iPhone 4’s FaceTime commercial shows you exactly how not to hold your new iPhone

By now we all know the story about the iPhone 4’s reception issues, specifically those involving a dramatically reduced signal if you hold the phone in your left hand, with the lower portion of your palm covering the bottom left quadrant of the iPhone’s bezel-based antennae.

In fact, the problem can be replicated by simply holding the phone on either side, just where the bezel gaps are.

The reception problem is frustrating enough. But what’s more annoying is that Apple is treating the problem not as a hardware issue –– one that needs to be fixed –– but rather as a communications problem, one that requires gently prodding disappointed customers into the false realization that this is a non-issue.

Recently, when one customer emailed Steve Jobs to complain, Jobs famously replied, “Just avoid holding it that way.”

Apple has since added slightly more finesse to the company line, but the bottom line remains the same: customers should shutup and be happy with what they have:

Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

But note that even Apple’s own commercials depict users holding the phone in the exact opposite way Jobs and Apple say you should. Absent from the iPhone 4 commercial are cases or bumbers, with nary a glitch or a slowdown in reception.

See my screenshots below from the latest Apple iPhone 4 FaceTime video.

Apple’s own marketing depicts the phone being used incorrectly, and in a way that compromises voice and data performance:

How Apple employees are instructed to handle iPhone 4 reception complaints

Apple is taking the public relations approach to the iPhone 4 reception issue, according to a leaked document that purports to instruct Apple employees how to address complaints to less-than-satisfied customers.

This is disappointing to those of us who had hoped Apple would provide iPhone 4 customers with free Bumpers, which have shown to resolve the problem (but which sell for $29 at the Apple Store).

Here are instructions to Apple employees, via BoyGeniusReport:

1. Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy – your tone when delivering this information is important.

a. The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4’s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.

b. Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.

c. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.

d. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.

e. The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.

2. Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns.

3. Don’t forget YOU STILL NEED to probe and troubleshoot. If a customer calls about their reception while the phone is sitting on a table (not being held) it is not the metal band.

4. ONLY escalate if the issue exists when the phone is not held AND you cannot resolve it.

5. We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON’T promise a free bumper to customers.

A review of the iPhone 4, as written from an iPhone 4 at 35,000 feet

I received the iPhone 4 yesterday, a day before the official launch, which gave me time to become familiar with the device before hopping on a plane to Washington D.C. this morning. I’m actually writing this post on the plane, using the WordPress for iPhone app, and typing and editing is very easy.

The iPhone 4 goes far beyond my expectations. Most impressive is its Retina Display, which creates a crystal clear visual experience with very high resolution. I’ve also been having fun with the 5MP camera and high definition video recorder. I plan on shooting lots of video and pictures while traveling this weekend and will post them as they’re available.

The iPhone 4 feels good to hold. Both the front and the back are made of a relatively sturdy glass. I’m not anxious to see how it holds up to drops and dings, but so far it feels very tough.

The phone is lightning fast, relying on a new A4 chip and the new iOS4 operating system.

I think Apple has raised the bar substantially with this one.

New York Times profiles Foxconn factory worker

Yuan Yandong is a worker at Foxconn, a major manufacturer of consumer electronics for companies like Apple. The New York Times profiles Yuan and explores conditions inside the Chinese manufacturer:

Mr. Yuan (pronounced yu-wen) wakes at 6:10 p.m. at his small apartment, a 20-minute walk from Foxconn’s campus. He arrives at the factory at 6:50 for a quick free meal at the canteen, then starts work at 7:30.

His task is to help complete 1,600 hard drives — his workshop’s daily quota — and to make sure every one is perfect. Seated in the middle of the assembly line in his black Foxconn sports shirt, cotton slacks and company-mandated white plastic slippers, he waits for the conveyor belt to deliver a partly assembled rectangular hard drive to his station. He places two plastic chips inside the drive’s casing, inserts a device that redirects light in the drive and then fastens four screws with an electric screwdriver before sending the drive down the line. He has exactly one minute to complete the multistep task.

Working at a company known for its precision manufacturing and military-style regimentation is not easy. Mr. Yuan can take his cellphone to work, as long as it doesn’t have a camera, but no MP3 players are allowed. He can chat with other line workers, but on the line there are no wasted movements; they have been analyzed and tested with a stopwatch, he said.

“If you do the same thing all day long you can become numb,” he said. “But I’ve gotten used to doing this type of work.”

Ecto blogging software for Mac OSX

I’m looking at tools that can streamline my WordPress publishing process. I’m always looking for the easiest way to send content to my blogs.

For quick text posts like this one, logging onto WordPress and formatting and adding tags can be a bit more troublesome than it’s worth.

This evening I’m trying Ecto, which works very much like a simple text editor.

Features include:

  • Flickr integration
  • Tagging and categorizing
  • Extremely lightweight

I really like Ecto’s ability to tag content and quickly post. It’s available for a 21-day free trial, then it’s $19.95. A little bit steep, but worth it if it stands up to the test.

The rookie card that all dreams were made of

I was 12 years old when Upper Deck released its inaugural set of baseball cards in 1989. The anchor of that set was card #1, Ken Griffey Jr. That card helped turn the hobby of sports card collecting into a serious business, and contributed to the rise — and eventual fall — of the industry.

Slate offers a terrific article on the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffer Jr. card, and explains how it broke the hearts of 12-year olds in more ways than one:

When Griffey welcomed collectors to the very first Upper Deck set, investment was just about to trump fun in the card world. Kids had started putting their collections in plastic sheets and hard cases rather than bicycle spokes and shoe boxes, and investors would cross-check every card picked from a pack against the latest issue of Beckett’s price guide. It was in this environment that Upper Deck launched in 1989 as the first premium baseball card, protected from the threat of counterfeiting with a hologram on each card, protected from the stain of the wax pack thanks to its unprecedented foil wrappers. There was no gum included, and packs cost an industry-high $1. Baseball cards were serious business.

From the very beginning, card buffs saw the Upper Deck No. 1 as not just a collectible, but as an investment. Baseball card fans, who had once traded away duplicate cards in a quest to compile a complete set, started hoarding as many Griffeys as they could. Collectors’ hands would shake when they saw Griffey’s face in their pack, confident that this card would be the key to financing a college education.

Read the full article.