From Antennagate to Touch Disease: The 11 biggest Apple scandals

The media loves a good Apple scandal, preferably ending with the '-gate' suffix: usually a new Apple product not doing what it's supposed to do (in a tiny fraction of cases). It's almost become a tradition in the tech industry. Here we look at the 11 biggest Apple scandals of all time, and why we think they were blown out of proportion.

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  • Antennagate Antennagate
  • Bendgate Bendgate
  • how to fix touch disease iphone screen problem 800home Touch Disease
  • MobileMe MobileMe
  • Tim and U2 U2-gate
  • How to use Maps iOS 9 1000e Apple Maps
  • Crackgate Crackgate
  • SlowGate Slowgate
  • Yellowgate Yellowgate
  • scratchgate Scratchgate
  • PurpleHaze Purple Haze
  • More stories
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Antennagate: "You're holding it wrong"

When you talk about Apple scandals, this is the one that most Apple fans think of first (its only real rival is Bendgate, on the next slide, just because it's that much more recent). Antennagate was the big one; the scandal that Apple had the biggest response to.

The iPhone 4 was a radical redesign of Apple's phone. It placed the antenna on the outside, where you could see the joins and curves. People noticed that holding the iPhone with your finger across the joint caused the reception to drop out.

Apple's initial response - "Just avoid holding it that way" - led to widespread mockery, and the phrase "you're holding it wrong" still sticks around whenever an Apple product has a fault. Eventually, Steve Jobs held a press conference at Cupertino and announced free bumper cases for all users, saying: "We're not perfect… but we want all our users to be happy."

We don't really think there was anything substantial to the problem, and the iPhone 4 sold tremendously well. Customers didn't seem to notice, let alone mind, and Apple repeatedly pointed out that other mobile phones suffered the same effect. The iPhone 4S did have two antennas, mind.

You can read lots more about Antennagate in the following articles:

Antennagate timeline | Opinion: The misplaced schadenfreude of 'antennagate' | How Steve Jobs really felt about Antennagate

Alternatively, browse through our slideshow to read about nine more famous Apple scandals.

Next »

Next Prev Antennagate

When you talk about Apple scandals, this is the one that most Apple fans think of first (its only real rival is Bendgate, on the next slide, just because it's that much more recent). Antennagate was the big one; the scandal that Apple had the biggest response to.

The iPhone 4 was a radical redesign of Apple's phone. It placed the antenna on the outside, where you could see the joins and curves. People noticed that holding the iPhone with your finger across the joint caused the reception to drop out.

Apple's initial response - "Just avoid holding it that way" - led to widespread mockery, and the phrase "you're holding it wrong" still sticks around whenever an Apple product has a fault. Eventually, Steve Jobs held a press conference at Cupertino and announced free bumper cases for all users, saying: "We're not perfect… but we want all our users to be happy."

We don't really think there was anything substantial to the problem, and the iPhone 4 sold tremendously well. Customers didn't seem to notice, let alone mind, and Apple repeatedly pointed out that other mobile phones suffered the same effect. The iPhone 4S did have two antennas, mind.

You can read lots more about Antennagate in the following articles:

Antennagate timeline | Opinion: The misplaced schadenfreude of 'antennagate' | How Steve Jobs really felt about Antennagate

Alternatively, browse through our slideshow to read about nine more famous Apple scandals.

 

Bendgate: Bend an iPhone with your bare hands

Bendgate is the most recent high-profile Applegate scandal. The incredibly thin design of Apple's iPhone 6 Plus led to some users complaining that the device bent after spending only a little time in their pocket.

Apple responded to Bendgate, stating that it had received only nine complaints of bent devices and that the damage occurring due to regular use was "extremely rare". Apple offered to replace phones that were bent.

There are now many videos of eager YouTubers bending their iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices with bare hands.

Read more: iPhone 6 Plus Bendgate latest

 

Touch Disease: The flickering grey bar of doom

Touch Disease is the rather dramatic name given to a problem affecting iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets: one which causes a flickering grey bar to appear at the top of the screen, and can sometimes even cause the entire screen to become unresponsive.

It's believed to be related to Bendgate, and affects the same devices. The 6 Plus is apparently more susceptible: one repair expert has warned that virtually all iPhone 6 Plus phones will be affected at some point.

Read more here: What is Touch Disease, and how to fix an iPhone affected by Touch Disease

Picture courtesy of iFixit

 

MobileMe: What's it supposed to do again?

The story goes that Steve Jobs gathered all of his engineers, designers and team members together and said: "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?" When an employee gathered the courage to give a response, he shouted: "Then why the f**k doesn't it do that?"

Then he fired the MobileMe lead engineer on the spot in front of everybody. That's how bad MobileMe was.

In its defence, MobileMe was fixed over time and became a reliable way to sync up data across your iOS and OS X devices. It morphed into iCloud, which now sits at the heart of OS X and iOS. It just had a rocky start.

 

U2-gate: Not on my iPhone

The Apple Watch launch should have been a time of joy for Apple fans. Here was Apple at its best, launching a whole new product to a whole new market.

At the end of the show, however, Apple showed how out of touch it was by getting U2 to wrap things up, and then announcing that it was placing a U2 album into everybody's iTunes account.

While this seems a good deal for everybody, Apple didn't realise just how unpopular U2 are with many music fans. The company has a real cultural blind spot sometimes. (For more on that, see At the iPhone 6 launch, Apple became the embarrassing dad of tech companies.)

"I had this beautiful idea and we kind of got carried away with ourselves," explained a not spectacularly apologetic Bono. "Artists are prone to that kind of thing.

"Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion and deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years mightn't be heard. There's a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it."

Calling Bono pompous is perhaps an understatement, but it wasn't really that bad to give everybody a free U2 album. Most people didn't get the fuss and Apple quickly released a tool to remove the album from people's iTunes Purchased List (if they really hated U2 that much).

If you've still got that U2 album in your iTunes library and want to know how to delete it, see U2 album giveaway: how to download and delete it.

 

Apple Maps: Where are we?

It turns out that making accurate maps is hard. While we think the response to Apple Maps was somewhat overkill, there's no getting away from the fact that it was (and remains) far less accurate than Google Maps.

The fact that Apple chose to remove Google Maps from the iPhone seemed to rub salt in the wound. And it took Google a while to build a Google Maps app that you could reinstall yourself.

In the long run, though, things have probably worked out for the best: both the Google Maps app and Apple Maps now have step-by-step direction, for instance (which wasn't part of Apple's original deal with Google). And Apple Maps is gorgeous.

Apple Maps is also much more accurate now, although search still leaves something to be desired.

Apple VP Scott Forstall (the software lead on the iPhone) apologised for Maps, and the rumour is that it contributed to him leaving Apple.

Read more: Apple Maps vs Google Maps comparison review

 

Crackgate: Blame it on the obese

Crackgate does the rounds every few years with different Apple products. The first time we heard about Crackgate, it was the iPod nano that was in the dock. Several users complained about cracked screens.

Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller retorted: "This issue has affected less than 1/10th of 1 percent of the total iPod nano units that we've shipped. It is not a design issue. It has more to do with obese Americans in tight pants putting the nano in their front jeans pocket, and then sitting for extended periods of time."

Crackgate came around again with the iPhone 3G, which was also supposedly susceptible to cracks (this time with light shining through them).

 

Slowgate: iOS just doesn't run fast enough

The iPhone 3G launched shortly after the original iPhone and had the same internal components, apart from the 3G antenna. The updates were fine for iOS 1.0 (or technically iPhone OS, as it was called at the time), 2.0 and even 3.0 but when Apple released iOS 4.0 along with the iPhone 3GS it fell apart.

The iPhone 3G simply couldn't handle the initial iOS 4.0 software update, and everything ran so slowly that most users felt their iPhones had broken.

The iPhone 4.1 software update fixed things, but many users felt they were being surreptitiously forced to upgrade to a newer model. Of all the Apple scandales we discuss here this is the one that genuinely felt like a big problem, but Apple learnt its lesson. Since then Apple has been incredibly careful to ensure software updates don't break older models.

Well, except for iOS 7 making the iPhone 4 run like treacle. And iOS 8 doing the same to some models of the iPhone 4s. But Apple promises things will be different with iOS 9...

Read next: How to speed up a slow iPhone

 

Yellowgate: Is the iPhone screen the wrong colour?

The iPhone 4S was in many ways our favourite iPhone. It also came with not one but two antennae (in response to Antennagate).

However, it wasn't without its problems. Many users noted that the screen was a slightly different colour to the one on the iPhone 4, and had a slight yellow hue.

It was barely perceptible, and we think the tech industry was grasping around for another story to follow Antennagate. 'Yellowgate' hardly registers on most Apple fans' memories now.

 

Scratchgate: iPhones that didn't stay pristine for long

After the success of Antennagate, and before the high-profile Bendgate, you could see tech commentators looking for another -gate.

Scratchgate was a bit of a non-starter, but it got some traction around the launch of the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 was similar in design to the iPhone 4 and 4S, but with a bigger screen and thinner case.

It also had a new space black finish, but many users noted that the finish was highly susceptible to scratching. The area around the ear socket was particularly sensitive, thanks to the pulling and pushing of the earphone jack.

We didn't find it particularly problematic, but when you're paying £500 for an iPhone you want it to stay pristine for as long as possible. Apple fixed the finish for the iPhone 5s.

 

Purple Haze: Discoloured photos

Scratching wasn't the only problem the iPhone 5 suffered. Some users also reported that the phone was taking shots with a purple lens flare. It didn't seem to affect many users, and wasn't even big enough to warrant a '-gate'. (Then again, calling it 'Purplegate' may have been stretching ridiculousness to the extreme.)

Apple suggested moving around if you got a photo with a purple haze sheen to it.

The company said: "Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources. This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor.

"Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimise or eliminate the effect."

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