Mark Bridge writes:
I remember the launch of Carweek back in the 1990s. It was a motoring magazine produced as a weekly glossy newspaper; a novel format, although one that probably led to its demise. 'Spy shots' of prototype cars seemed then – as now – to be much sought-after, despite them often not showing much resemblance to the finished product. Indeed, I often wondered how you could possibly road-test the handling of a new car when it was covered with unflattering body parts that served to disguise its shape.
Today, almost twenty years later, I've been reminded of those disguised prototypes with the fuss surrounding the iPhone 4. It's no secret that the iPhone's basic phone functionality has never been its strong point. But the growing list of iPhone 4 complainants – from Apple's software admission to poor reviews and 'recall' requests – have left me with one overwhelming impression.
The iPhone was tested inside a non-standard casing. That much seems pretty clear. And because the iPhone 4 was tested inside a disguised case, any problems caused by putting your hand on the antenna weren't noticed by the testers – because the case protected the antenna. The basic problem seems as simple as that.
Which means that fixing the problem is - in theory - equally simple. Although I never did understand how they solved the handling issues with prototype cars.