It all began with the results of testing the new iPhone 4 by Consumer Reports:
“It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”
This issue, dubbed “Antennagate”, was completey overblown at the time. It really only affected a very small number of placed calls but that didn’t stop a class-action lawsuit from being launched. This lead to tarnishing the perception of what ended up being one of the most successful product launches in Apple’s history. Ultimately this was resolved by the introduction of a free iPhone 4 case program that alleviated interference with the antennae.
While that problem alone was enough to make constant headlines it was actually second in line to the delayed released of the white iPhone 4. It started out as only being a few weeks, which turned into months and finally ended in April of the following year. I can very clearly recall how frustrating this was to people at the time and was reminded of it when a similar situation happened with HomePod. It is unfortunate that this negative news cycle had to dominate discussions about Apple and the company’s focus in the last year of Steve’s life.