Four bars, gripping the sides of the iPhone 4

One bar with bottom left of iPhone 4 resting in palm
Steve Jobs responds to complaints about iPhone reception issues

Gizmodo has a thread with nearly 2,000 posts, Engadget is pushing 900 posts, and Mac Rumors is nearing 1,000 posts with regards to iPhone 4 reception issues. I have witnessed the same issues with the iPhone 4 that I picked up this morning (yet don't have any such reception issues with an HTC EVO 4G that I am currently testing or a year-old iPhone 3GS). The iPhone 4 starts off having 4 to 5 bars sitting by itself on a table, but if you pick the phone up and “palm it”, you may drop down to 1 bar or even get a “No Service” message.

For those that have just plunked down $200 or $300 on a new iPhone 4 (or more if you are upgrading before your contract is eligible), having your cellular connection drop out while doing something as simple as holding the phone in your hand is unacceptable.

However, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, those who are having reception issues are just holding their phone incorrectly. A reader sent an email to Steve Jobs stating that his new iPhone 4 was having receptions issues when holding it his hand. In typical Jobs fashion, his response was short and to the point according to Engadget:

Just avoid holding it that way.

Apple's official stance on the issue is the following:

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. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. 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.

So Apple made a phone with an external antenna that has problems with reception when it comes in contact with the human body, then blames the consumer for holding the iPhone 4 in a perfectly reasonable fashion. This seems to be a very puzzling and troubling statement from the boys from Cupertino which sounds more like a hardware design problem than a "you're holding it wrong" problem.

Interestingly enough, a user over at Apple Insider has a photo montage from Apple's iPhone 4 commercials that seems to contradict Jobs' "avoid holding it that way" comment.

And the little notation about using a case to fix what is at the heart a hardware issue also is a bit interesting as well. The bumper case for the iPhone 4 is the first iPhone case direct from Apple that we can recall -- possibly it was made available to mask the reception problems.

Updated 6/27/2010 @ 10:48 am

Steve Jobs has responded to another customer's email; this time with an even more perplexing statement:

There are no reception issues. Stay Tuned. 

First Jobs said that you should try holding the iPhone 4 a different way, then an official statement said that reception can be an problem depending on how you hold the phone and suggested users buy a case, and now Jobs is saying there are no reception issues. 

I guess we may have to wait until sometime this week when Apple is expected to release a software fix for the reception issues.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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