iPhone 4's 'really cool' antenna causing signal issues

Just a "fact of life" for mobile users, claims Apple...

Just a "fact of life" for mobile users, claims Apple...

Users of the iPhone 4 have reported problems with signal reception when holding the device in certain ways.

The latest iteration of Apple's iPhone smartphone, which went on sale in the UK yesterday, has had various feature upgrades plus a redesign - and now sports a flat, stainless steel band running all around its edge. The metal strip is used to make the handset more robust but also acts as part of the iPhone's antenna system, according to Apple.

iPhone 4's stainless steel band

The stainless steel band that wraps around the iPhone 4
(Photo credit: Apple)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained its function during the official unveiling of iPhone 4 at WWDC earlier this month.

"This is part of some brilliant engineering which actually uses the stainless steel band as part of the antenna system," he said during the keynote. "One piece [of the band] is Bluetooth, wi-fi and GPS and the other is UMTS and GSM and so it's got these integrated antennas right in the structure of the phone."

"It's never been done before and it's really cool engineering," Jobs added.

However some users of the new iPhone have noticed that network reception appears to drop off when the device is held in certain ways. This YouTube video (below), posted by a US iPhone owner, appears to demonstrate how signal reception changes significantly depending on how the device is held.

According to Apple, the problem occurs when a user covers the lower left portion of the metal band while simultaneously touching a portion of the strip on the right-hand side. The company claimed, however, reception problems are "a fact of life" for all mobile phones.

In statement quoted by the BBC, Apple said: "Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. 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."

According to the BBC, an iPhone 4 user who emailed Jobs to ask if Apple is planning a fix for the antenna issue was apparently told: "Just avoid holding it in that way."