The iPhone4 by Mads Peitersen

Apple has now given the tech world a mid year topical fixture with the iPhone. Like or it or loathe it, every iPhone release gets the tech journalists and bloggers tapping away on their keyboards covering the various aspects of the device.

The iPhone was first released mid 2007 and Apple has successfully managed to recreate the same level of expectation with every iPhone release since then. 2010 was no exception. Prior to the release of the iPhone 4, the gadget world was exposed to the leaked handset via a tech website called Gizmodo. This led to Apple requesting the return of the device followed by rather a harsh response from the authorities.

Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs had a few words to say about the issue. There was the official one and the unofficial one. The latter, is not for the faint hearted.

Apple released the fourth iteration of the iPhone as planned with the customary Steve Jobs keynote address at the 2010 Apple’s World Wide Developer’s conference(WWDC 2010). Steve Jobs’ presentations are a master class in presentation skills combined with hyperbolic sales pitches. The man has to sell gadgets for a living after all.

When I saw the iPhone 4, I was gobsmacked by the sheer beauty of the device. It is industrial design at its best. Steve Jobs compared the device to an old Leica camera in terms of elegance. He isn’t far from the truth.The other interesting design feature was the stainless steel band around the phone which also doubled as an antenna. The screen boasts the highest resolution on a touch screen phone to date.

The one major issue that has cropped up with the iPhone 4 is the antenna issue. Yes, the very thing that made the iPhone 4’s design unique could probably be its Achilles heel. It was observed that holding the phone with the left hand reduces the mobile signal strength due to skin contact with the external antenna.

Steve Jobs, had given a terse email reply to one customer  telling the person to “Stop holding it(the iPhone 4) that way”.

It was also revealed that the Bumpers iPhone4 accessory sold separately alleviates the problem. However, sales staff at Apple stores have been given clear instructions by Apple not to provide these accessories free of charge to placate dissatisfied customers.

Apple has acknowledged the problem but their planned fix via a software update will not alleviate the antenna interference issue. It is a hardware problem that stems from an elegant yet flawed design.

News of devices released with certain software and hardware issues is not a new thing. The Nokia N97 comes to mind. However, Apple is now a company that is under close scrutiny by the general public and the tech world. Apple, is no longer an underdog but a company that is now bigger than Microsoft. The antenna issue, is in my opinion, a serious misstep for Apple.

However, these issues have not affected the sales of the iPhone 4. Apple has managed to shift 1.5 million iPhone4s within the first day of its release. Apple is certainly on a roll.

The crux is the issue is this: is the iPhone4 a bad device? I neither own the device nor have I seen it in the flesh.I have been living vicariously through the reviews from various tech sites such as Engadget and Trusted Reviews. The verdict: the iPhone4 is a good but flawed device.

Perhaps the best review that I’ve come across is the one from Gizmodo. It’s more of an essay on the iPhone4 rather than a detailed technical review. Read it.

Will I get the iPhone4? Right now, I seem quite pleased with my HTC Desire running on the Android OS.

The best answer at this point in time is : may be maybe not.