More on the iPhone Antenna Issue

By  |  Friday, June 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm

How big a problem is the iPhone 4’s possibility of antenna interference when you touch its lower left-hand corner? It’s still not clear. It might affect only some people or some iPhones. Or it might be a common issue with smartphones from all manufacturers which folks are only now noticing. (Me, I’ve attempted to replicate the problem by forcing my iPhone to drop calls…but so far, it’s not cooperating.)

Here’s one of the most interesting and worrisome data points to date: My pal Mark Sullivan of PCWorld did some informal but extensive tests around San Francisco, and was mostly impressed with the 4’s data speeds, voice reliability, and voice quality–except when he intentionally cupped the phone’s lower left-hand corner. When he did that, data speeds dropped dramatically.

Is it possible to follow Apple’s advice and just not touch your phone that way? I’m not sure. I’m a southpaw, but as I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that I’m ambidextrous when it comes to smartphones. I’ll hold them in either hand depending on what’s most convenient, and will use fingers from either hand or both hands to tap on the keyboard. Intentionally avoiding touching one part of the phone would be a burden. But like I say, I’ve noticed no issues to date.

Have you, iPhone 4 early adopters?


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10 Comments For This Post

  1. jay Says:

    As someone who is having the reception problem, the fact that you can’t replicate it is worrisome. In my opinion it points to a least some handsets being defective. Would Apple design a handset that southpaws or sweaty palmed people would have issues with? In very spots that i had strong 3G signals on my 3GS, i am now dropping bars and losing calls. To top it off i’m right handed and not a cupper. If everyone was having the issue then i would get a bumper or a case and call it a day. The experiment, at least to isolate whether it is environmental factors or indeed handset specific, is a simple one. I suspect Apple already knows the answer to that experiment.

  2. Christian Says:

    Yes this problem happens to me. I hadn’t noticed it before I read it on the blogs. I tested it out and sure enough I lose bars if I hold it ‘wrong’. Since then, (so this morning) I noticed I had really low signal at work. Noticing where my hand was I repositioned myself and gained 4 bars.

    This is going to be a major problem. I’d say almost recall worthy.

    I guess I’m going to buy a bumper, but I’ve never really been a fan of them, or any of the iphone/ipod jackets so it’s not something I look forward to.

    For the record I’m right handed, but often switch hands, as I’m also a smoker.

  3. Paul Warner Says:

    I got mine at noon today, and have no screen or signal issues. I guess I got lucky.

  4. David Says:

    This issue is *vastly* overstated. Vastly and will not lead to any recalls. When the iPad came out, all you heard about for the first few days were wi-fi problems.

    Well, three million units later, and no software update or recalls, the problem has mysteriously vanished.

    Why is that?

    When the 3GS came out, you heard about reception problems.

    By next week, I suspect you won’t hear about this problem either.

    I have all three devices and didn’t experience any of the issues.

  5. iluvcapra Says:

    Since then, (so this morning) I noticed I had really low signal at work. Noticing where my hand was I repositioned myself and gained 4 bars.

    This is going to be a major problem. I’d say almost recall worthy.

    I own a 3GS, and it definitely loses bars at work when I hold it particular ways; all phones do. If there were some sort of recall it would be because of call quality or dropping, not because of what the little indicator says. They needn’t recall either, they could just have purchasers bring their phones in and the guy at the genius bar applies some kind of non-conductive spray coating, or trades you your phone and they do it back at the factory. If the problem is just your hand shorting the two antennas, this is not a hard fix.

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    This issue happens with all phones. The original iPhone came with instructions to hold the phone by the aluminum part, not the black part that contained the antenna. You will get varying levels of reception based on where you are within a cell, whether you’re indoors, what materials are around you, how the phone is held. That is why we have “bars”. The “3G” moniker tells you you’re inside a 3G network, you wouldn’t need bars if there were no other variables.

    You can also cover the speaker on iPhone and the audio is almost completely silenced! Same exact issue.

  7. Tim Says:

    It happens every time with me. It’s a significant problem. I’m a righty, but I often hold the phone in my left hand and type with my right hand and my left thumb. It kills my reception. I can see the same problems shown here:

    I disagree with David at 4:48. This is not something that can be fixed in software, and I think it’s a widespread problem. It’s a major fault in the design of the phone. It’s the kind of thing that are the subject of class-action law suits.

    At the very least, Apple should buy cases for everyone with an affected phone. If they can fix the problem – if some phones really aren’t affected, and they can replace affected hardware with new phones – they should do so. Telling people not to hold a phone in a particular manner is a major mistake, and the wrong thing to do.

    I’m an Apple fan and have been for a long time, and I think that they’ve botched the response so far. They still have time to fix it, but they have to figure it out quickly.

  8. Drew Says:

    I have to say that this can be considered a fail for Apple but it obviously is something that can be avoided so I’ll give them that. Droid through and through me though. However I don’t even own one yet lol.

    @Tim I fully agree with your thinking on this hence why I said to consider it a fail.

  9. tristan Says:

    Simply amazing. You know I think that Apple is facing all of these issues because they rushed to make the iPhone 4. Android more than likely caused this. However, Steve needs to give an official statement and soon. Until then we can only speculate.

    Any how theres this article at called “iPhone 4 Is In But The Problems Are Out: Complete Overview”

    Check it out for the complete listing of iPhone 4 issues and one that you may yet have heard of but still might be experiencing.  

  10. Ron Goren Says:

    Absolutely no problems in the Philadelphia area where i thought dropped calls were part of the service. BTW no one mentions the battery life. It is outstanding! I go from 0700 to 2000 of continuous use before it needs a charge.

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