Jobs on iPhone 4 Reception Issues: Stay Tuned

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Following reports that the iPhone 4 suffers from signal loss issues depending on how users hold the device, one customer emailed Apple CEO Steve Jobs looking for for an answer. Mr. Jobs replied to say there isn’t an issue, and hinted that there’s something more to come.

“There is no reception issue,” Mr. Jobs said in his email response, according to MacRumors. “Stay tuned.”

Reports of wireless signal loss began cropping up early on the iPhone 4 June 24 launch day. Based on user experiences, holding the iPhone so that the separate antenna areas near the bottom of the device are both touched at the same time can cause signal strength to degrade.

Apple acknowledged the potential issue by stating “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.”

The company also stated that customers experiencing reception issues should change how they hold their iPhone, or purchase a case that covers the metal edges.

Rumors began surfacing at the end of last week that a software update to address the issue is on the way, although it’s unclear how a software patch could correct what looks to be a hardware-related issue.

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although it?s unclear how a software patch could correct what looks to be a hardware-related issue.

From my understanding, what is happening is that when the human skin completes the circuit between the two portions of the antenna/frame it basically “freaks” and doesn’t know what to do, resulting in the lowered reception. So a software fix will hopefully be able to tell it not to freak and do this instead of that kind of thing.

Just my not-so-in-depth technical analysis.

Lee Dronick

See this story from

Gareth Harris

Excellent link. Recommended.


I’m on my fifth day of iPhone4 use.  This reception issue seems to be coming from folks that have not used one and only ranting that they will not purchase one unless it’s “fixed”.

I can duplicate that “death grip” scenario at certain locations.  Other places, no signal bar issues.  However, even with one-bar displayed, I still get excellent call quality and 3G performance and have yet to get a dropped call.  This leads me to believe there is some kind of software issue that pertains to the displaying of the bars.

It’s the best iPhone yet made.  Stunning piece of technology.  Apple could have done a little better with the reception ranting going on but I have faith they will take care of it since they are always known for backing up their products.

Until then, I still recommend the new phone to those that ask me.  I think this subject has been blown WAY out of proportion.


Those of you who think this “non-issue” has been blown way out of proportion obviously don’t have the same issues that a lot of us have. Since day one, my ‘latest and greatest’ iPhone has had less than stellar reception, dropped calls and signal fluxuations. I even spent an extra $150.00 on the MicorCell….. works great until you get out of my driveway. So the phone is mostly useless in my area. I am considering going back to the 3 GS at this point. (and so are my 2 daughters and my girlfriend).


There’s an article on a competing site (something-World) that adds a valuable piece to this puzzle. The article states that the bars only represent the weakest 5% or so of reception, which is where calls get dropped. Indicating strength greater than 5% was deemed unnecessarily complex by the industry (hmm… I know I’d appreciate that information).

So those that exist in healthy bandwidth areas aren’t seeing any real-world issues, but those that are on the fringe see it clearly. And with ATT, fringe areas are common, so the issue is real for many is not most (sorry Steve).

I don’t see how they can address this with software, but who knows - them are some bright boys in Cupertino. But I imagine we’ll see a multi-segmented metal ring in future iPhones that automatically senses and accommodates hand positions by switching between segments on the fly. The antennae-on-the-outside is a bright idea, but needs real-world refinement.

And so the old adage about never buying a 1st-gen device is proved once again. The first iPhone might be considered an exception. Even though it wasn’t perfect, it had few real flaws. Enough so to qualify as alien technology among myself and friends.


I think we’ll see a design revision in the next edition of the iPhone 4… probably sooner than the typical year. And I imagine the solution might be two more “slots,” or divisions in the metal band around the phone. This would create two relatively short sections above the current divisions… sections that are wider than the average thumb… maybe an inch in length. So a finger bridging one or two of the gaps wouldn’t connect the entire band.

Or they’ll throw in the towel and come up with an internal antannae of some sort.

Until then I see more denial and a bucket of lawsuits… not sure what they can accomplish in software.

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