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Some iPhone 4 launch units lose signal when held with left hand

post #1 of 446
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Some users have experienced poor signal and dropped calls when holding Apple's new iPhone 4 in their left hand, which makes their palm cover a seam that separates the device's two perimeter radio antennas.

When Apple announced the iPhone 4 earlier this month, the company revealed that the metal band around the outside of the device has breaks in it to allow the multiple antennas inside the device -- for cellular service, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more -- to establish connections. The larger metal piece on the right side of the phone serves as the GSM/UMTS cellular antenna, and the smaller portion on the left side is responsible for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS.

For some, covering -- or even just touching -- the point where the two antennas meet on the left side of the phone can cause loss of signal (via Insanely Great Mac) and even dropped calls. The reports suggest that the issue is worse than the problem described by Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

In his review of the iPhone 4, Mossberg said that the device sometimes registers no bars, or fewer bars than the iPhone 3GS, even though a call can still be placed. He spoke with Apple about the issue, and the company said they are aware and are working on a patch to resolve it.

But as noted by Engadget, some users actually do lose reception and experience dropped calls when covering the antenna seam on the left side of the device, naturally done when holding the phone in one's left hand.

"One iPhone 4 demonstrated the issue every time it was held in our left hand (as a right-handed person is apt to do) so that our palm was essentially bridging the two antennas)," the report said.

It continued: "Bridging the two with a finger tip, however, didn't cause any issues with the reported reception. If we had to guess, we'd say that our conductive skin was acting to detune the antenna -- in fact, we've already managed to slowly kill two calls that way so it's not just an issue with software erroneously reporting an incorrect signal strength."



Others, however, have experienced the issue simply by touching the seam where the two antennas meet with a fingertip. However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets.

The report went on to note that the problems disappeared when the official rubber "bumper" protective case, sold by Apple for $29, is attached to the handset.
post #2 of 446
Thank you for repoting this. Won't be forgotten.

Let's see what "solipsism" says now.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #3 of 446
Why is everybody complaining so much about it?
It's a feature !!!
post #4 of 446
Is this not a problem when iPhone 4 is held in the right hand?

Maybe that's the fix - hold iPhone 4 in the right hand for the best possible reception.

That Apple... so darn innovative.

(yes, this post was in jest)
post #5 of 446
Ummmm....I'm right handed so I hold the phone in my right hand as most right handed people do. It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.
post #6 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Let's see what "solipsism" says now.

"However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets."

Let's see what irrational argument you create from that comment. Next time you might want to read the entire article before posting.
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post #7 of 446
I have this problem and I am a left handed phone user!

However, it does it on both my hands.
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #8 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Ummmm....I'm right handed so I hold the phone in my right hand as most right handed people do. It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.

Well, I'm right handed, and I hold the phone in my left hand when I make a call, preferring to have my right hand free to do things with. So it's a problem for more than just lefties, or maybe it's less of a problem for lefties if my way is not unusual. I'm guessing this didn't show up in field tests because they had them in those special cases to make it look like a 3GS. If this turns out to actually be the problem, they need to modify the design immediately to fix it. (Seems unlikely it could be fixed in software, but, if so, all the better.) For those who already own an iPhone 4, they should offer free Bumper cases to mitigate the problem.
post #9 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Ummmm....I'm right handed so I hold the phone in my right hand as most right handed people do. It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.

Don't ask me why, but I'm a lefty and I almost always hold my iPhone in my right hand. Even when I switch to my left hand, it feels less comfortable to me and I end up switching back to my right hand before too long. I'm sure the fact that I use me left hand to actually operate the touchscreen plays a small role in the reason why I hold my phone with my right hand.
post #10 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.

Now you're' jumping on the BS wagon?
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post #11 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

"However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets."

Are you still going to say it's a design flaw affecting all units despite evidence to the contrary?

Proof? Show me the proof. From what I can see the cases - when even demonstrated in videos - that were not affect were the people just missing the black band connection in the slot. Engadget will no doubt retest this specific issue, so we'll see what happens.

I'm not a troll. You're just overly defensive when it comes to criticisms of Apple. This is a MAJOR issue, you just don't want to face it.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #12 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Now you're' jumping on the BS wagon?

No he's not.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #13 of 446
It appears that the problem may be when you bridge a connection between the UMTS and GPS/Bluetooth/WiFi antennas. I wonder if there is even a software fix for that?
post #14 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Ummmm....I'm right handed so I hold the phone in my right hand as most right handed people do. It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.

Actually if you are right-handed, you would hold the phone with your left hand so that you can use it with your right hand. In which case you might see the problem.

I am seeing it with my iPhone 4 about half the time when I deliberately try to reproduce it. However after hours natural usage I have only seen it happen once.
post #15 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

"However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets."

It's probable that it is affected by exactly how you hold your phone. I don't have an iPhone 4, but, using my iPhone 3GS, it does seem that the way I hold it while on a call would not "short" the antennas, assuming that is what is happening.
post #16 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcjr View Post

It appears that the problem may be when you bridge a connection between the UMTS and GPS/Bluetooth/WiFi antennas. I wonder if there is even a software fix for that?

That's the worry. We'll have to wait a day or two to see what Apple officially says.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #17 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Ummmm....I'm right handed so I hold the phone in my right hand as most right handed people do. It's the unfortunate 11% of us who are left handed who are going to have issues.

I'm right handed, so I hold my phone in the left hand so I can use the right hand to type and touch icons etc (i.e. to drive it).

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post #18 of 446
....like any other cell phone manufacturer, I'm sure Apple has field tested this device for several months. Maybe these are just a few isolated manufacturing defects on the first batch?
post #19 of 446
I've been trying to do this all morning and it only did it on the road while driving to my office in an area with a lot of trees. The signal is already finicky in that area anyways, so maybe it was just that. Plus it was rainy too. I've been in my office all morning and can't duplicate it.
post #20 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mario View Post

I'm right handed, so I hold my phone in the left hand so I can use the right hand to type and touch icons etc (i.e. to drive it).

That's a good point too. I'm saddened by this revelation. I was looking forward to getting an iPhone 4, but now I'm left in limbo.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #21 of 446
One way to avoid this problem. Use a bluetooth headset so you don't have to hold your phone.
post #22 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

....like any other cell phone manufacturer, I'm sure Apple has field tested this device for several months.

They *have* being testing it in the field. But they have has cases on them to disguise them, thus their hands "when they were in the field" were never touching that band, so there's was no real antenna connection made. The reason it's hard to believe is because something this crazy may actually be true.

It's sickening to think this may not be fixable via firmware. I'll be holding my breath on this one.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #23 of 446
My prediction is that this is a hardware problem, and that:

1) Apple will roll a new hardware revision that fixes this problem.
2) Those who bought the first batch will get free replacements.

I expect this to take several weeks.
post #24 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

That's the worry. We'll have to wait a day or two to see what Apple officially says.

My pre-order is scheduled to arrive on Monday (it was originally scheduled to ship by July 2nd). I'm hoping we'll see some kind of official acknowledgment from Apple by then. If it truly is a widespread problem, I'm sure the media will be all over it and Apple will have no choice but to respond to the situation.
post #25 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityCheck View Post

My prediction is that this is a hardware problem, and that:

1) Apple will roll a new hardware revision that fixes this problem.
2) Those who bought the first batch will get free replacements.

I expect this to take several weeks.

You may be right. I'm wondering how they'll fix it though, seeing as the antennas are external and spanning the edge of the whole phone. It seems to me if some magic software update cannot fix this we may be looking at a major hardware design change to the phone. And who knows how long that will take.

This may turn out to the: "The big antenna issue."
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #26 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

I've been trying to do this all morning and it only did it on the road while driving to my office in an area with a lot of trees. The signal is already finicky in that area anyways, so maybe it was just that. Plus it was rainy too. I've been in my office all morning and can't duplicate it.

This is good to hear. With your experiences, and hearing that at least one review unit didn't have the problem, I am more optimistic that there are just a bad batch of phones.

Perhaps when they were assembled the antennas were connected incorrectly, or some parts are touching inside that aren't supposed to. Hopefully we will have some real answers soon. I'm sure Engadget, Gozmodo, and every other tech blog out there will do some thorough tests and let us know what they find.

I need and want an iPhone 4, so I hope they get this fixed very quickly.
post #27 of 446
Hmm, would seem that a large portion of right handed people would hold the new iPhone in their LEFT hand while freeing up their right hand to take notes, use a mouse etc.

Skin is conductive, palms and fingers don't have oil glands so the needed oils are transfered from other skin locations. This also could have a corrosive long term effect on that portion of the new iPhones.

Likely the only solution would be to hold the iPhone by one's finger tips, instead of palming gripping it, thus increasing the chances of dropping it.

By the way 26% of iPhones break within 2 years.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/artic...within_2_years
post #28 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

You may be right. I'm wondering how they'll fix it though, seeing as the antennas are external and spanning the edge of the whole phone. It seems to me if some magic software update cannot fix this we may be looking at a major hardware design change to the phone. And who knows how long that will take.

The hardware change might not be as major as we think. Perhaps it is as simple as changing the composition of some metal component, or adding in some kind of thin insulator between some connectors, or something.

At this rate I think they will have to fix it, though. It could become a major issue otherwise.
post #29 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Proof? Show me the proof. From what I can see the cases - when even demonstrated in videos - that were not affect were the people just missing the black band connection in the slot. Engadget will no doubt retest this specific issue, so we'll see what happens.

I'm not a troll. You're just overly defensive when it comes to criticisms of Apple. This is a MAJOR issue, you just don't want to face it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

"However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets."

Let's see what irrational argument you create from that comment. Next time you might want to read the entire article before posting.

Oooohh Ireland vs Solipsism... Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
post #30 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post

Skin is conductive, palms and fingers don't have oil glands so the needed oils are transfered from other skin locations. This also could have a corrosive long term effect on that portion of the new iPhones.

Now you're losing it.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #31 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityCheck View Post

My prediction is that this is a hardware problem, and that:

1) Apple will roll a new hardware revision that fixes this problem.
2) Those who bought the first batch will get free replacements.

I expect this to take several weeks.

If you are correct and Apple issues a formal recall, or just quietly replaces them case-by-case, I wonder how many phones they had ready for launch that may basically go into the trashcan? I guess they would probably try to retrofit these with a fix, but if they can't, Apple may have a giant pile of spare iPhone parts when this is all said and done.
post #32 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

They *have* being testing it in the field. But they have has cases on them to disguise them, thus their hands "when they were in the field" were never touching that band, so there's was no real antenna connection made. The reason it's hard to believe is because something this crazy may actually be true.

Speaking as a layperson (with an electronics background not particularly related to mobile phone technology), the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard that the bands around the outside of the iPhone 4 were antennas was what effect (if any) gripping the phone with your hand will have on signal reception. With that said, even though the engineers and testers typically had the prototypes in a disguising case, they must have tested what effect contact with a hand would have on the antennas. Again, I'm no expert and this popped into my head immediately. I gotta believe it occurred to the engineers as well.
Also, I'm not in denial here. I'm concerned about my soon-to-be-arriving iPhone and may not open it until I have a chance to run down to the local Apple store and try to reproduce the problem.
post #33 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

You may be right. I'm wondering how they'll fix it though, seeing as the antennas are external and spanning the edge of the whole phone. It seems to me if some magic software update cannot fix this we may be looking at a major hardware design change to the phone. And who knows how long that will take.

Give away free Bumpers...

However, this issue doesn't seem to affect all phones either, like engadget said their review unit was fine, so their could be manufacturing variation as well.

At worst, it's a minor PR snafu, but there needs to be more controlled testing too, yeah it happens on some YT vids, but there could be a lot of variables in play.
post #34 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

You may be right. I'm wondering how they'll fix it though, seeing as the antennas are external and spanning the edge of the whole phone. It seems to me if some magic software update cannot fix this we may be looking at a major hardware design change to the phone. And who knows how long that will take.

This may turn out to the: "The big antenna issue."

If it is a shorting issue due to damp hands as some seem to suggest, a layer of clear plastic (clear nail varnish?) or a case would suffice one would think. I find it hard to believe it is a transmission issue as flesh and bone don't block signals do they? Of course it could all be hysteria and FUD or limited to a few. It will be interesting to see.
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post #35 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityCheck View Post

The hardware change might not be as major as we think. Perhaps it is as simple as changing the composition of some metal component, or adding in some kind of thin insulator between some connectors, or something.

At this rate I think they will have to fix it, though. It could become a major issue otherwise.

All it might take is some sort of clear plastic cover (it must be durable) to prevent direct skin contact with the metal band. The bumpers would work.....but many of us find those rubber services to 'sticky' to easily get our iPhones in and out of our pockets.
post #36 of 446
Any kid with an old remote control car knows that it behaves oddly sometimes when you hold the antenna in your hand, or touch the car's antenna to the remote's antenna.

I guess no one at Apple played with remote control cars
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post #37 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post

All it might take is some sort of clear plastic cover (it must be durable) to prevent direct skin contact with the metal band.

Perhaps they'll start clear-coating the metal bands. Either way, it'll be interesting to see how this develops.
post #38 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

"However, the review unit given to the tech blog before the release of the iPhone 4 did not experience any of these issues, suggesting it does not apply to all handsets."

Let's see what irrational argument you create from that comment. Next time you might want to read the entire article before posting.

The AT&T network uses 2 different frequency bands (800 & 1900). This issue might only affect one of these bands, hence why some users don't experience the issue.
post #39 of 446
So purchase a friggin' Bumper and "problem" solved!

Seriously.... how did some of you manage to get this far in life?
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Pity the agnostic dyslectic. They spend all their time contemplating the existence of dog.
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post #40 of 446
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Also, I'm not in denial here. I'm concerned about my soon-to-be-arriving iPhone and may not open it until I have a chance to run down to the local Apple store and try to reproduce the problem.

I didn't mean you. But there a few people here who don't want to admit to this issue. I'm not trying to start flames, that's just what seems to be happening.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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