UPDATE: iPhone 4 fever ... but is the new antenna the weak link?

UPDATE: iPhone 4 fever ... but is the new antenna the weak link?

Summary: Today is the launch day for the Apple iPhone 4 ... but some early adopters are concerned that the new style antenna is causing problems.

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Today is the launch day for the Apple iPhone 4 ... but some early adopters are concerned that the new style antenna is causing problems.

Excitement is building at Apple stores across the US. Hardware 2.0 reader Ashutosh Dharap is at the West Towne Mall Apple Store in Madison, WI.

6.30AM: In a relatively small town like Madison there's a huge line for the prebooked iphone and an even longer one for the non-reserved! I see people of all ages, but the lines are dominated by teenagers and young adults. I'm standing in the prebooked line thankfully.

Update: 6:50AM: apple store employees took a head count of the non reserved line vs # of phones in their inventory.

Update: 7AM : apple store employees...at least 20..ran thru the lines high fiving ppl, yelling and greeting everyone. At least a 100 non-reserved folks are getting their phones today. The line has started moving!

Here's a photo from the scene:

Apple employees are handing out snacks and drinks to those waiting in line.

But the iPhone 4 isn't without its teething troubles. Users are claiming that by just holding the phone in a certain way, the signal strength drops dramatically. Other users claim that this has a detrimental effect on call quality. Some early adopters have posted videos online showing the problem.

The issue here is very likely the new design antenna, which forms part of the stainless steel chassis of the iPhone 4. It's seems likely that hands (sweaty hands?) are causing interference or attenuation of the signal.

Can this be fixed with a software update? It's hard to tell at this stage. It is possible that a firmware update can be used to dial in the antenna, but it's too early to tell.

Is this why Apple decided to market $30 rubber "bumpers" for the new iPhone?

UPDATE: Seems like there's a potential screen issue too ...

UPDATE 2: Ashutosh seconds the antenna issue:

"I also did the antenna test, and unfortunately I've to agree with the other users - the antenna problem does exist. As I hold the left side of the phone in my hand (pretty much a natural position while on a call), the bars disappear one by one until there are no bars left."

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

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79 comments
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  • I asked that question when the iPhone

    had a connectivity issue at the unvailing, that could it be an issue with their "ingenious" new antenna design?
    John Zern
    • Come on, Apple tested iPhone 4 design since last fall

      @John Zern: I mean, lets be serious.
      DDERSSS
      • What's not serious about that?

        There's been alot of testing done on antennas of all kinds over the years, by both experts in the fields at various companies, and moreso in the military. If this design was so good and ingenious, the military and others would have adopted it long ago, which they haven't.

        You should look at things more realisticlly and objectivelly, instead of assuming that Apple has all the top, world renowned, most experienced and sought after experts in the world working for them inventing new breakthroughs in electronics.

        It's just not true. Sorry :(
        John Zern
      • Hmm pay extra for a phone that doesn't work

        On a network that doesn't work.

        Clearly the best that Apple can do on 3G is 1.2Mbps and 0.4Mbps being the standard. Thats awful compared to a G1 that does 4.4Mbps continuously.

        Kudos Apple, another reason to stay away from iPhone.

        http://www.speedtest.net/result/793084660.png
        Uralbas
    • Why do you even care?

      It's not as though you have anything but hate for all things Apple.
      zkiwi
      • ROFL dont know about others, but your comment is foolish

        I personally think that Apple products are over priced and over hyped, no feelings for them otherwise.

        Just trying to help others see that. I realize that's hard when you have are an Apple fan. Work with one, and no matter how much you prove Apple products are inferior, they still have the Ooohh... Aahh.. behavior.

        If you've used a 4G you will see multitasking is half baked. Swype is leaps ahead, Google Navigation what can we say. Gesture control. All these are available on any Android 1.6 and above phone, 75% of them. There are so many other features that make it better which is pointless to state cause Apple fans wont see it, until Apple has it. Even though its 2 years behind the curve and incorrectly done, case in point Multitasking.
        Uralbas
      • FYI...

        Mobile phones (all of them) are expensive and annoying balls and chains.

        My point still stands. Zern is just an Apple hater.
        zkiwi
  • Obviously, ***NO***: the phone was tested since last fall by Apple

    Apple people touched the phone all ways possible and it was fine.

    Bars issue was mentioned by Mossberg in his review and Apple said that it does not affect actual quality (and that is why people are able to talk whith one or zero bars) and that it will patch the glitch.

    <b>However, if a user will hold the phone some very specific way it can indeed interfere with the way antenna works. Apple has separated two antennas, which constitute steel frame. But if you hold it with one hand around left lower corner, then you make "short circuit" in some sense.</b>

    But this will never harm productivity of normal users since no one really will hold the device such strange way.
    DDERSSS
    • Addition: thus you touch *two* antennas with *one* hand

      -- that is not a nice thing to do. But, as I said, no one in real life will hold the phone this crooked way.

      Bumper will help this issue, but since it really does not matter (except for cases of defective assembly, when phones should be replaced), it really created for the phone to survive after continuous falling into *bumpy* asphalt as in the video which is now popular (on normal asphalt or concrete the phone would be fine far longer after falling).
      DDERSSS
      • Is there an app

        to become right ear dominant?
        faxmonkey
    • LOL!!!!! HILARIOUS!!!!

      @denisrs
      As if the "you aren't standing close enough to the wireless station" apology wasn't good enough, the new apology is: [i]your calls are dropping on the iPhone because you aren't holding it right[/i]

      HILARIOUS!!!!!!
      NonZealot
    • Sorry denisrs, but the bottom line is

      that Apple should <font color="red"><b>fire their amature antenna design team</b></font> because it sounds like someone messed up here <font color="green"><b>BIG TIME!</b></font>

      I can hold my phone any way I want. and it works the same.
      John Zern
      • Isn't Nokia suing Apple over antenna patents?

        Maybe Apple should have paid the patent license fees and kept using Nokia designs.
        anothercanuck
    • RE: iPhone 4 fever ... but is the new antenna the weak link?

      @denisrs: "But this will never harm productivity of normal users since no one really will hold the device such strange way."

      You mean only those of us who are left-ear dominant, who let the left lower corner of the phone rest against our palm as the fingers wrap around behind to the right side while we talk?
      Whyaylooh
      • Apple's suggestion to fix your problem

        Train yourself to be right-ear dominant, just like Steve Jobs is. Problem solved!
        NonZealot
  • More problems with iPhone 4

    http://wmpoweruser.com/?p=17379

    [i]iPhone 4 day reveals fragile device, yellow screen and poor reception, we LOL[/i]
    NonZealot
    • All "problems" are super **minority** or even fake

      @NonZealot:
      1) iPhone 4 is not fragile; reviewers dropped it repeatedly on hard floor and nothing happened. But, as I said above, the guy on video specifically chose to stand pebbles/broken stoned stuffed asphalt, not on normal one or on concrete. With that bumpy surface no wonder that iPhone4 died sooner than it would last otherwise;
      2) yellow spots are either replaced or come off on their own in few days (because those come from screen interlayer glue used that did not evaporate normally). Any way this is super minority problem.
      3) reception is perfectly fine unless you hold the phone by left lower corner with one hand, connecting thus two antennas and making a kind of "short circuit". If there is assembly defect, then Apple just replaces it; very minor problem.
      DDERSSS
      • How much is Apple paying you

        denisrs? I'm totally serious as <font color="red"><b><i>nobody</i></b></font>defends a company like you do unless there's something in it for you.

        Here you have people who have actually purchased the iPhone saying that there is an issue they are having, and yet you, sight unseen, defend Apple as being all knowing and incapable of making a mistake, and the end user being the stupid one who doesn't understand how to use a cell phone.

        You have to be on the payroll or something, as your excuses border on the ridiculous.
        John Zern
    • RE: iPhone 4 fever ... but is the new antenna the weak link?

      @NonZealot Looks like YOU are the one who wrote that article...
      athynz
  • RE: iPhone 4 fever ... but is the new antenna the weak link?

    phew?too glad got the american test the first product first~
    Lghost