back to article iPhone 4: Perfect for everyone, except humans

Apple's new iPhone doesn't seem to like being touched much, and the beautiful (if easily discoloured) screen scratches too. Dear dear. To be fair, the scratching issue only affects the more-clumsy user, and there are only a couple of reports about discolouration in the corner of the screen, but it seems that the majority of …


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  1. Greg J Preece

    So they improved the antenna

    By making it worse? Nice.

    Could this be why Mr Jobs was having problems getting a wi-fi signal at the demo?

  2. D@v3

    yeah, but...

    having had a 3G for the last 2 years, I don't think I have ever once, held it by the sides, it usually either sits flat on one hand for single (or multiple) digit use, or on the fingers of the other hand for thumb operation.

    Granted, for phone calls that's not necessarily the case, but more often than not phone calls are made/received while using my Sennheiser headset while listening to music.

    Not going to deny that it could be an issue though.

  3. Ben Rosenthal

    the file o fax of our time

    would still perform it's primary function even if it were hollowed out and then filled with gummy sweets.

  4. Robert E A Harvey

    Not surprised

    I never hear anyone reviewing smartphones talking about the phone.

    I have been very dissapointed with nearly all the modern phones I have tried out, but not seen such a radical drop in signal strength as is described. but poor audio quality seems to be par for the course, especially microphone quality.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Nuff said.

  6. l3v5y
    Jobs Horns

    Testing in cases?

    I have a suspicion that in early testing, when the device is wrapped up in those cases that make it look like a 3GS, it would have been missed.

    Why would you want to make calls? I thought the only reason was to have one next to your face shouting "I HAVE A ****ING IPHONE! I'M BETTER THAN YOU BECAUSE STEVE TOLD ME SO!".

  7. Mark_W
    Jobs Horns

    It's an electroconductivity issue

    I seem to remember a comment about the breaks in the case being down to seperating the different antennas that the external steel band is acting as - so is it possible that the act of holding the phone like that (with sweaty salty hands) is causing a short or somewhat between the two parts of the case causing the radio to drop out?

    So the iPhone band case would insulate against this issue.

    Bit of a design flaw, though, Mr Ive....

    1. Doug Glass

      Inductive Coupling

      It's called inductive coupling. In this case, the hand, just a tiny bit sweaty even though you think it's dry, inductively couples with the antenna and basically "steals" signal. The fact that this device allows this to the extent demonstrated indicates an extremely poorly designed RF antenna circuit.

      The only cheap, practical fix is to create distance between the antenna and hand. Insulation is worthless. You can confirm this simply by observing any "through the glass" cell phone antenna. Glass is a nearly perfect electrical insulator at the voltages of modern communications devices, but the RF signal penetrates the glass easily. Some tinted windows will attenuated the signal, but these are generally not a large problem given the proximity of cell phone towers. The iPhone has a large problem.

      Looks like the iPhone needs a clunky case in which to center it and keep hands at a distance. Or a speaker phone app maybe.

      If I were a fanatical juvenile, I'd be really angry. But since I use a Palm Pre Plus with outstanding RF quaities I'm happy. And damn! Look at the cost you FJs are forking over for a K-Mart quality phone. Makes me, well... laugh. :+)

  8. nickrw


    I seem to recall something about the 4 jumping around 3G frequencies to find the least cluttered / best quality, regardless of actual signal strength - related?

    I can't reproduce it on my shiny new handset, but I can see the signal jumping around with it just lying on my desk. I think O2 might actually be having 3G problems here as it dropped to all-bars edge for a while too.

  9. salada2k

    More info required

    It seems fairly unlikely Apple would have missed that, given all the R&D obviously poured into the phone over 18 months or whatever it was. Field testers tended (from what we know) to have had cases on their iphone 4's to disguise them as 3G's so people are insinuating that maybe just maybe they did miss it. Personally I dont think so. Others are saying they do not suffer this problem at all, no matter which way they hold it. Some also say that if you hold the phone to your ear naturally, then you dont touch 'the right bits' to cause signal degradation.

    Obviously a case would prevent all of this. Then again, it's not too far fetched that some people, may be simply experiencing faulty hardware, perhaps there was a design glitch?

    Here's another one: I remember hearing a year or two ago that there was a major conspiracy in the mobile business, whereby cellphone makers would basically 'rig the bars' to lie to you about what signal strength your phone is giving you. Point is lets not forget there is a direct correlation between hardware and software here. Maybe they software controlling it is too sensitive? OK you might say it went to 'Searching' and that presents a bit of a problem. And I'd most certainly agree that is a big worry. But the guy in the video didn't demonstrate a real life scenario, when you're on a call. But then of course how do you hold it when youre browsing the web via cellular? Probably like that guy just did. It's strange but the evidence is by no means compelling.... Why did the guy in the video not do a test while he was actually attempting to use the cellular network. That would have been more useful. Can someone try it whilst using a case? Every attempt at demonstrating this 'problem' has lacked a proper technical method of testing IMO. I still just cant buy that Apple would have not noticed this during R&D?

    1. l3v5y


      There's another video showing a massive drop in data rates when touching the phone differently.

      The bars are pretty meaningless, there is a correlation between faster data and more bars, but it's not an exact science and depends on a lot of things.

      1. salada2k

        Not all units

        There's plenty of people reporting, and even some videos on youtube of units that don't have the problem? I don't claim to know whats going on I was just throwing some suggestions out there. It's pretty clear there is a major problem, I'm just confused as to why some people arent suffering from it.

  10. Mark Jan

    This Changes Everything - Again!

    Yes, a mobile phone which you can't hold to your head to make a call - really does change everything!

    Not even sure there'll be an app for that.

    Come on fanbois, time to tell us how holding the iPhone in a contorted fashion is a wonderful Apple idea designed to prevent arthritic fingers in old age or to prevent radiation frying from your brain.

    Form over function - never would have believed it of Apple! ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Mark Feb

      Jumping to conclusions, the bastion of the anti-Apple-ites, where 1=ALL.

    2. DaveyDaveDave

      Well predicted, sir :)

      "Steve Jobs responded to a query about the problem from one owner by saying: 'Just avoid holding it in that way.'"

      1. Anonymous John

        That sounds familiar

        [Tommy Cooper]

        "Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

        "Well don't do it then."

        [/Tommy Cooper]

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For what it's worth

    I had a Nokia N97 (utter crap) that did exactly the same thing.

    Also, it often displayed that it had a full signal then as soon as you made a call, it dropped to 1 bar, so it could be a general problem with phone signals.

    Never mind though, they will probably fix this in the iPhone 5 when that is announced in six months.

    1. l3v5y

      Weak signal?

      If you were in a weak signal area (in doors for example), odd reflections can confuse the radio circuitry, so it things there's more signal than there is. If you actually try something, that situation can change, and cause the bars displayed to change.

  12. Badwolf

    Ho Ho Ho

    I can't believe it. Me and my wife were sitting watching TV when the founder of Apple just walked into the house and took all our Mr Sheen!

    Typical, Jobs, coming over here and stealing our polish.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Stop stealing jokes from Sickipedia

      And get yer own. :-p

  13. salada2k

    Software bug??

    Just searching around and apparently Apple have stated that it's a software glitch. Check Wish I had my own to test. Hurry up and start shipping to Aus, Apple!

  14. Yves Kurisaki
    Thumb Down

    Oh dear..

    The anti-Apple fanboys at The Register must be having a party right now.

    Keep your eye on the job people!

    There's more flimsy tech news and anti-Apple stories to report on!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Aww the poor apple victims

      Poor vunerable appletards... stop picking on them everyone, if they want to buy crap, let them buy crap in peace.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Yeah! Rock on, brother!

        I mean Nokia and HTC are *famous* for their rock-solid build quality, amazing service and slick, bug-free software.

        Oh, wait...


        1. Anonymous Coward

          @ Sean Skidmarco Baglady

          Say what you like about Nokia and HTC smartphones, but you can't deny that they do actually work as *phones*.

          1. RichyS


            You've never used an HTC WinMob 'smart' phone, have you?

  15. ES

    Same on 3G (but not as bad)

    I just tested my 3G it had a 5 bar signal indication, I held it in my hand and it went to a 2 bar indication. UK O2.

    But losing all the signal has to be a fail.

  16. Pyers

    I was worried this might happen

    Funnily enough that is exactly what I was thinking when Jobs was talking about using the casing as an antenna.

    As I happens (and rather boringly!) I know quite a lot about antenna theory and design. Antennas rely on 'voltage gradients' in their radiating elements and touching any part of an antenna causes those voltages to be reduced and/or dissipated. This can severely impair the radiation efficiency of the antenna.

    This is why antennas need to be in (or as close as possible) to free space, and are either sticking out the tops of the phone (not so much these days) or behind an insulating cover.

    I had rather assumed that Apple were using hyperbole in their statements about the case actually being the aerial and that it in some way supplemented internal antennas, but if that is not the case (pun intended) then they have made a fundamental error.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not boring at all

      But interesting. Makes me wonder what they were thinking with this design.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        Re: "Makes me wonder what they were thinking with this design."

        That it'd make a nice marketing bullet point?

        (Shame it doesn't actually seem to work)

    2. Brian 6


      Actually u know nothing about antenna theory. The human body can actually act AS AN ANTENNA. This fact could have been taken advantage of. The Iphone 4 is not the first phone which had the case as part of the antenna. Still other peoples theory's about the had shorting otherwise insulated parts of the case might hold some truth.

      1. Martin Silver badge

        @Brian 6 - @Pyers

        Why is it that on the internet, people seem to think that bloody rudeness is some sort of substitute for reasonable argument?

        If Pyers had stated in a pub that he knew quite a lot about antenna theory, and you, Brian 6, had said to him, "Actually, you know nothing about antenna theory", he'd have, quite justifiably, told you where to get off.

    3. Nexox Enigma

      Ah good...

      ...someone pointed it out before I did.

      I'm just not sure what the point of a glass back is, if you aren't taking advantage of the superior radio-transparency, by, you know, putting antennas behind it.

      I personally think that metal bits on phones are overrated, since they make the phone heavier, and seem to damage more easily than plastic. And I don't care much what my phone looks like...

    4. Lewis Mettler 1

      you betcha

      Touching an antenna will almost always affect its efficiency.

      I am sure many readers have taken to using tin foil to somehow improve their rabbit years of years gone by.

      The truth is that the more you play with antennas the more you realize that you have to do a lot of testing and even experimentation to maximize their utilization. And allowing users to put their sometimes grubby hands directly on the antenna has to be a 'no no'.

      Even wearing gloves or using a case may not solve the problem completely. Any conductive material near the antenna can throw it off. And it might improve it too. There are many external devices that might improve the ability of an built-in antenna to function reliably. And some have degrade it to.

      Clearly the Apple engineers designing the antenna were on vacation or perhaps drugs instead of doing their work, testing and some basic R&D.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Screen protectors are not a luxury

    If I buy anything with a touch screen, the very next place to visit is the internet's favourite tat market, eBay, for some screen protectors!

    Even my little one's Nintendo DS has screen protectors on both screens. My PSP, my naff LG 520, especially my Missus' iPhone!

    1. Mr Brush

      Screen protectors are fud designed to extract money through fear.

      Capactive touch screens don't like extra layers of junk between them and the user, it reduces sensitivity. Plus, they look like cack when they inevitably start to peel and get dirt underneath.

      My Hero is six months old, has always gone naked and there isn't the slightest hint of scratching on the screen.

      If something hits the screen hard enough to scratch it, a <1mm layer of plastic won't do much to stop it.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        My Hero has had a screen protector since day 1 (as all my phones do - it helps to have a mint screen when you come to sell them on ebay 18 months later!). It hasn't had the slightest affect on the sensitivity of the screen but the protector is now sporting quite a few scratches and scuffs...

        1. Si 1

          Screen protectors are FUD

          A screen protector will easily sport scratches and scuffs, it's a piece of plastic/cellophane.

          The iPhone (and presumably other smart phones) have toughened glass screens and it's much harder to scratch them. I'm sure if you stick the phone next to your keys the glass will scratch, but in general the glass is very tough and it takes a lot to damage it. My iPhone 3G is nearly 2 years old now and there's not a single scratch on the screen and it's never had a screen protector on it.

          The only thing that scratches on an iPhone is the plastic back, which hopefully will no longer be the case now that they've changed it to glass.

      2. mego

        The title is too long.

        I beg to differ. My wife's scraped her 3Gs a few times, with the result of a few replacements of the nice filmy cover I got her for the phone when I bought it. I'd much rather replace a €5 screen cover than a new €200 iCrap

        1. Anonymous Coward

          which part of; plastic film scratches, glass doesn't!

          Are you failing to understand?

          Saying you have had to replace the plastic just makes you the gullible fool!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You go too far!

      Granted if you drive a sodding screwdriver into the screen there is a fair chance of if getting slightly scratched!!! Screen protectors are part of the package, if you look after the device in question carefully and don't go driving your keys into the screen, then it will have a slightly better sale value come upgrade time, not much I know, but better than nothing. Using protectors is just a way to stop general grit and dirt caught on fingers, from wrecking the screen in general daily use. If you use your iphone on a building site, then no amount of protection will save it and I quite agree, either don't bother with a protector or don't take it on site!

      There are some people out here who were brought up to value the things they have paid for and do their level best to look after their stuff, not even thinking about the green/planet resources angle, even if everyeone else thinks gadgets are just throwaway things that can be replaced on a whim.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I have never...

        I have never scratched a glass screen, I have never used screen protectors on a glass screen.

        If I were to use a shoddy plastic film on my hard glass I am certain it would be scratched regularly, would I believe that it had saved the Glass? NO I am not a gullible fool.

        Point is if you stick an easily scratchable surface to your phone it will get scratched! and a fool will think phew that was close. when everyone else is just fine with a stupidly hard glass screen and no scratches!

        Facts: Cornings Gorilla Glass is 20 times stiffer and 30 times Harder than the usually used transparent plastic. so to put it into stupidly easy to understand (but not scientific) terms you will scratch a plastic 20 times for every glass scratch. so how much do you pay for screen protectors? And the fact is, If a scratch is hard enough (remember 20 times harder than a scratch on plastic) to scratch glass, it is going to go right through a screen protector like it wasn't even there! AND Dont forget that is 20 times harder than a plastic screen which is initself again 20 times harder than soft vinyl screen 'protectors'.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Scratches are bunk

      I have a 4 yr old htc that has never had a screen protector and it has no scratches on the screen... it's been dropped on rocks, shared a pocket with keys and all sorts of other sharp objects and I've used all sorts of objects (including ball point pens) as a stylus.

      Smartphone screens are incredibly hard to scratch - screen protectors on the other hand are piss easy to scratch

      1. Apocalypse Later

        The relevant word...

        ...may be "wife". Women are able to scratch things that men are not, by virtue of their diamond encrusted appendages. The inside of a car windscreen is one fairly common example.

    4. Aculeo

      Such passion...

      ...over something as fundamentally nothingy as a screen protector. Can you people relax and take a deep breath? Some people like to use screen protectors because they find them of some value. Others don't see the value so don't.

      Either way, I for one think I can cope. Buy em, don't buy em: if you're happily running an iPhone or anything vaguely like it, the price of screen protectors is nothing. even in the worst case, where they don't do a deal of good, they're hardly expensive enough to constitute FUD.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Strong signal vs congestion

    The iPhone has a new switching technique whereby it will select the band with the lowest congestion, not the one with the strongest signal. That might account for the drop in signal strength. It would be more interesting to see if the new iPhone drops more calls than the old one in the same area.

    Furtermore, Gizmodo might have a bit of an axe to grind, so I wouldn't take their word on this (or, indeed, any other matter).

    1. Brian Morrison
      Thumb Down

      What, you mean that....

      ....Apple have decided to ignore what the GSM and 3GPP specs say about how to behave when handing off between networks?

      How clever of them!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Of course you're not supposed to touch it...

    ... you smelly unwashed masses!

    You will worship it from afar or suitably encase it so that your grubby hands can't mar its beauty

  20. PDC
    Jobs Horns

    Top Tip

    VizTopTip: QUEUING for an iPhone? Don't stress about the reported manufacturing issues. They're nothing compared to your psychological ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      'nuff said

  21. djberriman

    Not just the iphone4

    Nothing new.

    I got an iphone 3GS and sent it back for exactly this reason (having visited an apple store and swopped it just in case it was just mine that was duf), losing two or 3 bars when you pick the device up, same when I tested a mates 3G. Vodas answer was a sure signal, which is no answer as you then have a non mobile mobile, and can't max out your broadband.

    A quick google search will confirm many similar cases, vodafone know about it and will admit it in the end, apple turn a deaf ear but are 'looking at it'.

    Losing 2 bars when you only have 2 or 3 means its useless, phone rings, pick up, hello, hmm no signal.

    Was hoping the new design fixed this issue. I guess they never do real world testing or only do it in full signal areas.

    Not just iphones either!

  22. Yves Kurisaki
    Jobs Halo

    The Register..

    ..where anti-Apple fanboys roam freely!

    1. blackworx

      Re: The Register

      As opposed to what? Everywhere else on the internet where they get tightly herded like the unthinking sheep they are? ODFO.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yves Kurisaki

      Discuss the SUBJECT MATTER or bugger off. Infantile tribal flame-posts (especially more than one on the same board) just irritate people and achieve nothing for your cause, which apparently is tossing Steve Jobs' salad w/ reacharound.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        RE: Yves Kurisaki

        "Discuss the SUBJECT MATTER or bugger off. Infantile tribal flame-posts (especially more than one on the same board) just irritate people and achieve nothing for your cause"

        If only El Reg could post that at the top of each comment page.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @Yves Kurisaki

      You couldn't be more wrong.

      The Register's beloved commenttards are most emphatically not anti-apple. They are anti everything. El Reg, and those who read her are equal opportunity cynics.

      Speaking of cynicism...who do you work for, and are they connected to Apple? I would expect if you weren’t new here you would know all of the above by now…

  23. Drew Scott

    iPhone 4...

    Could not replicate.

  24. Handle already taken
    Thumb Down

    Design Fail....

    Just done some testing myself on this. I'm currently sat in a poor Orange signal area with 3 bars.

    Hold the phone across the left and right of the screen and all is OK, but extend my little finger down to the bottom section of the phone (around the connector area) so my hand is touching all 3 areas around the phone and the signal disappears... Holding just the left or right with the bottom area is fine

    Anybody else able to verify?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Yellow streaks down your iPhone 4's screen?

    That'll be Apples new Urethra display(TM).

    1. Captain Save-a-ho

      Not a Urethra display

      That will be iUrethra, thank you very much.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        another totle

        ...Or indeed, iPss

      2. LinkOfHyrule
        Jobs Horns


        Cystitis? There's an app for that!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Nuff Said

    Whats the problem? Got mine this morning, looks the dogs, if I actually want to "speak" to someone I will use my Nokia 2323.

    Paris cos sticking Diamonds all over it won't help the signal strength...

    Thumb Down

    iphone 4 issues

    so the first issue of signal problems when holding it its new i must say i ant gonna bother with a iphone im not given my money to jobs end of iphone is just a play flash toy oh look at me i have a iphone with a bitten logo on it. and yet when thease problems are discovered apple fanboys egnore it because they dont like to hear the truth.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Say wha'?

      I see that James Joyce lives!

  28. James Whale

    Just don't use it left-handed...

    ccording to Engadget, it's touching the bottom left-hand corner (where the GPS/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi antenna meets the GSM antenna) that causes the problem:

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      @Just don't use it left-handed...

      Easier said than done if you're not left handed.

      Steve would no doubt say "it's not that big a deal" in one of his pithy e-mails before advising the sender that they re-train themselves to be right-handed.

      Whereupon the sender could write back and advise that he re-trains his engineers so they know how to mount antennas in the phone chassis instead of making shiny screens, or if that's too complicated then hire some engineers from Nokia or HTC instead of getting his own to read and fail to understand their patents.

  29. Steen Hive


    Steve: "Let's make the case part of the antenna!"

    Drone: "Yes, my sire"

    R&D Drone "Your worship, putting the stinking great capacitor that is the user in contact with the antenna is a bad idea"

    Steve "No big deal. Everyone knows Apple users have very little capacity for anything."

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Antenna

      Completing the sketch...

      Steve: "Said with my iMouth."

  30. Andrew Penfold

    1 Unread Message...

    Change your sweats chemical composition.

    Not that big of a deal.



    Sent from my iPhone

  31. DelM

    Proves Steve isn't from this planet

    I think it's obvious that iPhone users with iron in their blood will cause signal problems as they wrap their little Faraday-cage digits about the case-tenna. Copper, however, doesn't introduce quite the same affect, and as such I offer this proves that SJ is actually Vulcan or Romulan. Or something else.

    "Zed, we have a bug..."

  32. Neil McLeod

    Problem sorta solved?

    Use yr iPhone 4 with the supplied earbuds/mic?

    No aerial degrade, no scratchy/fingered surfaces and good fone quality too.

    Works for me.

  33. David McMahon
    Jobs Halo

    Nothing to see here

    OMG! Apple products are the best!!!!!

    Steve Jobs owns it so must be good, however pleased to repirt that the iPhone 5 will have a much improved range! :)

    Love from Apple fanboi #309587 (i.e the ignorant public)

    The video was made by Nokia, Commandant Jobs will be creating a fair rule in the USA and promptly be renamed the U.S.S.A (Union of Soviet States of America)

    Oh just thought of another joke! Whats worse than finding an antenna in an apple? Finding half an antenna in a Apple! :)

  34. CADmonkey
    Jobs Horns

    It's a stitch up..

    You need that iGlove thing with the one conductive fingertip

  35. John 104

    Case Cover Up

    I think that what has happened is that they discovered this design flaw after it was too late to change production tooling. As a workaround, they offer this nifty bump case as an accessory in order to mask the problem.

    That being said, it amazes me that engineers could be so idiotic as to not know basic antenna and conductivity principals.

  36. Matt Hawkins
    Jobs Horns

    Apple Bristol Chart Roadmap

    If you want details of the iPhone development road map just consult the "Bristol Chart".

    It has been spot on so far.

    Personally I don't fancy buying a Type 4. Each to their own.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cell breathing

    Can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but 3G cells kick out a lower radius when they are under load (aka cell breathing) to theoretically allow other less congested sites to pick up the slack.

    Since 3G sites don't come cheap, there aren't always enough around to double up and provide this backup coverage/capacity and so signals can drop to zero. 2G doesn't do this so variations in signal there are more often atmospheric or vegetation related.

    It sounds like the iPhone4 may have some antennae issues (but not having held one myself I couldn't confirm) but this does explain a lot of people's complaints about other handsets; any network seeing heavy data use (especially likely on iPhone launch day) will have some seriously variable 3G signal levels for anyone not close enough to the mast - cell breathing can reduce coverage by at least 30% radius ...

  38. Anonymous Coward


    I couldn't get the video to play here but can someone answer me this:

    If you've got a finger over the bottom of the phone - how can you speak into the microphone to ahve a conversation anyway?

  39. Anonymous Coward

    Big Deal

    Both my first Nokia phone and one of my Motorola phones had similar problems.

    Solution - hold the phone at a slightly different angle.


    1. RichyS
      Thumb Up

      Same here

      My old SE w910 would lose signal if I touched the top with my finger.

      Having worked as a lab assistant for a company designing and manufacturing military antenna (during my Gap year -- woo hoo!), I can confirm the fairly hit'n'miss process of tuning an antenna using various capacitors and resistors. You could get most of the way there using science, the last bit was really a black art!

      Antennas do weird stuff. Some people are more capacitive (and resistive) than others. YMMV.

  40. Tron Bronze badge

    Well really.

    If you buy Apple kit for the functionality rather than the style, then you are so missing the point. And if you complain about the cost, you should be asking yourself whether you really deserve to be an Apple user.

    If your screen touches are causing signal strength issues, then you most likely haven't got the right sort of fingers and are unlikely to be invited to the better parties when word gets out.

    Your screen will discolour if you use generic wipes. This is a security feature not an issue. Get some proper Apple wipes, the version 4 ones of course, colour co-ordinated, with the Apple logo ($49/£49 for ten). Remember you can't flush them down the toilet or throw them in the bin after use.

    And don't forget, should you use your iPhone to arrange an extra-marital assignation, you are breaching your EULA. Because Apple cares.

    Of course you could just save yourself a fortune and get a £20 PAYG phone.

  41. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Any one know...

    where I can get a mobile phone?

  42. pan2008

    my body as antenna

    To the Antenna guy who knows more than the other Antenna guy. If my body acts as an antenna with the new iphone is that not little bit worrying? We have enough electromagnetic signals anyway, not sure if I want to receive calls with my body acting as the antenna (not expert with antennas but sounds bad).

    Has anyone listened to speakers or other electronic devices when a phone is about to receive a call or receiving data? It doesn't sound very healthy.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: my body as antenna

      You might want to go and read some ZOMG MOBILES CAUSE BRAIN CANCER fud site instead of the Reg.

  43. Dana W

    That decides it. Serious Apple fan NOT buying Gen 4.

    I've looked at it. My old 3GS is fine, lit has lots of life left. And this new phone has more issues than I want to deal with and I'm tired of ponying out for new cases for the Glass Primadonna.

    I was going to get a new one but I'm going to wait for my AT&T contract to expire, and my next phone will probably be a Blackberry since they seem dedicated to providing solid, licensed OSX/iTunes synch. "unlike what Palm was doing' OR maybe by then the Android market will have standard Mac synch support.

    I Love my Macbook Pro, my 160 gig ipod is my constant companion. But another fussy, fragile trendy phone that takes surgery to replace a simple battery....... I found myself thinking of standing in like like a fool and stressing over it. No, not going to happen. No. This isn't what I want Steve, not at all.

  44. LinkOfHyrule


    Reality check - its just another Foxconn sweatshop made disposable. Yes, its more desirable than most (well to some people at least) but it's still just a piece of overpriced crap like everything else! It's not magical! Unless you count the amazing disappearing signal as magic of course!

  45. Grubby

    What is iPhone

    iPhone is thin

    iPhone is shiny

    iPhone is a million apps in the palm of your hand... just apps

    iPhone is a phone... on the table

    At least you'll never hit your data cap :)

  46. Parax
    Dead Vulture

    dear Register

    I am hugely disappointed that you are yet to refer to generic iPhone and iPad devices by a combined but appropriate moniker of iPhad.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Software issue

    Its just a software bug. apple forgot to uncomment "if (antenna = touched) bardisplay += 3"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Another bug I think

      if (antenna = touched) bardisplay = 3

      Otherwise pretty soon you'd have filled the screen with bars.

  48. Nordrick Framelhammer

    Yet another reason not to buy Apple crap

    The phone you can't use as a phone. Brilliant idea there,. Steviepoos.

  49. Anonymous Coward



  50. Stuart Combellack

    Yep - I saw the same thing with my own eyes.

    A colleague has a new iPhone 4. He brought it in today pleased as punch. I held it in my hand and it went from 4/5 bars of signal to "No Service" in a few seconds.

    Epic Fail, Apple.

    Software fix? I'm not sure, looks like a hardware problem when your hand bridges the antennas.

  51. Alex Bailey

    It's not just the 4G!!!

    Funny, my 3GS does this too (I just tried it!) as did my last 3 Nokias (since they removed the external antenna!)

    I sometimes daydream of the days when phones had a plug for an external antenna in the car so I could actually have an unbroken conversation (using a hands free kit, of course!)

  52. JakeyC
    Jobs Horns

    Quote from BBC News

    "The problem is thought to be particularly acute for left-handed owners who naturally touch the phone in the sensitive area."

    Dirty, dirty lefties. If you will insist on inappropriate touching, you don't deserve a phone signal.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns



    It's better, It's faster

    It's awesome,

    Its has really nice graphics,

    it's ... not working!

    Can I borrow someone's phone?

  54. Barney Carroll

    A very interesting article from an antenna design blog explains

    My boss saw me reading this and forwarded me the following:

    There's a good brief history of mobile antenna design in there. Basically, FCC safety requirements mean antenna positioning is in the least effective position — away from your brain, at the bottom, where any humanoid user's hand will be.

    Hands-free, MyFi router? Surely what everyone wants anyway (short of a telescopically extensible antenna)?

  55. Yesnomaybe
    Thumb Down


    Just stick a little bit of gaffa-tape around the edge, bit unsightly, but hey, it works, and that's the main thing, isn't it? ....?...... It isn't???


    Back to the drawing-board then.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WWDC: Steve Jobs' iPhone 4 launch glitches

    Looks like apple have known for a while...

  57. Phillip Baker

    Killer app

    "the killer application for a mobile phone remains the ability to make phone calls, and it seems possible that in all the excitement Apple has forgotten that."

    Please. Apple threw THAT design requirement out of the window with the first version of the iPhone.

    "iPhone bad at being a phone shocker, more at 11"?

    I experience probably a 50% or higher failure rate in calling most of my colleagues who have 3GS model or earlier, even if they have full signal and are sat on a desk unmolested. They're just not good phones. Fantastic dicking around gadgets, games, apps, and whatnot, and good for data when the data works (equal parts o2 overload and handset fail there), but if you actually place any value on making and receiving calls, get yourself an old Nokia (by which I mean pre-smartphone era, or some of their new 'budget' handsets). You'll get a week's worth of standby and it'll work for months without needing a reboot.

    After that, if you need or desire (aha) smartphone functionality, an HTC Desire, provided you don't mind being tethered to a charger most of your time.

    If phone calls are of no significance to you, then by all means get yourself an iPhone, but don't pretend that this is a new phenomenon. Even WinMo devices are better (and I hated my WinMo by the time I ditched it early for my Desire).

  58. danielm

    Just tested mine, and a few others...

    After reading this, I tested my iPhone 3G. It does the same. Then I tested the HTC Legend I use for work. It does the same. Picked up my iPhone 4 from TNT - yup, it does it. Tried an old Sony Ericsson W880i, yup, signal drop. All of this was on Vodafone UK.

    The signal drop on the 4 doesn't seem to be affected by just touching specific bits of the metal casing. It only happens when your hand is wrapped around it.

    Saying that, none of them have lost signal totally - they just drop to 1 bar at worst. I'd say this is possibly exacerbated in the US by the AT&T network, with its poor reputation.

    I'll admit that it's a bit easier to hold the 4 in a way that makes it lose signal, although even when it goes down to 1 bar, it doesn't seem to affect net access or call quality.

  59. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    "A deliberate plan by Apple seems a stretch to us, but it's hard to see how such a widespread problem got missed during development."

    Probably didn't get missed. I've heard several seperate anecdotes where Jobs has decided EXACTLY how he wants some product to look (including where some major components fit in), sound, etc., and will not compromise a bit for engineering realities. I've heard of at least two Mac designs were a problem came up during development (it needed a quiet, temperature controlled fan, or 1/4" more space for cramming in all the parts, or whatever), an engineer tells Jobs this and he is just "Hell no, make it work". So result? Engineers do lots of extra work and do get it to work, but result is a mac that ran boiling hot straight from the factory, or is almost impossible to work on due to the parts being shoehorned in, or whatever. (Before fanbois flame, most models weren't like this, but a few definitely have been). I would guess an engineer knew the band antenna was crap, but by then Jobs insisted on a metal band antenna.

  60. gruffrey

    Not so simple

    Just tried a blokes iphone 4 in a poor reception area with no problem. No matter how I tried could not get it to drop bars. Sweaty hands, dry hands, touching all three segments, two segments, cupping it etc... This is not a simple design flaw that effects all phones. Going to make it very hard to fix.

  61. Musophil

    iPatch for the iPhone4

    A friend of mine just bought an iPhone 4 and I can confirm, to the hilarity of our group of friends, that his has this problem. :-D

    After a certain amount of ribbing he came up with a cheap and elegant solution, and has set up a website selling it for anyone in the UK that wants to "fix" their iPhone 4. 8-)

    Basically he's not making any profit on it, he's just covering the cost of materials and postage but he just showed me it and it actually works!

    He's basically designed a made-to-fit sticker to cover the metal up to insulate it from your hand, and is making it out of signwriter/vehicle-graphic-quality vinyl, so it won't leave nasty sticky gunk on your shiny new iPhone4 the way normal tape would.

    The link is if links are allowed, or you can search for ipatch4 on google if this gets edited.

    Well, he shut us all up, and so I thought I'd share. :-)

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