn about the possibility of dropped calls and the major engineering effort the new technology would require.
Apple is moreover said to have been warned by a cellular carrier that tests showed the possibility for reception issues. Whether Apple executives ignored this advice or assumed the trouble would be solved is not clear. A company spokesman, Steve Dowling, has declined to comment, and refused to make Caballero available for interviews.
One of the sources suggests that the fundamental weakness in the antenna design is the need to subdivide it into sections capable of handling different networks. There are seams in between each section, the person notes, and covering one with a finger introduces conductive material that interferes with signal. This is believed to explain why cases or even duct tape will eliminate the flaw.
While Apple is unlikely to admit much wrongdoing in tomorrow's press conference, the new revelations -- if substantiated, or even if not -- could provide fuel for several class action lawsuits. They may back claims that Apple knowingly shipped a defective product, committing fraud. Some critics have pointed out that the iPhone 4 bumper cases, Apple's first self-designed cases for an iPhone, conveniently cover little more than the antenna band.