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An Unprecedented Look At Apple's "Black Labs" 125

An anonymous reader writes "Apple recently granted ABC Nightline unprecedented access to its secretive 'black labs' where it puts upcoming products through exhaustive testing."
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An Unprecedented Look At Apple's "Black Labs"

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  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:07AM (#33029314)

    Apple's demo videos seem faked. I have a friend with a Droid X and another with an Eris (I personally have a Nexus One - which is very similar to the Eris) - both of which seem to have negligible signal loss no matter how I hold them (at first using their video as a reference). Eris dropped a whopping 6 db signal when I held both hands around the bottom of the phone - and I have really sweaty hands most of the time. There really is no way to just hold the phone like normal or even abnormal and go from full signal to zero.

    The Droid-X actually has two antennas - one at the top and bottom - holding both had similar effect.

    I've only been able to handle one iPhone 4 - and just touching the two antennas on the gap for me (again sweaty hands) causes reasonably large signal loss (I really don't know because unlike Android the iPhone doesn't have an actual s-meter buried anywhere it seems).

  • Re:Considering ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sonnejw0 ( 1114901 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:20AM (#33029480)
    I think it's QC, not R&D. An Apple store recently opened near me so I got to play with some iPhone4's for a while in the store, and I might go back because I found some interesting things. Two iPhone4's right next to each other, one dropped to 0 bars in the store within 30 seconds of merely touching the antenna gap, the other one dropped 2 bars after a couple minutes of death gripping it. There was NO discernable exterior difference in the phones. I even scratched at the metal to try to see any noticeable polyvinyl coating on one v the other. At that point, the third "Genius" in a matter of 90 seconds asked if I needed any help, so I began to feel awkward poking at the phone (it was very busy in the store).

    I would not be surprised if one manufacturing plant in China has a poor Quality Control or Quality Assurance division that just is not doing their job. I've seen pictures of iPhones with reversed volume controls on the side, and this lends to that explanation, and to Apple's personal assurances that they've thoroughly tested these phones. A coating of some sort should be sufficient to abrogate any conductivity, and it does not make sense that Apple did not think of that. I might return and take a look at the batch numbers on the back of the iPhones I played with in the store. I'm still not buying one, because I have no idea if I'm going to get one that works or one that does not, and I'm not playing games with the return people. By the time they get it sorted out, if ever, the Next Big Thing will probably be out. I still own the original iPhone, because nothing has seemed worth the upgrade yet.
  • by hellfire ( 86129 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vdalived]> on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:55AM (#33030054) Homepage

    This is not a defense of Apple, but a statement about how large corporations work. I seriously doubt that the videos were completely faked. As with anything, the results can be spun or manipulated, but there has to be a least a shred of truth, or the lawyer attack dogs would be out by now.

    Apple basically called out every single smartphone developer and said "you all suck too!" and posted videos to "prove" it. Those companies all responded so far with nothing but the same tired PR statements. If Apple was actually slandering these other phones and faked the results entirely, I'm sure these companies would love to have some extra cash plus a chance to smear one of their biggest competitors.

    Now, Apple's video proof is mostly annecdotal since it's one phone and one hand. Yours is too, however. I know people who say they can't make the Apple Antenna issue happen on the iPhone 4, and I see videos on Youtube posted both before and after the iPhone 4 that point out signal loss issues with other smartphones. All of this evidence is, again, annecdotal.

    From a scientific standpoint, you have to admit Apple's doing a good job of basically trying to throw a bunch of "proof" out there and making people pick thru it. It stirs in just enough doubt to make everyone stop and think. The hard core haters and fanboys won't change their mind, but this is like election politics, it's not about swaying everyone, just trying to tilt the balance in their favor.

  • by dogzilla ( 83896 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:57AM (#33030094) Homepage
    I don't have an iPhone 4, but I've been following this pretty closely as I'm interesting in buying one. One thing I note is a similarity between what many people report with the iPhone and what you describe with the Droid X. This is borne out by those people I personally know who already own an iPhone 4 - none of them have reported a problem in daily use. Two of 4 report being able to cause the issue although it doesn't affect them in normal use, the other 2 can't seem to replicate the issue. I don't personally know any Droid X owners. This really feels like a silly manufactured issue that now has a life of its own with the sniping back and forth. I have a lot of trouble believing that a major company like Apple would fake a video with a competitor's product though. Maybe back in the days of Edison and Tesla, but I don't buy that anyone would do that today.
  • Uhh.... A battery failure that wasn't their fault and unsightly fine cracks? You fanboys have resorted to just making things up, havnt you. Go play halo er something.

    Uh oh, I made one of them mad. Hopefully he didn't spill his organic espresso on his vintage Ramones t-shirt, or his underemployed coworkers down at the indie record store will make fun of him.

    Out of the two macs I've owned, one ultimately died because the power supply burnt out (which has never happened with any of the dozen or so PCs I've owned in my life), and the other, a macbook, stopped sending data to the screen because of a poorly designed hinge (Apple fixed it once, but would not fix it the second time it happened).

    And maybe I WILL play Halo when I get home. It's an excellent game.
  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:26PM (#33039194)

    This is not a defense of Apple, but a statement about how large corporations work. I seriously doubt that the videos were completely faked. As with anything, the results can be spun or manipulated, but there has to be a least a shred of truth, or the lawyer attack dogs would be out by now.

    I have a very good idea as to how marketing works, I used to work for a marketing^W, sorry Corporate Communications company.

    It is far easier to fake the results you want then to go through an elaborate testing procedure and attempt to spin everything. When we need a picture that conveys a certain message we'll send it to the photoshop guys rather then waiting for the right time of day, hoping the weather is OK, meticulously establishing a set, taking a dozen pictures and hoping one is usable.

    Faking images is standard operating procedure. I have no doubt the significant drop in bars was a complete fabrication. Apple could not afford to play this one by chance and seeing as no-one has been able to replicated the issue as Apple presented it I doubt the results they showed were real.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner