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  • Apple Defends iPhone 4 Reception with General Swipe at All Mobile Phones

    Since Wednesday evening, we've heard from no shortage of readers and contributors on MMi who are confounded, amused, or downright angry about the peculiar phenomenon of cell signal dramatically tapering off when you hold the iPhone 4 by the antenna band. While we've investigated the matter and tinkered with possible fixes since the issue was first broached, Apple formally chimed in on the matter last night.

    Cupertino's response? "This is a fact of life for every wireless phone," the company said in reference to mobile phones having reception issues when held improperly. "Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas." Needless to say, some iPhone 4 buyers (and prospective buyers) aren't taking too kindly to Apple's terse response to the issue. Of course, Apple did at least present one viable solution: "If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

    To be fair, Apple is correct about other devices having reception issues when they are held or touched at locations sensitive to antenna disruption or blockage. But plenty of iPhone 4 buyers were, admittedly, looking for something more from Apple than, as the Financial Times reported, a recommendation to hold the phone differently. Luckily, as the company was more than willing to point out, there are products - like a $30 bumper - which can mitigate the impact of this reception glitch. But following a frustrating pre-order debacle and now massive iPhone 4 supply shortages, this latest headache likely isn't a welcome or timely headache either for customers or Apple.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Defends iPhone 4 Reception with General Swipe at All Mobile Phones started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 151 Comments
    1. gbarielmoreno's Avatar
      gbarielmoreno -
      I've had no problems with my iPhone 4, but here in central California AT&T kicks ***. Blows verizon away
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by americaroma View Post
      Ok signal bars go down... But have any of you actually experienced dropped calls after holding the phone the "wrong" way?

      Ive had the phone for two days now but havent really used it for calls so i havent tested if it drops calls due to that issue...
      Yes while speaking with the apple rep, he had to call me back.
    1. monk444's Avatar
      monk444 -
      I have never owned a phone that has a reception issue like this. That's including my 3 gs.
    1. back9player's Avatar
      back9player -
      perfect display of arrogance by jobs and apple... typical.

      hold it differently? WTF? how about don't make a piece of sh**!?

      i can hold my blackberry a million different ways and it won't drop it's signal. suck on that, jobs!
    1. cdx454's Avatar
      cdx454 -
      I'm calling the 1800 number!
    1. pimpinpapoii's Avatar
      pimpinpapoii -
      Quote Originally Posted by iLaw-One View Post
      That is just plain lame coming from Apple...spent a fair deal getting this phone and Apple has come to be associated with excellence...I expect a lot more from them period!!:

      You'd expect for a company such as Apple to go through rigorous product testing phases prior to release...I assume that's why we saw so many 'leaked' prototypes...was this problem not discovered earlier, or were they (whoever is responsible for product design @ Apple)too lazy, or thinking about the cost of re-design to bother with amending a flaw in such a high profile product???
      apparently they did all their testing while drunk, at several bars around town! probably blamed the "bad reception" on the background noise at the bar.
    1. sandyt87's Avatar
      sandyt87 -
      I have not got a clue how the apple engineers didn't see this one coming??

      I mean come on, surely they would have seen that a user touching the phone (and shorting the antenna) would present a huge resistance to the circuit?? Try putting a multimeter across yourself you'll get the idea.

      Correct me if I am wrong but when the phone transmits anything through that antenna, the circuit would see a mismatch at the end and possibly reflect some of that TX power back into the circuit as VSWR? I haven't worked with these kind of circuits but I do work in the HF/MF field, and I guess the principle is the same.

      Would it be possible to damage the circuitry that way?

      Im not scaremongering here, just asking an engineering question.

      And as for the bumpers, yes it will solve the problem. It puts an insulator (poor conductor) between the resistive load and the antenna, therefore problem solved. But at $30 effin dollars???

      Apple, I have lost a lot of respect for you. Knowing there is a flaw is one thing. Admitting it is great. But charging your users for the fix? Wow

    1. maddawg05's Avatar
      maddawg05 -
      Im tempted to cancel my July 14th order. There's so many variables...many have the issue but there are a small number with no issue. Tested my buddy's right after walking out the store yesterday and no signal lost. Very dissapointed with ALL the issues.
    1. nyrajputz's Avatar
      nyrajputz -
      lately, apple-ATT have been really something havent they?

      -cutting unlimited data plans
      -tragic pre-orders
      -tragic launch day experience (only at apples and very small quantity)
      -MANY problems with iPhone 4 (attenea issue, yellow screen, some people with reversed volume button and proximity sensor issue)

      this is a lot...especially the attenea issue...i mean cmon, its apples 4th generation phone, they should have perfected the signal and "phone" part of the iphone...
    1. dq13's Avatar
      dq13 -
      damn.. thinking twice now because I HATE cases and silicone crap... they stick to the pocket, make the phone bulky, etc... why buy the "thinest smartphone" if you are gonna stick a case to make it bigger than the 3g? why get the slick design and shiny glass if you are gonna put an ugly plastic in the back and it will look like any other phone!... for that I stick to the 3gs without my signal strong no matter how I hold it
    1. PanayiotisN's Avatar
      PanayiotisN -
      Quote Originally Posted by swehbe View Post
      well my iPhone doesnt have this issue, tried many times (maybe am standing too close to a tower). On the other hand though, my home button has a white dot on the edge from the inside! do you think i can have it replaced for that ??

      MAn don't replace because you will get the faulty iphone 4 wich does all that antenna crap! So you were blessed to have a nice and correct iphone 4! forget about the dot! it's absolutely nothing in compare with the antenna problem!
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by PanayiotisN View Post
      MAn don't replace because you will get the faulty iphone 4 wich does all that antenna crap! So you were blessed to have a nice and correct iphone 4! forget about the dot! it's absolutely nothing in compare with the antenna problem!
    1. Dayvidpriddy's Avatar
      Dayvidpriddy -
      I made a post about this on the forums under general for the iPhone. Apparently the folks who replied to it seems to think I need to "get over it!" Talk about being a fanboy...
    1. Cokeman's Avatar
      Cokeman -
      While you can't argue "holding a phone the wrong way" can affect reception. However I've never heard of a cell phone manufacturer bragging about how they designed this amazing device. Placing the antenna's around the outside of phone to improve reception. This response proves they new about it long before it was announced.

      Apple bragged the feature up and now they are back tracking. This is going to hurt them in a big way. Hell if I wanted a device they sucked at reception I'd buy a ipod touch/ipad. Looks like I'll just be sticking with my Nexus. Android still has things I don't like about it, but damn that phone holds service like no other.
    1. smittyjf's Avatar
      smittyjf -
      The signal loss is most definately from the bridging of the 2 lower breaks. this happens by just doing it with 2 fingers and keeping the rest of the phone completely open and not blocking any other reception point. this is a design flaw and I can see a class action lawsuit happening so keep your receipts for bumpers boys and girls.

      On another note,
      I was involved in an ipod nano class action lawsuit for the shiny back getting scratched. They claimed that Apple should have included a pouch with it and filed a HUGE lawsuit. I got a postcard in the mail saying check here to be involved and low and behold a year later i got a check for 37.50.
      This is too big to be let go.
    1. boe_dye's Avatar
      boe_dye -
      Here's a little blurb regarding antennaes that I picked up off of Reddit. Whilst the majority (majority, not all) of comments here seem to be in the "hate apple/att/whatever", and none of them are really adding to the conversation, here's an educated dissertation on the matter:

      Apple iPhone 4Antennas... - AntennaSys Blog - AntennaSys, Inc. - antenna design, integration and consulting.
    1. Dayvidpriddy's Avatar
      Dayvidpriddy -
      Quote Originally Posted by silent1643 View Post
      Dude that is the funniest f'n video I've ever seen about an Apple fail in my entire life! We are all here at the office almost wetting ourselves! Bravo to the find!
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      I have one question. Was this response directly from Steve Jobs himself?

      If not, then disregard the rest.

      If so, well, Jobs is the CEO. He isn't a technical person. So in actuality he most likely would not know enough about this sort of thing to actually give an informed answer. He can only reiterate whatever he's been told by someone else, who can be (and is) a bit off, in that it is definately not normal to nearly or completely loose signal by merely holding the phone, regardless of position. While many handsets can and do experience slight, I've never seen my 3GS, nor any other phone loose reception like this merely by where I've held it. Usually it's the orientation that can make a difference, both with cell signals and wiki, which is a common trait for most any kind of radio (RF) signal.
    1. boe_dye's Avatar
      boe_dye -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dayvidpriddy View Post
      Dude that is the funniest f'n video I've ever seen about an Apple fail in my entire life! We are all here at the office almost wetting ourselves! Bravo to the find!
      Not wanting to be a kill joy, and while the video is funny, and no I'm not an apple/mac fanboy:

      Facetime is over WiFi, not over GSM.
    1. katmeef's Avatar
      katmeef -
      Quote Originally Posted by boe_dye View Post
      Facetime is over WiFi, not over GSM.
      Well I guess we know why now