In the run up to Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference tomorrow the last thing they needed was more bad publicity about the fourth-gen smartphone’s poor antenna performance. Unfortunately, hot on the heels of Bloomberg’s report that a senior engineer warned Apple management back in 2009 that the iPhone 4′s design would cause signal problems, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has waded in with a little criticism of his own. Asked about his own iPhone 4′s performance, Wozniak said his own casual testing suggested that the smartphone’s problem “only occurs in some places” and that it was “like the AT&T dead zone has been extended with this new phone.”
That could certainly tally with Apple’s own suggestion, that the iPhone 4′s signal strength meter is incorrectly calibrated and that the poor antenna performance is not so much a simple matter of holding the handset and killing the signal. The new iOS4.1 beta pushed out to developers earlier suggests that the meter is now more accurate, but of course it does nothing to the hardware aspects of the iPhone 4′s shortcomings.
As for Wozniak’s suggestions as to how to address or at least work around the iPhone 4′s antenna design, he says owners should try to carry a second handset – he recommends Verizon – as a backup, or indeed to use a MiFi-style portable 3G hotspot and use Skype on the Apple smartphone. Let’s hope Apple’s own suggestions are slightly more straightforward when they take to the stage tomorrow; join us at 10am PT on July 16th for the SlashGear liveblog at http://live.slashgear.com/