The executive in charge of engineering Apple's iPhone has left the US company after complaints over poor reception on the latest generation of the popular mobile device.
Steve Dowling, a spokesman for the technology giant, would not say whether Mark Papermaster, Apple's senior vice-president of iPhone and iPod hardware engineering, was fired over the so-called "Antennagate" affair or left voluntarily.
Apple's iPhone 4 was an instant hit with consumers after its release in June, but reports about bad reception, caused by holding the device in a certain way, spread around the world.
Consumer Reports magazine refused to recommend the iPhone 4 and called on Apple to compensate buyers.
The company announced that it would give free protective cases to buyers to alleviate reception problems, but the controversy has continued.
'Out of proportion'
Analysts warned the the company's previous near infallible reputation for quality was under threat from the public furore, but Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, maintained there was nothing wrong with the iPhone 4, and said the reception problem was shared by other smartphones.
"This is life in the smartphone world. Phones are not perfect. Most every smartphone we tested behaved like this," Jobs said at a July news conference wherehe apologised for the malfunction.
"This has been blown so out of proportion, it's incredible," he told reporters and analysts in an auditorium at Apple's Silicon Valley headquarters in California.
The company sold more than three million units of the iPhone 4 in the first three weeks after its launch.
Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice-president of Macintosh hardware engineering will assume Papermaster's responsibilites, a company spokesman said.
"Mr. Mansfield already manages groups that create many of the key technologies for the iPhone and iPod touch, including the A4 chip, Retina display and touch screens," Dowling said.
This is not the first time Papermaster, a former IBM executive, has faced controversy.
Apple hired him in November 2008, luring him away from the computer giant, where he had worked for 25 years.
A federal court in the US initially barred Papermaster from working for Apple, but the lawsuit was eventually resolved and he started working for the company in April of 2009.