On Antennas, Bumpers, And Old iPhones

I’ve had the iPhone 4 just about a week now. I’m going to post a full review on TechCrunch, hopefully tomorrow. But I wanted to jot down a couple quick things I’ve noticed about the antenna issue here.

  1. It is definitely real (at least in the phone I have).
  2. It is definitely only in the lower left corner (the right corner does nothing to degrade the signal).
  3. At first I thought it might just be that the bars were dropping but the connection was fine. But after some fairly in-depth testing today, that’s not the case. Calls will drop, data will stop.
  4. It took me a while to realize the problem because when in my left hand, I tend to naturally hold my hand above that lower area a bit. And when it my right hand, my fingers tend to not be in the forbidden zone.
  5. I almost never put the iPhone up to my ear to make a call — and haven’t since the first generation. Instead, I prefer to use the earbuds and leave the phone in my pocket. 
  6. That said, I do obviously surf the web while holding the device. And this problem does seem to affect data as well.
  7. The bumper definitely helps. But as far as I can tell so far, the signal is still degraded when the phone is held in the lower left area.
  8.  I’ve also been able to replicate the problem on the iPhone 3GS — though it’s harder to do.

That last point may be the most interesting to me. As I said, it is harder to reproduce the problem on that device — basically, I had to wrap my palm around the bottom of the thing — but I can definitely reproduce it. 

But even more interesting is the fact that when I do reproduce it, the signal strength bars don’t go down as they do on the iPhone 4. So it’s entirely possible this issue has been going on for a long time and no one really realized it simply because the software didn’t show it and now it does.

That said, again, it is much easier to reproduce on the iPhone 4. And while I’m not sure, I have a hard time believing Apple is going to fix this with software. (Unless they make it like the old software where it simply doesn’t show the problem.)

I know they’re apparently instructing Apple Store employees right now not to hand out bumpers to customers who complain, but I’m not so sure that eventually they won’t have to give them out for free to anyone who asks.

It reminds me of when the Wii first came out and people were throwing their remotes, so Nintendo had to make a program to give away wrist tethers. Obviously, this is a more pressing issue.

Still, I think it says something that I didn’t notice the issue until I specifically started testing for it. 

I want to do a bit more testing before I put this all in a full review — I’ll test on another unit tonight in a different area of the city. I also want to take a bit of time to see if I actually notice it in regular use now that I’m fully aware the issue exists on my specific device.

  1. parislemon posted this