Vendors Capitalize On iPhone 4 Reception Woes

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New York - At least two accessories makers and one handset vendor have begun to capitalize on the controversy over the iPhone 4's cellular reception.

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for the Droid X in the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal, Motorola said its Droid X "comes with a double-antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls. You have a voice. And you deserve to be heard." The Droid X became available today, July 15, through Verizon Wireless.

Meantime, accessory supplier IvySkin is touting an iPhone 4 case said to improve reception. IvySkin's aptly named Reception case, a new product at $14.99, is billed not only as the world's thinnest iPhone 4 case but also as one that improves iPhone reception. For its part, Wilson Electronics is touting its existing iBooster ($200) and Sleek ($129) in-vehicle signal-boosting cradles as being able to improve reception as well. A spokesman told TWICE that the products' packaging would soon reflect that it works well with the iPhone 4.

Apple's own case, the $29 Bumper, was tested by Consumer Reports and said by the organization to solve the smartphone's reception problem.

  Whether Apple will resolve its perception problem, and maintain its iPhone 4 sales momentum, is another matter. The company planned a Friday, July 16, press conference to respond to the controversy. A day before the press conference, Strategy Analytics analyst Alex Spektor said the controversy's impact on Apple's market share had so far been "negligible," although the company "has lost heartshare because of the wave of negative press headlines."

  Apple's pre-press-conference "attempts to recover the situation have been disappointing," he said, "and it is reasonable to assume that some on-the-fence buyers may think twice about buying an iPhone 4 in the near future, especially considering the Android-powered alternatives available this summer."

 Apple's press conference performance, however, "may put it all in a different light."

Consumer Reports fanned the controversy this week when it tested the iPhone 4 and other smartphones and found that the Apple device was significantly more susceptible to signal degradation when held a certain way. When a finger or hand touches the steel-band antenna, which encircles the phone, on the lower left side, "the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal," CR said. CR tested multiple phones, including the iPhone 3G S, and "none of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4," the company noted.

 "Our findings call into question the recent claims by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that ‘mistakenly displays two more bars than it should have for a given signal strength,'" the organization said. Apple has said the inaccurate signal-strength bars also afflicted previous iPhone generations.

  For its part, carrier Sprint Nextel said it would take the high ground. "We will continue to stay the course on our current messaging in the marketplace, and our store personnel will do the same -- talking about the benefit of Sprint vs. the competition," a spokesperson told TWICE. "Sprint delivers the best value in wireless and is the only carrier to offer a 4G network in addition to a robust 3G network."


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