One person with direct knowledge of the phone’s design said
Thursday that the iPhone 4 exposed a longstanding weakness in the
basic communications software inside Apple’s phones and that the
reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw.
Instead, the problems emerged in the complex interaction between
specialized communications software and the antenna, said the
person, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because
he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
The person said the problems were longstanding but had been
exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be
affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed
communications software compensates for a variety of external
factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person said.
Engadget’s Josh Topolsky asked about this NYT story during the Q&A, and Scott Forstall said the above quoted portion regarding a latent baseband bug having been triggered by the iPhone 4 design was “patently false”. But Forstall also made clear that Apple continually works on the tuning of their baseband software, so future software updates could improve iPhone 4 reception. What’s not true, according to Forstall, is that the iPhone 4’s antenna design uncovered latent longstanding problems in the baseband.