It’s not only the retina display that can be faulty on the iPhone 4. It turns out that some of Apple’s new smartphones also have signal reception issues – albeit only when you hold the handset with your left hand.
iPhone 4’s GSM/UMTS antenna is integrated into the stainless steel band that covers its sides, bottom and top. The Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi antennas are also integrated into it, but they take less space (see the photo below). It’s all part of the “brilliant design”, as Steve Jobs himself said when announcing the new device.
Basically, the stainless steel band is made out of two pieces, each containing antennas. They meet at the bottom-left corner of the iPhone 4 – and that’s where problems begin.
Engadget, Gizmodo, BGR and others report that lots of users are simply losing signal reception when holding their iPhone 4 in their left hand – sometimes calls are dropped, too. When held in your right hand, the issue doesn’t appear. Not all new iPhones have this problem, but it seems that an important percent of them do.
And just in case you’re wondering, this is not an AT&T-only problem. The same issue appeared in the UK (on O2’s network) and Germany (on T-Mobile).
Here are several videos that clearly illustrate the problem:
Fortunately, it seems that when you put a bumper case (sold directly by Apple for $29) on the iPhone 4, reception issues won’t bother you anymore, regardless of the way you’re holding the handset – this is explained by the fact that your (left) hand electrically connects the two antennas, interfering with signal reception.
This whole thing (plus the retina display issue) makes me seriously doubtful when it comes to the current state of Apple’s quality control. I’m actually asking myself whether or not Steve Jobs still remembers what his job really is: to make sure products are perfect before reaching end users, who pay good money for anything that’s Apple-branded.
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