By Rob Pegoraro | July 20, 2010; 5:34 PM ET
I'm sorry to be so graphic, but this has to be said.
Ever since Apple led off its defense of the iPhone 4's reception in Friday's news conference by saying that other phones can also drop calls when held the wrong way, a certain segment of the phone-using population has been flocking to the Web to repeat Apple's demonstrations on camera.
For example, this Boy Genius Report post shows a Verizon Wireless BlackBerry 9650 losing signal strength when grasped by its sides. Here's a similar demo with the HTC Droid Incredible. And this page points to those videos and similar demonstrations involving three phones running Google's Android operating system.
But pay attention to the headline on that BGR post: "Can you make your current phone lose signal depending on how you hold it?"
That is the wrong question to ask. People clenching smartphones on camera to prove that Apple was right -- or collecting scans of pages from phone manuals that warn users not to hold the device in certain ways -- miss the point.
It's less than relevant if you can make a phone lose reception -- that's a rigged demo as useless as a carefully scripted presentation that glides over a product's weak points. I'd rather know if the phone will lose reception when you're not trying to break it or do anything but, you know, use it as a phone.
Based on what I've heard from readers, even the iPhone 4 only exhibits that problem in a minority of cases. As the Wall Street Journal's John Paczkowski suggested this morning, that may be a consequence of design compromises made to improve overall performance in such a compact device (which doesn't mean that Apple made the correct trade-off or explained its choice well).
For what it's worth, I've re-inspected the last three phones I've reviewed -- Sprint's HTC Evo 4G and Verizon's HTC Droid Incredible and Motorola Droid X -- to see whether they lose signal when held like any other phone. None has shown any meaningful reception issues. Nor have I heard from any readers complaining that these models drop calls when held the wrong way -- even as they've griped about other issues with them.
Meanwhile, Apple doesn't seem to need the help. It just reported yet another record-breaking quarter: $15.7 billion in revenue and $3.25 billion in profit, with sales of 3.47 million Macs, 8.4 million iPhones, 9.41 million iPods and 3.27 million iPads. Something tells me the company will continue to do fine, and that all this hubbub won't amount to more than an asterisk of detail in its next earnings report.
I hope this can be my last word on this subject. Please?