Steve Jobs: 'We're not perfect, phones aren't perfect'

iPhone 4 signal issues to be addressed by Steve Jobs
iPhone 4 signal issues to be addressed by Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is hosting an emergency press conference to address the reception problems with the new iPhone 4.

"We're not perfect, phones aren't perfect. But we want to make all our users happy," Jobs told the crowd of tech journalists in Cupertino.

The new iPhone launched last June and has quickly become the fastest-selling smartphone that Apple has so far released.

However, there has been recurrent problems with the signal dropping off on the device if you don't hold it (as Jobs infamously said) 'properly' – hence today's press conference in Cupertino.

Antennagate at Apple

"We got reports about users having troubles with the antenna system," said Jobs. "The problems they were saying .. people were touching the 'x marks the spot'...this had been judged 'antennagate.'"

It has only been 22 days since launch, the Apple CEO added, telling the crowd: "we've got some of the finest scientists in the world...we want to find out what the real problem is before we find the solution...we've been working our butts off for the past 22 days to find out the real problem and the real solutions."

The Apple boss says all phones have problems with antenna reception, demo'ing how the issue affects the BlackBerry and HTC Droid, with Jobs noting: "The time it takes for the bars to go down depends on the algorithm."

Jobs also points to the Samsung Omnia 2 and says this is "life in the smartphone world" and that "every phone has weak spots."

According to Jobs Apple using padded rooms to test for antenna reception, with the company having 17 of these "anecohoic chambers" at a cost of $100 million. There are 18 PhD scientists and engineers on staff to test for these things.

"We didn't think it would be a big problem because every phone has this issue," Jobs added.

Historically not a large problem

Jobs also says that the percentage of users who have called about antenna or reception issues is 0.55 per cent. "Historically for us, this is not a large number."

Following this, Jobs rolls out some recent figures on AT&T return rates for shipments, specifically comparing the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 3GS. For the 3GS, the return rate was 6 per cent whereas for the iPhone 4 it is (to date) 1.7 per cent.

Jobs says: "Returns at the largest iPhone reseller [AT&T], are a third of what they are for a phone that was regarded as spectacular a year ago."

Tellingly, Jobs then admits that the iPhone 4 calls drops more calls than the iPhone 3GS, although tries to make light of the fact by saying that it is less than one additional call per additional 100 calls compared to iPhone 3GS.

Adam Hartley