Apple is hiring iPhone antenna engineers. I wonder why.

apple-job-search-antenna-engineers.jpg Engadget reported this morning that Apple is hiring iPhone/iPad antenna engineers. Now Gizmodo has posted images from the first class action lawsuit against Apple and AT&T for general negligence and design defects, among other things. I just got the new iPhone4 last week after five years with a non-smart T-mobile handset; even though I'd heard of dropped calls and bad reception before, it's really something else to experience it first-hand. Calls really just drop! And it's ridiculous that I have to try not to hold the phone a certain way when I'm using it.


  1. Lisa, at the risk of asking a personal question in a public forum, are you left-handed? Or are the drop-outs affecting righties as well?

  2. Welp, last week Xeni’s posts made me think about getting one. And now this post is making me think about waiting for an iPod Touch 4.0.

    The circle of life!

  3. Lisa, have you tried putting the phone inside a case? That’s supposed to help significantly, from what I understand.

    Of course, AT&T was never all that reliable anyway…

  4. Um, did you consider going with an Android phone instead? The taste of freedom is hard to convey but worth looking into.

  5. I’m beginning to think that AT/T was getting lots of blame that should in part be Apple’s fault (even for 3G & 3Gs models).

  6. Props to the first person who can find three recent resumés posted on Monster or Workopolis by engineers with recent experience at Apple.

  7. “have you tried putting the phone inside a case”

    I love that. I know people are trying to be helpful, but it’s hilarious. You’re holding it wrong, you need a case, try rubbing your head.
    Or dipping your finger in water.
    It’s defective; they laid a big fat turd right on every fan boys chest and they are calling it hot fudge.

  8. Ooh! I have experience “holding the phone in a certain way to keep it from dropping calls.” (An old Ericsson.)

    Can I turn this experience into a paid consulting role?

    Either that or you can mail me your new iPhone, and it won’t bother you anymore.

  9. Is there a newly extended definition of EPIC FAIL in here someplace? How much more tragically could something go wrong other than continued sales of a hand held after it becomes widely understood that its antenna design is thwarted by hand holding and the lawsuits have begun?

    1. I submit that all the piling on every time Apple (or any other company) misses your own outrageous and false expectations of their infallibility might just constitute a newly extended definition of epic fail.

      What a waste of your collective time.

      1. As regards the topic, I don’t recommend going to the front of the line to buy anything. 95% of the time it is best to see how a thing “proves out.” Of course, anyone who cares to is free to play with their own money.

        As regards my expectations I said nothing about them.

      2. “I submit that all the piling on every time Apple (or any other company) misses your own outrageous and false expectations of their infallibility might just constitute a newly extended definition of epic fail.”

        Apple market themselves as a high-quality manufacturer. They tell us their products are simple and reliable, so why shouldn’t we hold them to that promise? Nobody forced Apple to hype themselves. They did it to sell more iPhones and now they have to deliver.

        Anyway, it’s not unrealistic in the slightest to expect a cellphone not to drop calls, and to be able to hold it however feels comfortable.

      3. Correct, mdh! The cycle of praise/criticism for a new Apple product is repeated for each one; 6 months later millions of customers will not even remember the issue. Apple takes shots that wouldn’t be made at any other mfr.

    2. Oh, I see. You thought me an interested buyer/user. No, I am just polite because I live in a face to face world.

      I wrote “continued sales,” rather than “continued purchases,” out of consideration toward the OP and other purchasers.

  10. There was a recent slashdot posting of a blog by an antenna engineer who described the FCC certification procedure, which involves testing the phone with a human head model but with NO HAND MODEL.

    They make sure the phone will transmit the proper amount of RF (enough to the cell tower, not very much to the cranium) while suspended on a non-absorbing test stand. This makes the test produce the best results with the antenna located at the bottom of the phone, and so causes the designers to place the antenna right where a hand will absorb the RF energy in real-world use.

    Perhaps this high-profile kerfluffle will cause the industry to apply realistic tests to their products.

  11. Does nobody see the pattern? Every time an Apple product is released everybody goes apeshit over something, it gets fixed, and the world keeps turning. I’ve learned to relax. I guess if it was such a piece of crap they could discontinue it…

  12. I’m just really curious why Lisa (or anyone, for that matter) would buy one of these things knowing that it had these flaws?

    I’ve had cell phones ranging from free to a few hundred dollars. Calls drop when I’m out of antenna range (e.g., when the train passed into the tunnel). Apart from that, no drops.

    So seriously, what is it about us that makes us pony up the bucks for something we know is busted just because it’s shiny-shiny or the latest thing?

    1. I was thinking the same thing… and the bb staff is in San Fran right? That’s the nexus of iPhone dropped calls!

      The hardware and software just doesn’t match up to the android phones- unless you think 2x the volume of fart apps is really that important.

  13. I haven’t had a dropped call with AT&T in the last 5 years that I’ve been with them (I had several before then, but the dropping stopped for good about 5 yrs back). But then again, I’ve never wanted an iphone or any kind of phone that does things that I’d rather do on a PC, with a full-size screen, keyboard and mouse. All I use my phone for is calls, and the occasional txt or photo, and I never have problems with them. I’ve used other people’s iphones, and I’ll admit they’re nice, but just not what I need, and too easy to scratch or break that fully-exposed screen. And then, we have Apple Corp itself, and their “bigger-than-God” business philosophy & practices. That’s what I think of whenever they wanna offer me a free (and probably stripped-down & refurb’ed) iphone with my renewal, and I always answer with a cold “no thanks”

  14. I bought an iPhone 4 on the first day of sales. I’ve had _less_ problems with dropped calls than with my 3gs. I dunno…maybe it’s the way I hold it (my left hand).

    Personally, I think the issue’s being exaggerated for various reasons (attempts to drive traffic to websites, glee at an major Apple misstep, or mass hysteria).

    However, I have had problems with the proximity sensor when talking on the phone. In the middle of a call, I’ll discover that my cheek started to attempt a FaceTime call, or turn the speaker phone on, or even try to make a 3-way call.

  15. Ah yes – the American Way. If it fails to live up to expectations in the first nanosecond, sue the arse off them.

    Here’s a few thoughts: what proportion of iPhone users are actually having problems? I know four users here in the UK all of whom have had zero problems. Until Apple get the opportunity to investigate the problem, throwing lawsuits around like so much confetti is just plain childish. It might be a particular production batch that’s the issue in which case I’m sure that Apple will step up to the plate and replace them.

    If it’s an antenna issue, then it can probably sorted in software especially as it appears that the antennae tuning is controlled by digitally adjustable capacitors. How many people here are qualified RF or antenna engineers. Do you have any comprehension of the complexities of the issues involved? Thought not!

    As to the news that Apple are hiring antenna engineers, do you seriously think that they’re doing it as a reaction to this news? And do you think that Apple don’t already employ some serious talent in this field already? Give me a break! Has no one thought that it might be more to do with future product designs Apple has in their pipeline?

    The implication of this furore seems to be that Apple designed the antennas in an ad hoc and cavalier fashion. Do you know how ridiculous this sounds? If the problem is still around after a few months, then a lawsuit might be appropriate but to start litigating a scant weeks after the device’s release, and without giving Apple the courtesy of addressing the problem, is utterly shameful.

    Grow a pair – there are more important things in life!


  16. This comment is #27, so who knows how many of you will read it, but here is the scoop as I understand it:

    All iPhone 4’s (and I tested it on display models in the Apple store) have an external wifi and cellular antenna that need to remain separated in order to operate. That separation is that little break on the lower-left corner. If you bridge the gap with you flesh (even if it is just a finger-tip) you will kill the cellular reception on the phone, even to the point of causing lost calls.

    Because it is not a question of blocking cellular reception, but of closing a circuit, the problem can be fixed with any case that covers those antennas (all of them I think), or even just a piece of scotch tape.

  17. Apple can screw up. Just like Google did with their (HTC) antenna problems. Both blame their exclusive carrier’s network. I wonder what problems the Droid X will have?

    1. Apple can screw up. Just like Google did with their (HTC) antenna problems.

      You mean “Just like HTC did with their antenna problems” right?

      Don’t drag Google into this fuck-up when all they do is write the software and have nothing to do with HTC hardware design. You, sir, are another mindless ifail apologist (and it’s easy to see).

  18. I just don’t think you guys are applying enough of the cooling gel. I’ve been using by c-phone for years, and it always works for the entire 50 second duration of the one call I can make before recharging.

    It’s a quality phone!

    Go Cinco!

    It’s a quality phone!

  19. Zac sums it up well. Put a ‘bumper’ on the phone to prevent bridging the gap, and it’s over with, you should get better reception than with the old internal antenna. My suspicion is that this is why Apple released their “bumper” at the same time as the phone itself. Hmm.

  20. First, this post is funny. Funny as in ha ha. If you didn’t chuckle a little seeing the screen shot, maybe you need to pull back a little with the corporate cheer leading? This should illicit a chuckle from even a fanboi, not indignant fist shaking to LEAVE APPLE ALONE!!!

    Second, kicking Apple in the face is fun. It is like kicking Microsoft of old in the face when they were not so beleaguered and pathetic looking. What isn’t fun about poking and making fun of a big monolithic company with an OCD urge to lock down and control everything from hardware, software, and apps… though I hear in the new iPhone you are actually granted the privilege of changing your background. Hey man, baby steps.

  21. Just another Apple problem. They seem to miss the basics. After all antennas have been around before Cell Phones. And what about the Garden of Eden and Eve?

  22. Apple shouldn’t have any trouble finding antenna engineers, judging by all the iPhone comment threads I’ve read, the internet is suddenly full of antenna experts.

    Captcha: endless call

  23. At least they aren’t claiming that it’s a feature to ‘guarantee a quality user experience’.

    Apple: good thing I didnt buy any of your icrap… otherwise I would now feel cheated.

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