Steve Jobs Responds To iPhone 4 Signal Complaints

Steve Jobs has personally responded to the rising number of complaints of mobile reception problems with Apple’s new iPhone 4 handset.

Apple only announced the iPhone 4 in early June in the US, but details of the handset were leaked in photos a  number of times, before its final launch on 24 June.  in the UK, the first batch of pre-orders sold out in less than 24 hours, and customers queued for hours to get hold of the device.

iPhone 4 Death Grip

Almost immediately, reports began circulating that the iPhone 4 had shipped with an antenna problem. This causes the handset to either lose signal altogether, or show a much weaker signal strength when it is held in a particular way, mostly in the left hand with the palm covering the lower left part of the stainless steel band that houses some of the antennae.

The problem, dubbed the ‘iPhone 4 Death Grip’, has been demonstrated in a YouTube video demonstrating the problem, and more than 400 messages have already been posted to a thread on Apple’s iPhone 4 support forum.

“I can replicate this issue. Signal drops from 4-5 bars to ‘searching for signal…’ when I hold it in my palm or cover up the line on the lower left side of the phone,” complained a user identified as yoshjosh. “I understand that cell signals may degrade when you cover up the antenna, but I have never seen anything this severe, and I’m not holding the phone differently than I think most people hold their phones.”

“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas,” Apple responded in an official statement to PC Magazine and other media outlets. “This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your Phone 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.”

Steve Jobs Email

Steve Jobs himself was drawn into the controversy, when he replied to an email sent by one user who was experiencing problems.

On his ‘Sample For Web‘ blog, a user by the name of C.K. Sample III emailed Steve Jobs about the issue and asked him if there were “any plans” to fix the problem.

Jobs responded, saying that this is a problem that can affect any phone, repeating Apple’s advice to hold the phone differently, and to use a case to prevent the issue.

“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas,” said Jobs in his email reply and he then repeated Apple’s official advice.

“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,” Jobs wrote.

Use The Band

So Apple’s advice to iPhone 4 users is clear. Avoid covering the metal strip of your handset with your hand, or alternatively buy a ‘bumper’ to break direct contact with the antenna.

These bumpers are specifically designed for the iPhone 4 and are effectively coloured bands of rubber and moulded plastic which should clip over the stainless steel band on the handset, in order to protect the device from knocks and bumps.

Unfortunately however, these bumpers which cost £25 and are available in a range of colours, will not be shipped until at least 16 July, according to the Apple website.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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