Thursday, 24 June 2010

Apple disappoints again: grave signal issues in iPhone 4!

    This is a reader video found on Macrumors forums illustrating something weird. When the guy holds the iPhone in his hands, touching the outside antenna band in two places, he drops reception. Placing the phone down gets him 4 bars.

   We're not sure if he's doing something particularly weird, like holding the metal antenna in such a way that it's shorting out. But it is strange. Or, it could be just a bug in the software, showing no bars and no reception even when you do have reception. But, he does hold the phone with the glass, and it doesn't have this reception issue.

If you've got an iPhone 4, we'd like to have you test this out too, and contribute to YOUR iPhone 4 review. Test holding it in various ways, like one finger on the glass and one on the metal, or any combination that you think might produce different results. Let us know what you find.

Update: Make sure to test this while you're IN a call too, to see if the call drops. This way we can determine if it's just displaying bars incorrectly, or if it really does impact your reception.
Update 2: Here's a video from Foundry Architect (same guy as above), with Wi-Fi off, that illustrates the same issue.

Update 3: Another confirmation from Chris Morris where he shows the problem, where it doesn't lose service, but loses about 4 bars.

Chris also said he tested the hands thing while in 5 calls, and said that none have dropped so far. He had a conversation for 10 minutes while the phone was displaying no signal with no problem. This might point to a display issue? But how does that explain the images below, in Update 4? Weird. Here's him making a call while the phone shows 0 bars.

Update 4: Reader Chris Sheehan did a speed test with the phone sitting down, with his hands on the phone, and one with his hands on but with a leather case on it. They're in order, and the one with his hands on the bare phone is really bad times.

Chris also says he went do dial a number when he lost signal with his hand on it, and could not get a call out.

Update 5: Reader Garrett Hampton has the same, and his illustrates dramatically going from 5 bars to 1 bar, back to 4 bars. This is worrying.

Update 6: Reader Tobias directs us to this article, in which a Danish professor who's an expert in antennas, predicted that human touch would interfere with the antenna, because it's on the outside of the phone.

Update 7: Reader Sam says it only happens to him when touches the left side, connecting both antennas. I wonder, maybe there's some kind of weird way of holding it where you don't connect both antennas?

Update 8: Reader Steven confirms! His jumps from 5 bars directly to one bar...on EDGE.

Update 9: Reader Justin also confirms.

Update 10: The cynical view is that this is a known issue, and is one of the reasons why Apple is finally releasing the first-party bumper case, where they previously just let third-parties take care of it. [Apple Store]

Update 12: TotheFloor's video shows what happens when he's in a call. When the phone hits 1 bar, he can still make a call, but not when it's "searching for signal." He says when he's in a call and the phone drops to 1 bar, the person on the other end can't hear him.

Update 13: FameFoundry
narrowed it down to touching the left side and the bottom (left) portion of the phone. They tested it multiple times with multiple people, indoors, outdoors, in various locations (even shoes vs. no shoes) and it drops exactly the same every time.

Update 14: Look! Reader Adam posts this video of his phone not having this problem. Very interesting.

Update 15: Reader Lucas confirms the bar droppage.

He also tests making a call, and the bars continuously drop, but they haven't dropped the call. So the call is still active at one bar, but they're still connected.

Update 16: Reader Erik confirms what FameFoundry (Update 13) found, which is, if you don't touch the bottom of the phone, you're fine. But as soon as you connect the left side with the bottom, that's when reception starts to drop.

Thanks tipsters! Keep sending these in. If you have a bumper case and can test with the bumper case on, that would be great.