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Apple, AT&T Sued Over iPhone 4 Antennas 435

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the had-to-happen-eventually dept.
bannable writes "Apple has been accused of violation of the Federal Communications Act, three counts of products liability related to negligence, defect in design and breach of implied warranty, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, fraud by concealment, unfair business practices and more. 'The iPhone 4 manifests design and manufacturing defects that were known to Defendants before it was released which were not disclosed to consumers, namely, a connection problem caused by the iPhone 4's antenna configuration that makes it difficult or impossible to maintain a connection to AT&T's network,' the California complaint reads."
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Apple, AT&T Sued Over iPhone 4 Antennas

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  • Re:Just Return It (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:43AM (#32757160)

    you've got 15 days to return a phone per their contract agreement for buyers remorse.

  • Re:Just Return It (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:44AM (#32757180)

    In most states a lemon law/buyers remorse period will protect you from being stuck in the contract and most carriers give you 15 days or more to return any hardware and get out of your contract. You can even port your number back over to a more reliable carrier.

  • by Animaether (411575) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:49AM (#32757262) Journal

    Yes, but everybody is part of the class -unless- they opt out. That means that if they just happen to never even hear about the class action for them to opt out.. guess what? tough luck.

  • by acomj (20611) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:51AM (#32757296) Homepage

    Ars has some good analysis. Seeing the games companies play with signal bars apples are oddly accurate... and logarithmic...

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/06/putting-hard-numbers-to-the-iphone-4-antenna-issue.ars [arstechnica.com]

    I don't know what % of iphone users use cases, but I'd imagine its a fairly high %.

  • by Itchyeyes (908311) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:51AM (#32757306) Homepage

    I didn't call it anything. That's from a page made about 8 years ago that applies strikingly well, to this day, to just about every Apple product launch.

  • ATT's return policy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wiarumas (919682) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:52AM (#32757318)
    ATT has a return policy where you can exchange a phone for another one within 30 days:

    http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/legal/return-policy.jsp [att.com]

  • Re:Just Return It (Score:5, Informative)

    by PPalmgren (1009823) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @10:55AM (#32757370)

    Anandtech just popped out a fantastic writeup on this issue in their iPhone 4 review. Check it out, its very informative for those who don't have basic antenna design knowledge from EE in college. To paraphrase, it reduces signal by up to 27 dbm, which is almost 50% of normal signal range. (50 to 113 dbm). This will not effect you or show on your bars if you get a better signal than ~75 dbm on a normal basis.

    Pretty much anyone who has had an introductory course in EE should have forseen this after the keynote...including their employees. It is a case of gross engineering negligence. Yes, interference does happen with all phones, but the effect is much more pronounced with the iPhone 4 due to an exposed antenna and lack of spending to fix / spot the issue.

    In short, your anecdote doesn't address the problem because you are in a good coverage area, and the signal degredation doesn't ruin your reception.

  • Re:Not surprisingly (Score:4, Informative)

    by delinear (991444) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:01AM (#32757486)
    Yeah, it might be this guy [xckd.com].
  • Re:Just Return It (Score:4, Informative)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:04AM (#32757534)

    Anandtech just popped out a fantastic writeup on this issue in their iPhone 4 review. Check it out, its very informative for those who don't have basic antenna design knowledge from EE in college. To paraphrase, it reduces signal by up to 27 dbm, which is almost 50% of normal signal range. (50 to 113 dbm). This will not effect you or show on your bars if you get a better signal than ~75 dbm on a normal basis.

    Pretty much anyone who has had an introductory course in EE should have forseen this after the keynote...including their employees. It is a case of gross engineering negligence. Yes, interference does happen with all phones, but the effect is much more pronounced with the iPhone 4 due to an exposed antenna and lack of spending to fix / spot the issue.

    In short, your anecdote doesn't address the problem because you are in a good coverage area, and the signal degredation doesn't ruin your reception.

    Showing again why Anand runs the best tech site on the internet. Mod the parent up and everyone go read http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2 [anandtech.com] before posting saying that the antenna problem makes the phone unusable or posting that is has no effect.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:09AM (#32757614)

    Well, don't let the facts get in the way of a good indignant rant, but in point of fact the members of the class are notified by mail. I typically get one or two such notices each year.

    Next you complain that the notices are too long and nobody reads them, and then I point out you don't have to read them becuase you should know that there's always a right to opt out and all you have to do is find the info on how to do so.

    If you can't be bothered to do that, it's apparently not that important to you to preserve the right to sue individually... which is probably because you already thought it through and realized your individual damages wouldn't justify the costs you would incur filing an individual action.

    That, of course, is exactly why there is such a thing as a class action lawsuit. The concept of class action is not a bad one - the problem is with the settlement structure.

  • by Xuranova (160813) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:20AM (#32757784)

    What I didn't realise until I read a review recently is that although the Bumper solves the antenna issue, it means that you cannot plug in your standard iPod/iPhone connectors!

    I have my iphone plugged in with the bumper now. There's a clearly defined hole of which to plug in the connector. Perhaps your reviewers got the bumper installed upside down?

    http://i1034.photobucket.com/albums/a429/MalfoyR/bumperplug.jpg?t=1277997549 [photobucket.com]

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:24AM (#32757840)
    In the U.S. you *automatically* join a class action lawsuit whether you want to or not. You have to specifically opt-*out* of the lawsuit if you are a "member." And if you happen to not hear about it (and a notice can be as little as a small ad in a newspaper), then oops, you've just given up your right to sue without even being aware of it.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:30AM (#32757952)

    It's not exactly about the phone. Yes, you CAN return the phone, but it's too late at that point - now you're in a 2-year AT&T contract, that you then have to pay $375 to get out of ...

    I just went through AT&T's iPhone 4 online upgrade process far enough to be shown:
    Service Cancellation & Early Termination Fee
    Call the number on your invoice/receipt to cancel your service. You may cancel service within 30 days from the activation date to avoid the applicable early termination fee (the "Early Termination Fee" or "ETF").

    --
    Perpenso Calc [perpenso.com] for iPhone. Classic Scientific and HEX functionality plus RPN, fractions, complex numbers, 64/32/signed/unsigned bitwise operations, UTF-8, IEEE FP decode, and RGB decode with color preview.

  • Re:Just Return It (Score:3, Informative)

    by stewbee (1019450) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @11:56AM (#32758280)
    If you are thinking in a strictly linear scale, then you are right. However, it covers about 50% of the logarithmic scale. Poor choice of wording on the GP's post, but not necessarily incorrect either.

    As a side note, RF signals are usually measured in power, since that give a better idea of what is in the air to be received. The power levels received are dependent on two intertwined quantities; the voltage and the impedance of the receiver. Since impedances can vary from system to system this makes power the norm. The difference in powers able to be received is 10^((113-50)/10) ~= 2e6 of dynamic range. This is a huge difference. It is not unusual for receivers to have this dynamic range. Although, 27 dB is a huge hit to suffer.
  • by wfolta (603698) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:04PM (#32758388)

    No, most reports out there talk about looking at bars and seeing them drop dramatically. NOT about actually having dropped calls.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2 [anandtech.com]

  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:09PM (#32758460) Homepage Journal

    AFFECT is a transitive verb. "I can affect your computer's operation with this sledgehammer."

    EFFECT is an object of action. "The effect of my hitting your computer with my sledgehammer is a reduction in idiotic posts on the wacky."

    please everybody to get this correct in the future.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:30PM (#32758796) Journal

    The FCC does it;s own testing, and Apple also has to have very specific scientific tests of the radio done as well, before they can even put the prototype in the hands of a field tester on the network. You know not of what you speak. Pleas stop spreading FUD. This was extensively tested, and even with a 19dB drop off, was found to be superior to the previous iPhone, hold calls at lower dB, and even when held, have more dB than the 3GS and several other tested phones.

    Quit buying the bullshit and look at some (finally released yesterday) scientific data. Everything before yesterday was conjecture and perception, and had NO basis in reality or fact. This is not a problem, it's a perception of a problem.

  • by N Monkey (313423) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:31PM (#32758830)

    AFFECT is a transitive verb. "I can affect your computer's operation with this sledgehammer."

    EFFECT is an object of action. "The effect of my hitting your computer with my sledgehammer is a reduction in idiotic posts on the wacky."

    please everybody to get this correct in the future.

    Sorry to be a pedant, but "effect" can also be used as a verb in the sense of causing something. e.g. "To effect a change in the system we can swap the polarity".

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:47PM (#32759070) Homepage Journal

    No, it doesn't require flash. Most of it can be downloaded in a number of container types.

    Well the site I visit don't require flash.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:48PM (#32759074)
    To nit-pick your post, "24dBm" is a precise level, 24 dB above one milliwatt. a relative level drop should be expressed as 24 dB.
  • Re:Good riddance (Score:3, Informative)

    by godawful (84526) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:51PM (#32759128)

    My understanding is that people are judging things by "how many bars are on my phone?".. not "can i still make a phone call?"

    Anandtech [anandtech.com] has a very thorough review of the iPhone 4.. but in particular page [anandtech.com] which talks in depth the changes happening when one uses the grip o' death, etc etc.

    Such as:

    From my day of testing, I've determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I've never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it's readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use.

  • by Sandbags (964742) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @12:59PM (#32759258) Journal

    I can't speak to sweaty hands, but if that's your situation, probably best you use bluetooth anyway (i know very few joggers who do any different, and fewer still who jog with a smartphone at all).

    As for AT&T coverage, I don;t care about maps that cover places people don;t live. AT&T covers 97% of us with a voice/data concurrent network. As for our firm, we had verizon, we dropped them. We're in a big city, and have offices in 15 others across 5 states, 15K employees over half of which have a company phone. 20% were complaining about verizon coverage, and more that there smartphone didn't work when they were on a call.

    On AT&T, we do very factually get more bars in more places, we only have 3% of people still complaining (small enough that we got the ones that mattered femtocells). We get 5 bars in every part of our corporate tower now, except 3 in the elevator and basement. We can SEE the Verizon tower from the building, the AT&T tower is a mile farther away, yet AT&T gets us better signal, fewer dropped calls (we actually track that btw), far superior 3G speed, and we can actually check e-mail while on a call, or use GPS and be on a call, which was not possible on Verizon (nor sprint).

    Even in NY, signal stability is up 70% in a year with 40% more airtime available, thanks to a few hundred million AT&T spent, and some frequency trading in the 850MHz band the FCC helped them out with to get more airspace. SF is working better, and getting better weekly. I was in manhattan 4 weeks ago for several hours, and in NJ most of a weekend. 4 iPhones and an iPad, not a single dropped call. 2 verizon phones and 1 sprint, 16 dropped calls. On a 650 mile road trip, pandora didn't stop streaming on the 1 phone one time.

    Also, 19db drop, that's still got more signal than a 3GS sitting on a table, or a nexus one. and at the same db, very weak -119db signal, the iPhone 4 did calls and data concurrency, where the 3GS could not even hit the tower, nor the nexus.

    This issue is entirely a user perception one based on how the carriers want to see "more bars in more places" by dramatically lowering the threshold of 5 bars to where 2 bars used to live on the line...

  • Re:Just Return It (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:03PM (#32759334) Homepage Journal

    If you could actually return the phone, cancel the contract and get all your money back, you would be correct.

    sadly, you can't.

  • Re:Good riddance (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2010 @01:57PM (#32760350) Homepage Journal

    "I do think Apple deserve credit for finding a place in the phone to include an antenna that I presume to be much bigger than your standard patch antenna."

    I don't. Nobody with any antenna experience would make it so that it could so easily be bridged and artificially lengthened, unless the device were meant for tuning to multiple frequencies.

    And EXPOSING the antenna? I'm sorry, that's just the dumbest fucking move I've ever seen. I could understand it back in the 40s-80s when we were using lead-based paint and such and you might need to wrap some foil around the antenna to make it get better signal, but this is the new fucking millennium and even an amateur HAM wouldn't make such a stupid mistake.

  • Speaking as a class action attorney, you're all partially right and partially wrong. As for notice, class notice is an issue decided by the judge. And the main misunderstanding about class actions on slashdot, and what distorts the entire discussion about the subject, is the incorrect assumption that all class actions are consumer "coupon" suits.

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

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