Brand New Bricks
When you’re planning to buy something expensive, we all know that the best part of the whole experience, the bit where our bodies get the rush from, is buying the item itself. Not using it, not showing it off, just plain old ‘swopping some money for it at the cash register’. If you’re sitting there calling shenanigans on this, seriously listen up, it’s science now.
So, in theory, if you found out you didn’t buy a working iPhone and accidentally bought a useless block of plastic, metal, and silicon, you’d still be too high off the dopamine rush to care, right? Not so it turns out. In fact, you might get as annoyed as many of the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who, on the day of the launch of the iPhone 3G, had to wait an hour for the phone to be activated centrally by the cell provider. Some individuals even had to wait two and a half hours for their phones to begin doing the thing they paid for it to do, namely, work. Incidentally, as a further insult to the dedicated Apple fanatics who queued up outside Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, some for two days, the first person to leave the store with a fully-working iPhone was actually the 75th person in the line.
The reason for all this madness? Simple. The sheer volume of people turning on their new iPhones and getting set up overwhelmed and crashed the computers responsible, meaning that the process that was supposed to take a quarter of an hour took so long. But it’s only, like, 45 minutes more? What’s so wrong with that? Well, they had to be activated in-store by Apple staff, so buyers couldn’t leave the store. For an hour. Go and think about that.
We’ll let Steve Jobs and his ever informative presentations tell you:
Apple basically just told everyone to get out and go home. On the bright side, one of the guys who waited for two and a half hours? He got his iPhone for free, which when you look at it, is actually a pretty good advert for purposely crashing Apple’s computers every day.
Can’t Touch Them (Na Na-Na Na)
This is it; the big granddaddy of all iPhone glitches. But why describe it, when a video would suffice:
“Oh yeah”, you might say, “That problem”. For those of you who have presumably been living in a cave for the past couple of months, following the launch of the iPhone 4, people started reporting that there were a number of issues with the signal. Namely that it would dip if you touched the lower-left corner of the phone, or as this phenomenon also commonly known, by holding it. Aside from losing their connection to the internet, users also reported calls being disconnected mid-conversation and text messages being unable to be sent.
Needless to say, the act of putting anything over that corner of the phone blocked the phone’s aerial, which Apple, in a moment of pure artistic brilliance, put there because they reasoned....we don’t know to be honest. We’d be telepathically using them, or something like that? It wasn’t made clear.
This was Apple’s official statement concerning the problem: “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 Steve Jobs put it much better:
As you’d expect, these sentiments didn’t exactly hold back the baying mob. Aside from people working out that you could fix the problem by sticking masking tape over the culprit corner, some people began threatening to sue Apple over the faulty design of the product. So Apple tried a different tactic: blaming the ‘dramatic drop in [signal] bars’ on the fact that the formula used to calculate the number of bars it needed to display was ‘wrong’. Hey, wait a second! Isn’t that just a fancy way of saying that the only reason that the number of signal bars drops is because you programmed it to do that?
In the end, Apple was forced to admit that they don’t have a solution for the problem, and promised that each user would receive a free case for their iPhone for their un-touchable iPhones. The cost? An estimated $180 million dollars. Ouch. What was so wrong with sticky-out aerials anyway?
When he isn’t getting himself placed high on Steve Jobs’ enemies list, Adam also writes for Alert Level Stork.
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