Apple’s iPhone 4 has been pulling our geeky heart strings for the past week – but some unlucky owners are losing reception… when they hold it. An interesting flaw for a mobile phone.
The iPhone 4, which launched on 24 June, bragged that it would improve reception with a fandangled antenna plastered to its skinny sides. At the phone’s unveiling, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs dubbed its stainless steel receiver “really cool engineering”.
That’s been dampened with reports from users experiencing poor reception. Many found that the phone was worst affected when they held it – especially when using their left hand. Obviously, we only like to look at our iPhone from afar.
Amusingly Jobs advised one customer to “avoid holding it in that way,” with Apple later telling us not to grip the phone’s “lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band.”
Which is fair enough – it’s not like Apple advertises holding the iPhone in this way. Oh wait:
A little embarrassing, but the iPhone 4 isn’t the only phone that suffers from this – complaints about Google’s Nexus One have also made the rounds. It appears that our meaty digits don’t mix well with radio waves, so splaying them all over an antenna regrettably impacts signal quality.
Apple also suggests buying a case to shield the antenna from our grubby fingers. But if your pockets are already empty (spilling £500 on the phone itself has got to hurt) you could create your own handle with a little bit of ingenuity and duct tape, like the folk at CNET UK.
After helpfully telling us not to hold our iPhone 4 in our left hand, Apple has now said that there’s ‘no reception issue‘ and we should stay tuned for a fix. We’re just tuning the reception now…
Why does it look like we’re losing signal?
Is Apple saying that the reported reception issues are imaginary? If they are, they might not be far wrong. Reception may drop a little when you hold your iPhone 4, like most mobiles (except Nokia’s apparently), but the phone’s software could be exaggerating this degradation.
Anandtech reports that the iPhone 4’s reception is indeed much better than previous models, but that the signal bars shown on the phone simply go down too fast. Apple today admitted that the formula used to calculate how many bars of signal strength are shown is “totally wrong”.
We’ve actually tried gripping our iPhone 4 in every way imaginable, specifically covering the metal antenna with our brass bands, but we see no visual degradation in signal. But that’s just us and we’re currently doing more in-depth testing in the Which? labs.
The question is, have you experienced a loss of signal when you hold your iPhone 4 in the ‘wrong way’?