New iPhone 4 Antenna Design Not So Handy

If you’re having reception problems with your new iPhone 4, the answer could be in the palm of your hand — literally.

It’s now looking suspiciously like the design of the new model means the antenna is compromised when the phone is held in the hand. That’s because rather than being a small block unit, the antenna is actually made of the metal frame surrounding the phone.

Widespread reports suggest that there is a clear pattern of calls being dropped, or signal strength degrading when the phone is in the hand, as opposed to being laid flat. It’s also apparent that the specific problem is the bottom left hand corner of the device (which raises the question of whether left-handed people and right-handed people are suffering equally).

The problem appears not to be that the line of “sight” is blocked, but rather than the antenna is actually being touched. It appears this means that some of the energy of the antenna is converted into heat on the skin, thus weakening the signal.

Given that it seems inconceivable that such an issue wouldn’t be picked up in the manufacturing and testing process, there appear to be a couple of possible explanations. One is that the actual effect is exaggerated by a bug in the way the phone displays signal strength. Another is that the effect is minimal and only makes a serious difference in areas which already have weak reception.

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26 Responses to New iPhone 4 Antenna Design Not So Handy

    • Coming soon, the new iPhone 5G – Now with working antenna… its only taken 3 generations to get a camera flash…

      I'm all for progress.. but deliberately removing basic function to make people not only WANT to upgrade but NEED to upgrade is brilliant business strategy, but so very lame for the consumer. I just hope that they fall arse over tit in the coming years and apple gets wiped off the map. Open source and a cool named mobile OS FTW!!

      • You do realize that 3G and 4G have to do with the type of signal and nothing to do with the phone itself, yes? Your statement, therefore, contains a basic misnomer. If/when we ever GET a 5G system in the US (even Asia's still running on 4G right now) then they'll likely make another one but I don't see this happening right now. Most likely what they'll do is create iPhone 4s with larger amounts of memory and, at the same time, correct the signal problem on those.

        • iPod fans, if not the company officially, often refer to the products in terms of 'generations' – the very first iPod was the first generation, thus 1G, the video iPod was the 5G and the 'Classic' is the 6G. The first iPod Mini-looking Nano was the Nano 2G and so on.

          So yeah, this is the 4th generation of iPhones, so in Apple fan nomenclature, it's the 4G.

    • Coming soon, the new iPhone 5G – Now with working antenna… its only taken 3 generations to get a camera flash…

      I’m all for progress.. but deliberately removing basic function to make people not only WANT to upgrade but NEED to upgrade is brilliant business strategy, but so very lame for the consumer. I just hope that they fall arse over tit in the coming years and apple gets wiped off the map. Open source and a cool named mobile OS FTW!!

      • You do realize that 3G and 4G have to do with the type of signal and nothing to do with the phone itself, yes? Your statement, therefore, contains a basic misnomer. If/when we ever GET a 5G system in the US (even Asia’s still running on 4G right now) then they’ll likely make another one but I don’t see this happening right now. Most likely what they’ll do is create iPhone 4s with larger amounts of memory and, at the same time, correct the signal problem on those.

        • iPod fans, if not the company officially, often refer to the products in terms of ‘generations’ – the very first iPod was the first generation, thus 1G, the video iPod was the 5G and the ‘Classic’ is the 6G. The first iPod Mini-looking Nano was the Nano 2G and so on.

          So yeah, this is the 4th generation of iPhones, so in Apple fan nomenclature, it’s the 4G.

  1. Apple (read Steve Jobs) has been so shook up by the explosion of Android, that he has now pushed 2 products to market prematurely. It seems to me that they introduced the "Bumper" in hope to counteract a known and unfixable problem. (Apple has never in iPhone history introduced an item to cover or distort their precious designer case).

    It is a shame that Apple (Steve) would do this to his loyal to the death fan-boys who would buy a skunk if it had an Apple logo on it. With great power comes Great responsibility.

    I really think that Steve is afraid that he will die soon and that Apple will lose it market position before he does.

    • Ok, I agreed with about 85% of what you said until that last sentence. Honestly, dude, what in the world has you convinced that this is the case? IMO he looks healthier than he did at LAST year's conference and he didn't collapse or anything. Yeah, he's sick, but he's still young enough that a full recovery from/management of whatever it is that's wrong with him is not impossible. You should be careful making statements like that when you don't personally have knowledge of the circumstances. It's harmful conjecture.

      • Half of the internet is based on conjecture and flat out lies. It's all part of this faceless, blameless and zero consequence aspect of the internet. Rant, rave, troll, lie, fight and be abusive and nobody ever has to know who the person saying it all really is.

  2. Apple (read Steve Jobs) has been so shook up by the explosion of Android, that he has now pushed 2 products to market prematurely. It seems to me that they introduced the “Bumper” in hope to counteract a known and unfixable problem. (Apple has never in iPhone history introduced an item to cover or distort their precious designer case).
    It is a shame that Apple (Steve) would do this to his loyal to the death fan-boys who would buy a skunk if it had an Apple logo on it. With great power comes Great responsibility.
    I really think that Steve is afraid that he will die soon and that Apple will lose it market position before he does.

    • Ok, I agreed with about 85% of what you said until that last sentence. Honestly, dude, what in the world has you convinced that this is the case? IMO he looks healthier than he did at LAST year’s conference and he didn’t collapse or anything. Yeah, he’s sick, but he’s still young enough that a full recovery from/management of whatever it is that’s wrong with him is not impossible. You should be careful making statements like that when you don’t personally have knowledge of the circumstances. It’s harmful conjecture.

      • Half of the internet is based on conjecture and flat out lies. It’s all part of this faceless, blameless and zero consequence aspect of the internet. Rant, rave, troll, lie, fight and be abusive and nobody ever has to know who the person saying it all really is.

  3. Well, I wasn't planning on using AT&T for mine anyway, so maybe it's only an AT&T problem? I'd like to hear an update when Verizon gets them.

  4. Well, I wasn’t planning on using AT&T for mine anyway, so maybe it’s only an AT&T problem? I’d like to hear an update when Verizon gets them.

  5. I did not say he WAS going to die only God and his doctor knows that. But i do believe he is afraid that will die sooner rather than latter. In the past 6 years he has had not one but 2 major life threatening health issues first pancreatic cancer in 2004 and then liver transplant last year. I don't care who you are this is going to scare you a bit.

    In the last year Steve has acted less like an CEO and more like a Dictator in fear of loosing his kingdom. He his trying to hang on to everything he has created while watching it slowly slip past his hands.

    One example is this sudden hate for anything Adobe. Oh Come on Steve.. in the 80's and 90's Adobe and Apple were the same word. If Adobe had not pulled Apples butt out of the fire with its desktop publishing software (the only product that a black and white computer was suitable for) and then again with programs like Premier when the Mac finely got color. Apple would have went the way of NeXT and Steve would be working at Microsoft Today,

    But Steve can not accept that it was other like Adobe and Microsoft who are more responsible for the survival of Apple than he was.

    I like Steve. What has done for Pixar and Apple for the last 15 years has been awesome but now he on the verge of loosing it.

    The Man is Scarred .. his actions show it..

    • I don't like apple either, but I didn't pay attention to what you wrote, the whole "special olympics" thing, ya know?

      anyway, the point is, it's spelled "lose"

      • Wow London R

        You can't argue with the facts you try to derail the issue by attracting the messenger.

        So what if Joe had a typo or two. it has nothing to do with the fact that he was correct in what he said.

  6. I did not say he WAS going to die only God and his doctor knows that. But i do believe he is afraid that will die sooner rather than latter. In the past 6 years he has had not one but 2 major life threatening health issues first pancreatic cancer in 2004 and then liver transplant last year. I don’t care who you are this is going to scare you a bit.
    In the last year Steve has acted less like an CEO and more like a Dictator in fear of loosing his kingdom. He his trying to hang on to everything he has created while watching it slowly slip past his hands.
    One example is this sudden hate for anything Adobe. Oh Come on Steve.. in the 80’s and 90’s Adobe and Apple were the same word. If Adobe had not pulled Apples butt out of the fire with its desktop publishing software (the only product that a black and white computer was suitable for) and then again with programs like Premier when the Mac finely got color. Apple would have went the way of NeXT and Steve would be working at Microsoft Today,
    But Steve can not accept that it was other like Adobe and Microsoft who are more responsible for the survival of Apple than he was.
    I like Steve. What has done for Pixar and Apple for the last 15 years has been awesome but now he on the verge of loosing it.
    The Man is Scarred .. his actions show it..

    • I don’t like apple either, but I didn’t pay attention to what you wrote, the whole “special olympics” thing, ya know?

      anyway, the point is, it’s spelled “lose”

      • Wow London R
        You can’t argue with the facts you try to derail the issue by attracting the messenger.

        So what if Joe had a typo or two. it has nothing to do with the fact that he was correct in what he said.

  7. Which is why I will NEVER buy an Apple product . . . aside from the iPod. (There really are no other decent MP3 players that _aren't_ made by Microsoft)

  8. Which is why I will NEVER buy an Apple product . . . aside from the iPod. (There really are no other decent MP3 players that _aren’t_ made by Microsoft)

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