Can You Hear Me Now? No!

I went down to the Apple Store the other day, full of excitement and anticipation, ready to unnecessarily drop an excessive amount of money on a brand new MacBook Pro. In my defense, it wasn’t my own money; I owe a debt of gratitude to the taxpayers of the great State of California, who subsidized the entirety of this particular transaction. Don’t bother asking for the details on that.

Anyway, I think I must have picked the wrong day to drop by the Apple Store. I arrived around the time the store was scheduled to open up, only to be greeted by a huge line of fellow Apple worshippers waiting to get their greasy hands on the just-released iPhone 4. The slightly chubby guy at the front of the line informed me that the store would be opening an hour late in order to best service these iPhone customers, some of whom had been in line since 3:00 a.m. or earlier. I went and grabbed a cup of coffee while I waited my turn, and several hours later I was finally at home with my brand new laptop.

The whole scene was funny while it was happening, and the hilarity was enhanced by a random guy that walked by the line and shouted, “Enjoy those dropped calls!”
It turns out that I should have introduced myself to this man and befriended him, for his words were truly prophetic. As iPhone 4 users would soon discover, there would be plenty of dropped calls to enjoy. And unfortunately for them, there is not an App for that.

Apple iPhone owners have always loved to complain about the horrible cell phone service they have to deal with on a daily basis, but this new iPhone 4 was a totally different animal. They already knew they were going to have reception issues – after all, these are AT&T customers we’re talking about. Sadly, this was only the beginning. Things got worse faster than that time I ice-blocked down a hill naked.

Apple quickly acknowledged the problem. It turns out that the phone displayed more service bars than it was actually getting. I was relieved to hear this news, since it finally explained how a phone on the AT&T network could ever have more than two bars going.

Worse still, users quickly discovered the Grip of Death. I’m not talking about the guy that rips out beating hearts in that one Indiana Jones movie, either. This Grip of Death is as real as the Sharpie marks on Sarah Palin’s palms. Yes, if you hold the iPhone 4 in a certain way, it doesn’t work. Apple quickly responded with a sure solution: If you don’t hold the phone that certain way, all is well in paradise. As usual, you were the problem all along.

Plenty has been said about these pressing issues already, and I don’t think anything new will be said here. But one thing is definitely clear: these problems need to be addressed.

Apple owes something more to its hopelessly devoted followers than this – and not just because they have nothing better to do with their meaningless lives than wait in line for eight hours to get a cell phone. These problems should have been discovered and dealt with before this overpriced phone ever hit stores.
For me, though, the larger reception issue is Apple’s refusal to open the iPhone up to other service providers, especially those companies that can actually provide good cell phone service (Read: Verizon and Sprint). It is high time the rest of us got in on the magic.

Look, my blind faith in Apple is just as ridiculous as that of every 36-year-old virgin techie standing in that eight-hour line. But every two years, when that special time comes for me to renew my cell phone service, I turn down the iPhone because I don’t want to deal with AT&T and the associated dropped calls. Steve Jobs needs to realize that opening up the iPhone to other providers makes sense for customers and for Apple’s bottom line.

Besides, after all my criticism of the iPhone, let’s just face the facts here. I’m bitter because I don’t have one. You have FaceTime, that nifty Mac-style ringtone, and an App for literally everything, and I’m jealous. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Charles Hicks is a fourth-year religious studies major. He can be reach at