A new survey adds ammunition to Apple's claim that the media is far more worried about the iPhone 4's reception issues than its actual users are.
Thanks to the super-selling iPhone 4's signal-strength problems, terms like "death grip" and "Antennagate" dominated the headlines until Steve Jobs held a snarky press conference in which he extended an offer of free phone cases. But Jobs also rolled out some statistics that threw cold water on the idea that a large number of iPhone users are dissatisfied with its performance.
On July 16, Jobs said that the iPhone 4's return rate was 1.7 percent, compared to 6 percent for the 3GS. He also noted that only 0.55 percent of AppleCare calls about the phone were related to antenna or reception problems.
A study released today by ChangeWave Research supports Jobs' assertion that Antennagate is essentially a non-issue. Asked whether the antenna was a problem, almost two-thirds of respondents said that they hadn't experienced any issues, with another 14 percent calling it a minor problem; 7 percent called it a big deal.
That hardly sounds like hordes of disgruntled iPhone users ready to take to the streets. The sample size isn't huge -- 213 users -- but the survey came three days after Jobs' press conference, when the topic was all over the Internet.
Seventy-two percent of iPhone owners said they're very satisfied with the device, while 21 percent said they're somewhat satisfied. Those numbers seem impressive, but ChangeWave notes that they're not as good as those enjoyed by the 3GS in August 2009, when 82 percent were very satisfied and 17 percent somewhat satisfied.
"Then again," wrote ChangeWave researchers Paul Carton, Mike Wrobel and Jean Crumrine, "the 3GS wasn't met with a firestorm of controversy upon its launch." They added that while the satisfaction ratings don't hit the 3GS's "nosebleed levels," the iPhone 4 "has been very well received by new owners."
AT&T, on the other hand, didn't fare as well in the survey.
Asked what they disliked about their iPhone, antenna issues didn't top the list. Instead 27 percent of iPhone users pointed to the fact that they have to be AT&T customers, and 24 percent cited the quality of AT&T's network. Another 24 percent mentioned antenna problems, while 23 percent named excessive dropped calls.
Speaking of dropped calls, ChangeWave says that iPhone 4 owners reported a 5.2 percent dropped call rating -- better than 3GS owners' 6.3 percent. "Despite the hoopla surrounding the antenna issue, in actuality iPhone 4 owners report experiencing slightly fewer dropped calls on the average than do iPhone 3GS owners," wrote the researchers.
Seventy-three percent of iPhone 4 users were very or somewhat satisfied with Apple's free phone case offer.One survey won't put the final nail in the Antennagate coffin, but it should help put it to rest.