back to article Fanbois end Judas Phone 'Death Grip' with, um, SIM tape

Some iPhone 4 buyers have solved the handset's infamous "Death Grip" reception problems by taping, cutting, shaving, or re-seating its SIM card. Considering third-party examinations of the reception issues by the likes of Anandtech and Consumer Reports, such fixes don't quite stand up to logic, and many users claim the fixes …


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  1. Sly

    Apple shoots self in foot

    "What we're seeing is a combination of your hand bridging the WiFi and UMTS antennas as well as interference caused by your hand covering the most sensitive part of the cellular antenna in the lower left corner of the phone," Shimpi tells us.

    gee... the most sensitive part is in the most covered area of the phone. Just brilliant.

    Every phone I've ever had put the antenna on the top portion of the phone if not actually sticking out the top of the phone. That's definitely a design flaw if ever I've seen one.

    Where's my rotting Apple icon?.. guess FAIL works.

    1. Brian 62

      Not a recent phone

      If you've only ever had phones with antenna on the top, you've got some pretty old phones. Almost all antennas have been moved to the bottom of the phone for a while now because your head would block a lot of the signal if it were on top. Also, your head will absorb the radiation, and FCC rules (USA) specifically test for this. Moving the antenna to the bottom, as almost all modern phones have done, help to reduce this problem.

      The main problem is that the antenna is directly exposed to human contact. Most other phones have it hidden behind some plastic, which insulates it from changing electrical characteristics.

      1. Joel 1

        Revenge or comeuppance?

        The tinfoil hat brigade have been banging on for ages about the dangers of mobile phone radiation. The FCC have been carried along with this so that they measure the SAR levels of a phone with a detector at the position of the ear and put a limit of 1.6W/kg (the limit is 2W/kg in Europe). Both of these levels are arbitrary with little evidence to back them up.

        Surely the TFH brigade should now be trumpeting the benefits of the iPhone 4 as the signal is massively reduced due to the wonders of the design...

        Alternatively some of us would rather use phones...

        1. Pawel 1

          May I just remind you...

          that due to impedance differences between human head and air, circa 99% of radiation power at 1800 MHz is reflected at the border betweent the two, and a very similar amount at 900 MHz.

          It may be believable if someone claimed that mobile phone causes skin cancer (which, afaik, no-one does) as the exponentially decreasing component of EM radiation at this point might reach some skin cells, but all their other claims are not really physically feasible.

          Living just next to (and I mean literally 'next to' - not 100 meters from one) a macrocell phone mast is a slightly different matter because of larger powers involved, but still, not much evidence to confirm that either.

    2. The First Dave

      " covering the most sensitive part of the cellular antenna"

      What are they on about? For any antenna shape, size etc. the whole thing is important; there are no sweet spots on the wire itself, so top or bottom doesn't matter, only thing likely to have any effect is the ground plane, which can only be _improved_ with contact.

      1. Stoneshop

        You're not an antenna engineer

        No sweet spots? You're talking utter bollocks. Any tuned antenna's performance is affected by its loading, and the factor by which a load detunes the antenna depends its type (capacitive, resistive or inductive; in real-world situations a combination of all three) and on the position of said load with regard to the antenna feed point.

  2. Thomas Davie

    Left hand

    Could it be that when you hold it in your left hand, your middle finger rests on top of the metal sim tray? Could it then be that the issue is not bridging GSM to WiFi, but instead bridging the GSM arial onto the SIM itself...

    1. bart

      Where does your middle finger rest?

      Just thinking about Mr. Jobs' treatment of consumers should instruct many on where to put their middle finger . . .

    2. Wize


      You might be on to something there.

      I remember a problem with a few PCs many years back. They died after a few weeks usage.

      We had 22inch CRT monitors on top. After a while, the PC case would distort and a screw moved inside to short the motherboard out.

      The fix was some rubber washers to insulate this screw, which worked for many a long year.

      Could be what is causing the problem.

      Or they could have more than one flaw in their phones.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Apple really have fucked up this time.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Or simply shift the blame to the SIM makers!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It makes sense that the SIM shorting would cause a problem

    although I'm bemused as to how that problem would take the form of signal attenuation

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    The Fanboys are desperate now

    Trying absolutely anything to prove that their Lord and Master cannot possibly have released a poorly designed product. After all, everything Apple releases is perfect - until the next release when it suddenly isn't good enough anymore and they have to have the new one.

    Most normal people would have considered returning something they have bought and found faulty, and then after the kind of response Apple gave which is basically blaming the user would definitely have taken it back, demanded a refund and bought a product made by a different company.

    Not the Apple faithful though, they will take any shit as long as St Jobs tells them to and keep handing him all their cash.

    Can't help but wonder though - what will they do when he dies? Unlike every other big company, Steve Jobs IS Apple and he isn't going to be around forever. Guess they will have to find some other fanatic to follow who just wants to relieve them of cash at every opportunity so that they can go around believing they are better than other people. I hear scientology are always looking for new recruits.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge


      I understand there's a guy formerly from PepsiCo that might be able to handle it...

    2. Ammaross Danan

      It's the Users fault. Always is.

      Even with Windows, if you get a virus, it's your fault. It's not the shoddy software that allows virii to auto-install themselves just for visiting a webpage. PDF hacks must be the user's fault for letting javascript run in a PDF....or opening the file in the first place. Well, that's probably how Apple sees it anyway, going off the same line of "logic."

  6. Dan Paul

    Ever hear of a ground loop?

    These "fixes" could be related to an incorrect ground (Earth to you Brit's) path between the antenna and the SIM card. If there is an inadvertent electrical connection, much of the transmitted signal could easily be lost. A ground plane is used as a way to reflect the signal from an antenna and that ground plane is often part of the printed circuit board in a handheld electronic device. The SIM card

    There is also a capacitance issue involved in the transfer of energy from any antennae. Your body has a certain capacitance to it and obviously the presence of someones hand holding the "Jesus" phone changes the signal strength radiating from the antenna. Changing the electrical circuit path will affect capacitance, which affect signal strength. This is how the use of the rubber cover works to de-couple the human body from the Iphone case AND prevent the shorting of the antenna directly to case ground.

    I bet that Apple will actually do some real world antenna testing before they release another Iphone. Testing that involves someone holding the phone in their hand might be a refreshing change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @an incorrect ground (Earth to you Brit's)

      So you believe in that other Earth on the far side of the Sun?

      I see there's no "well, duh!" icon.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      Actually, we do say ground in the UK.

      Earth is a ground connection that is actually connected to the ground in the case of mains wiring for a safe exit route for misbehaving electricity.

      1. Wize

        We use either...

        ...except on a ship.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Misbehaving electricity the proper remedy for misbehaving electricity is to ground it....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Fanbois loose grip on reality

    Or were they pushed?

    I wouldn't put it past Apple to start a rumour like this just to distract the faithful.

  8. NX1977

    Blame the SIM?


    However does beg the question why Apple had to meddle with its size in the 1st place

    1. Pawel 1


      To prevent unlocking by means of TurboSIM and alike.

  9. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    How many iFlawd warrant a recall?

    The infamous iCrap 4 has a few problems:

    (1) Apple admits software defects;

    (2) The antenna is mechanically defective;

    (3) Picture are yellow tinted;

    (4) Batteries catch fires;

    (5) Connectors burn and melt;

    (6) Unbreakable glass breaks and scratches;

    (7) SIM shorts to carrier;

    (8) Yellow colouring on glass;

    (9) Green blob/spot on camera, in the centre;

    (10) Proximity detector cuts calls.

    Would 15 iFlaws be a reasonable number to trigger a recall?

    1. Doug Glass

      No ...

      ... following crucifixion comes resurrection, not recall.

    2. Darren Barratt

      8 and 3 are the same point.

      Desperate to get to 10 faults were you?

      1. JaitcH
        Jobs Horns

        Lemon colour for a lemon product?

        YOU are wrong.

        Many glass covers exhibited patches of yellow allegedly from the flue used to old the non-unbreakable glass.

        The OTHER lemon effect is the overall tint of images taken with iCrap 4,

        Total is still 10 with more awaiting discovery.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I for one..

 not welcome the return of the not so might morphin' Webster.

    3. Darren Barratt

      8 and 3 are the same point.

      Desperate to get to 10 were you?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: 8 and 3

        So Darren, you'd be happy to something that only has 9 manufacturing defects, but 10 is just way too many???

      2. Player_16


        ...just desperate.

      3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Only 10 faults?

        But I thought it went to 11?

    4. richard 69

      you are webster phreaky aren't you?

      how is amanfrommars these days?

      still dribbling in a corner?

    5. James 6

      10 Flaws?

      1) All software has bugs. Every phone I have ever owned has software bugs at least to begin with.

      2) This is a valid fault and a big one. Apple should at the very least send out bumper cases for free until they fix the hardware design.

      3) Not on my iPhone 4 or any of my friends (at least 5 units). Scattered reports suggest it may happen in some cases and Apple will replace affected units.

      4) I have not seen a single report of this. Citation?

      5) I have seen this story and no-one has actually said if this was a fault with phone, cable or PC it was connected to. And there is only 1 report of it happening so hardly a big issue.

      6) The screen is easier to damage than iPhone 3, but they don't scratch themselves so if it is looked after no problem.

      7) This is down to SIM card design not iPhone.

      8) Same as point 3.

      9) Not that I have seen in my iPhone 4 or on anyone else's I know who has one. I hadn't heard of this problem so Googled it and only found a single report. Did you Google 'iPhone faults' and just list every one that you found?

      10) Not had this problem myself but seen a lot of reports of it. Should be easy to fix with software update according to Apple.

      So yeah the iPhone4 does have some issues that it should not have been released with, but I think most of the 10 you list are frivolous. I'm not a fanboi by any means, but the haters are really going out of their way to tell everyone how crap the iPhone 4 is. Wouldn't it be simpler to just not buy one?

      It's a brand new product and experience tells me that the software bugs will be gone soon, and a redesign of the hardware will be close behind. The only thing that really annoys me is Apple's refusal to acknowledge the serious hardware fault when holding the phone in your left hand. They aren't fooling anyone by denying there is a hardware fault in the antenna and Apple have handled the fallout of the iPhone 4 fault poorly.

      1. Doshu

        One thing wrong here....

        I'm not going to add to the flaw/not-flaw debate, but i will say that this is NOT a "new product".

        It's the continuation of an existing line.

        Yes, a new generation of product is allowed it's debugging period -- that's only fair, it's like that for just 'bout everything -- but in this case there seem to some very major problems that previous experience should have helped avoid in the first place.

      2. JaitcH
        Jobs Horns

        Go Google, like I did

        Lemon version 4 is not a 'new' product; Version 1 was new. You expect manufacturers to use revisions to eliminate prior problems not increase them.

        An average person would not have any faith in the expression "according to Apple" as they have lied in the past. Apple should be doing a "Johnson and Johnson" (recall process) on this but they are simply hunkering down. The Apple antenna problem cannot be fixed with software.

        You acknowledge some faults and yet you find the product acceptable? Redesign of hardware - what about the millions of compromised units already in circulation: Is Apple going to send out a field replaceable case assembly?

        Please read: < >.

        The Apple lawyers are working overtime. Apple requests exemption from Freedom of Information requests < >; they are relying on the 'divide and conquer' method to stop people sharing information. It is only people with good resources (my employer subscribes to Reed Elsevier) and publications such as The Register, Gizmodo, Consumer Reports, Cryptome, etc. will out the news. Apple's, now censored, forum on antenna was available on MS Bing in cache format but these, too, are now deleted.

    6. BRYN

      I suggest somebody reads what they type before submitting

      The infamous iCrap 4 has a few problems:

      (1) Apple admits software defects;

      (2) The antenna is mechanically defective;

      (3) Picture are yellow tinted;

      (4) Batteries catch fires;

      (5) Connectors burn and melt;

      (6) Unbreakable glass breaks and scratches;

      (7) SIM shorts to carrier;

      (8) Yellow colouring on glass;

      (9) Green blob/spot on camera, in the centre;

      (10) Proximity detector cuts calls.

      Points 3 and 8 aere the same thing which cures itself once the bonding agent evaporates.

      Point 2 The antennas work perfectly and have been proven to do so, the fault is with the positioning of them which allows them to be shorted out.

      Point 4 Battery fires where has this been reported?

      Point 5, 1 reported cable connectore fault, out of a few million doesn't warrant a recall

      Point 6 Show me where they have advertised the screen as unbreakable? Theres 1000's of security companies would be please to know about this new technology.

      Point 7 Sim's only short to sium holder when people have trimmed a full size sim down to fit.

      Point 9 Never seen a report on the green blob thays not to dissmiss it without merit, but merely noticing the fact that even the slightness thing Apple related gets reported on here it seems funny thats never been mentioned.

      Point 10 Proximity sensor yes has a fault, its a little sensitive, a software patch will fix it.

      You sir seem to be a troll.

      Apple has its faults the Iphone4 has some problems many of them recognised and addressed by Steve Jobbie, To be honest when i worked in the mobile phone industry I heard many of the same complaints levelled and SE, RIM and Nokia. And many more, mostly alot more severe.

    7. JaitcH
      Jobs Horns

      Lemon 11

      The ELEVENTH reported defect on the Lemon phone is BLUETOOTH.

      Numerous complaints are being posted on Apple about muffled outgoing speech using Bluetooth. < > Read it before Apple deletes it.

      Only four defect slots left!

  10. David Pickering

    doubt they'll recall

    remember the outcry about hardware accelerated graphics on the htc tytn2? same sort of thing and they got away with it..

    suprised this antenna issue got through qa though..

    is crapple hitting the fan?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'm not. I Notice that on the phone that turned up a few months ago, they had hidden new one inside the case of an old one (Much larger), so i suspect the antenna issue didnt crop at all in testing.

  11. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Smith & Jones already described this solution

  12. Martin Usher

    But they do a nice display....

    The neat thing about the software fix is that it really summed up the non-prettystuff engineering in this unit -- "never mind the functionality, look at all those pretty pictures". Apple have been able to steal a march on the other manufacturers because they sell a second-rate phone disguised as a first-rank hand-held computer, and people tend to overlook the shortcomings provided the unit "more or less" works. The more traditional phone manufacturers have a lot of investment in the phone engineering so we've come to expect that "it just works", even if the UI sucks somewhat. Now the phone boys know what consumers want they'll just buy and interface.

    Apple should have bought a phone company....

  13. Eddy Ito


    My patent !pending solution can be yours for under 2 bucks.

    Hell, you can even get different colors, perhaps at a greater cost, so your iPhone 4 can feel pretty and you can change the color to reflect your mood. It is beyond me why I've never seen it mentioned although I've seen calls for recalls that essentially ask for the same thing. I've used nail polish on circuit boards to prevent shorts on knock-ups in the past so I don't see why it wouldn't work on an iPhone.

    Now then, I'm late for Beer-thirty appointment. Oh, you might want to avoid copper colored polish or anything with metal flakes for that matter.

    1. Martin Lyne

      Having to paint something for it to work as advertised

      is retardtastical.

      Apple phones suck, Windows phones suck, Nokias suck. Android is all that's left if you want a semi-smart phone.

      1. Neill Mitchell


        You are away from a plug for 24 hours. Even with light use, the battery life of Android phone is a joke.

        My E72 runs for at least 5 days.

        1. T-Unit

          Android is not a phone

          It is an OS which runs on many different phones with many different batteries, the life of which varies greatly. You cannot simply say that 'android phones' have poor battery. My Nexus One lasts 2 days with moderate use, for example.

      2. Doshu

        I agree in principle...

        ... that a product you've just purchased should not require you to gussy it up like a cheap whore for it to work.

        That being said, i still think it's an ingenious idea.

      3. Eddy Ito

        You're absolutely right Martin

        Your fix is far superior even if it does cost another few hundred dollars. Oh, I've thoughtfully provided the icon you obviously forgot.

      4. Stoneshop

        AHS, ASS

        All hardware sucks, all software sucks. There's nothing that's non-sucky, with just a small amount of stuff that has a bearable suck-level. And with greater integration of functions the suckiness increases exponentially.

        I believe the average rotary desk phone to be the last of the non-sucky telecoms devices (that's obviously excluding telco cockups).

  14. lucmars

    The solution

    You're seeing the connection level dropping, well it's simple to solve that : just take your iPlode on the other side and then you can notice anything since you don't see the screen anymore.

    Is it not so simple as Apple is? I don't understand why the Kid don't recommend this workaround?

    (some pixels fail on your Macbook's lid, well, just close the lid)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serves apple right...

    ... for insisting on that obviously-too-small micro SIM format.

  16. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    As always, the answer is ...

    ... duct tape.

    1. T-Unit

      You know what they say?

      If it can't be duck'd, then it's really... beyond repair

  17. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    ISO 7816 Pinout

    Did no one think to look at the SIM card footprint ?

    The top two pads as shown in the article photo are VCC / +V (left) and GND / 0V (right) so if there is a short to the socket that could be a +V to 0V short which would likely cause huge problems; whether +V is direct to battery / internal PSU or to a controller pin delivering power only when needed.

  18. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    They should try demagnetizing

    Always worked with vinyl records and CDs and stuff...

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Has no-one tried reversing the polarity yet??

  19. Anonymous Coward

    New Fault..

    Well if you ask me the sim shorting on the carrier is just another fault for the list.. whether it helps with the antenna issue or not, it should not happen. but obviously I'm just an iHater so feel free to ignore^H flame me. So there is obviously nothing wrong with the phone cos it still looks great and costs a lot!

  20. uhuznaa


    The only difference I can see between an iPhone with an Apple or third-party case applied and a "regular" plastic phone with an internal antenna is that I can optionally remove or replace the case on the iPhone while the plastic casing on the other phone is fixed to it forever.

    I think the proximity sensor issue is worse.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    It just works. NOT.

    It just works .... with a considerable bit of fking about.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Aw give over!

      "Where do you want to go today?"

      Back to the shop for a refund on WIndows 7 for XP? Well you can't 'cos we couldn't give a toss if it doesn't work on your sad old hardware! LOL!

      "Free to download and free to use!"

      Free to waste a whole day installing it only to find out your hardware isn't actually supported, but you only found after spending 3 hours on the free forums with the freetards berating you 'cos you don't understand the free O/S yet!

      "Android is the answer!"

      I know iPhone is made by a nasty corp, all greedy and couldn't care less about the punters so I will go with Android. So remind me, who backs Android development again?

      See, it's easy to find fault with most things if you try....

  22. Gary Riches

    @Darren Barratt

    8 and 3 are not the same point. By pictures in 3 he means photos and by glass on 8 he means screen. Both have been documented.

    As it is I don't have any of the mentioned issues with mine.

  23. richard 69

    a simpler solution...

    walk into shop.

    plonk iphone (boxed) on desk.

    ask for money back.

    walk out.

    buy large stash of porn.

    have enjoyable few hours.

    1. James Hughes 1

      You BUY porn?

      Have you heard of the internet?

  24. tempemeaty

    Perhaps someone up high has dropped an Apple...

    Strange. This fall from paradise occurred right after the discovery their new user agreement showed us they intend to share your GPS locations with partners. Could this be a warning from other realms?

  25. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Does short-circuiting the SIM drop your call

    - without raising the "stupid antenna" question?

    By the way, to what extent, when you grip the antenna, do you BECOME the antenna?

    Was the point about other phones having an antenna in the base, to reduce the measured microwave power just next to the ear? Which I agree is not shown to be a meaningful hazard.

  26. Juan Inamillion

    @Marcus dubious

    <sigh> FFS...

    Lose - be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something).

    Loose - not firmly or tightly fixed in place.

    Any chance you'll learn the difference?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It just borks


  28. Andus McCoatover

    So. The Jesus Phone.. now cured by homeopathy.

    I'd have used smoke and mirrors myself, less time to prepare.

  29. Gil Grissum
    Jobs Horns


    At the very least, Apple should just publicly admit the design flaws and give away the damned rubber bumper as opposed to selling it to customers to correct an issue with a clearly and obviously faulty product. At the most, Apple should publicly admit to the product faults and issue a full recall. Slight of hand trickery isn't fooling the majority of the public on these design flaws. That quite simply is what they are. Design flaws. Customers shouldn't have to seek their own solutions to fix product design flaws. The company that made the products needs to deal with it, admit the faults, and fix the problem.

  30. Anne Tenna

    I made this

    I am collecting artwork if anyone has any.

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