The engineer in charge of developing the iPhone 4’s hardware has left Apple, but it’s not clear if he jumped ship or was pushed.
Apple confirmed the departure of Mark Papermaster, senior vice president for iPhone engineering, on Saturday after only 16 months in the job, revealing he had been replaced by Bob Mansfield, the head of computer engineering
Spokesman Steve Dowling gave no reason for Papermaster’s departure in a statement sent to the New York Times, prompting speculation the engineer was sacked over the antenna problems that have blighted Apple’s latest smartphone since it launched late June.
The speculation was fuelled by the fact Papermaster’s name was hastily removed from Apple’s list of executives by Saturday afternoon, the newspaper said.
Industry veteran Papermaster worked for 25 years at IBM developing power control chips prior to joining Apple.
It is not clear if he was the engineer who reportedly warned Apple of problems with the iPhone 4’s antenna design over a year ago.
Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall told The Guardian the engineer probably didn’t fit in with Apple’s “t-shirts and blue jeans” corporate culture.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs apologized for the iPhone 4’s antenna problems in a rare press briefing at the firm’s HQ last month.
He pledged to issue free covers to customers affected by the problem, which sees the signal strength drop off if users hold the bottom-left corner of the device.