The person in charge of developing the hardware for the iPhone 4 has abruptly left Apple. Mark Papermaster’s departure comes in the wake of a widely publicized problem with the design of this smartphone.
The device suffers from what’s been called the “death grip” after users discovered that holding it in just the wrong way can greatly reduce wireless performance, in some cases cutting off phone calls.
The issue is bad enough that Apple has been forced to give free cases to everyone who has an iPhone 4 or purchases one for the next two months.
It’s not clear is Papermaster has resigned on his own, or if he was pressured to leave.
He was originally hired away from IBM several years ago. IBM objected in federal court on the grounds that its former high-level executive knew proprietary trade information. After a long delay, Papermaster went to work for Apple in the spring of 2009.
The iPhone 4 has a new design in which the outer edge of the device is used as a collection of antennas. While in most cases this improves the phone’s wireless performance, a problem cropped up as well.
Numerous people and organizations, including Consumer Reports, have established that if a user’s finger or hand touches a spot on the iPhone 4’s lower left side — an easy thing to do, especially for lefties — the signal can degrade enough to cause the device to lose its connection completely in areas with low signal strength.