The iPhone 4 is defective by design ... get used to it!

Summary:The issue might not affect everyone, but those affected by the iPhone 4 "grip of death" problem need to understand that the design flaw isn't going to be solved by something as simple as a software update.

The issue might not affect everyone, but those affected by the iPhone 4 "grip of death" problem need to understand that the design flaw isn't going to be solved by something as simple as a software update.

There's little doubt that the iPhone 4 (or at least some handsets under certain signal conditions) suffers from signal degradation when the handset is held "the wrong way" (specifically, in the left hand where a finger can bridge the gap between the two halves of the antenna which forms part of the chassis). Plenty of testing has been done and for the skeptics out there there is video evidence. The problem undoubtedly exists.

Last Friday Apple published a letter to iPhone 4 owners which basically amounts to little more than a bunch of weasel words. It was released the Friday before the July 4th weekend (in the hope that it would be buried quickly), and basically reframes the problem as an one that affects other handsets, and being a carrier issue (in other words shifting the blame to AT&T) rather than an Apple issue. Then there's a load of waffle about the algorithm controlling the signal strength meter being flawed, and promises of a software update to fix this cosmetic issue.

But none of this will fix the underlying issue ... that the problem is a design issue. Putting the antenna on the outside and make it part of the chassis of the handset might be revolutionary, but it's a case of two steps forward, one step back. Yes, the antenna does offer better overall reception, but under certain circumstances the antenna performs much worse than for previous iterations of the iPhone. Period.

Oh, and if you're still not convinced, AppleCare support staff have confirmed to Gizmodo that the upcoming software update for the iPhone 4 will not fix reception issues.

Bottom line, affected iPhone 4 users have four options:

  • Return the handset (Apple will waive the restocking fee)
  • Live with the problem
  • Get a case or bumper
  • Hold the handset a different way

One thing you can be sure of, this problem isn't going away.

Oh, and then there's the proximity sensor, which is also challenged ...

Topics: iPhone, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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