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Hands-on review: iPhone Patch

The iPhone 4 isn't exactly known for good reception, but the iPhone Patch was designed with the hope of filling in the gap.

The iPhone 4 isn't exactly known for good reception, but the iPhone Patch was designed with the hope of filling in the gap.

The concept of the iPhone Patch emerged around the whole "Antennagate" fiasco earlier this summer, and reports that holding the iPhone 4 in the left hand reduces or drops reception altogether. There are a number of quick fixes, such as an old wrist band or a regular case, but the Patch is the smallest and probably the simplest.

The Patch is a small rectangular sticker that you place over the antenna on the left side of the iPhone. But to add some personality, there are plenty of designs to choose from, including flags, barbed wire, flowers and the essential phrase, "Got Bars?" More will be unveiled later for the holidays.

In practice, the Patch is somewhat useful. I tried the Patch both indoors and outdoors and in both hands. In my right hand and when neither of my hands covered the antenna, the bars remained about the same.

When using the iPhone (or any other AT&T mobile device) inside my house, coverage hovered between two and three bars without the patch. When in my left hand without the patch, I didn't have any service. Death grip! But with the patch, it had between two to three bars.

Finally, when I went outside, I consistently had three to four bars with the patched iPhone in my left hand. But when I removed the Patch, service dropped to one to two bars.

I should note that I never had a full set of bars, with or without the Patch. You can blame that one on Apple or AT&T - take your pick.

Both long and short patches are $1.50 a piece and are available in packages of six for $5.99. The Patch isn't going to do anything to protect your phone from drops - only dropped calls maybe. Thus, I'd probably still go with a case, but this is still a pretty innovative idea.

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