iPhone 4 reception issues caused by left-handed use?

The iPhone 4 hasn't even been out for a day, and already, the complaints are rolling in. As Neowin reported yesterday, one of the issues involved the phone's cell reception and its degradation upon being held. What wasn't known at the time was why it happens, or how to continuously replicate the issue.

Insanely Great Mac has posted a video shedding light on the cause of the problem. It seems that Apple's new antenna technology is failing when the bottom left corner of the iPhone 4 is touched. In that corner, as you can see in the picture below, the two available antennas come close to meeting. When connected to each other by a person's hand (like when held in the left hand), some sort of interference occurs, causing the signal to degrade and eventually drop the call.

It's interesting to note that in the first video, even without the iPhone 4 being held, it seems that its reception is worse than that of the iPhone 3GS. The videos below show the reception issue in action. The second one is from Engadget who also ran their own test and found the same issue (phone was purchased today in the UK). No official response has been made by Apple at this time. However, it is important to note that not all iPhone 4 owners are reporting reception issues. Engadget has even made it clear that they could not replicate the issue on their pre-launch review unit.

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iPhone 4 not 4 leftys...Apple usual crap. Next generation of iPhone 4 will be just better...
Or maybe ileftPhone 4.... CRAPPY!!!

Hence the reason I never have and never will own a phone that tries to replace my PC. In efforts to do too much, they broke the primary function of the device, the ability to call people.

New devices do tend to have problems there is a lot of talk about the Evo phone problems.. i didnt experience any of those but at least i can hold it in my left hand and talk on it lol

I never realized I was holding my iPhone the wrong way. Thank you Steve Jobs for adding this new "feature" to the latest and "greatest" product ever created. Please come out with a product that tells me I'm talking wrong too.

iFAIL!!!!

I have to say, i'm not that much of an Apple fan, although i am very impressed with the new iPhone (great specs & such a beautiful looking device). But there's always bound to be issues with the first "batch" of new devices that get shipped out. I remeber when i first got my HD2 which came with an annying texting issue where i couldn't actually reply to a text without waiting half an hour first for the screen to respond to me tapping in the input area. That got resolved by HTC with a nice update and voila never had an issue since.

I'm sure that Apple are hard at work trying to provide a solution for this, hopefully it will be as simple as a firmware/software update for phones that have already been/currently being produced.

Another example of left-handed fail. Try buying a high quality left-handed mouse some time.... Are us lefties that worthless to big business?

chadlachlanross said,
Another example of left-handed fail. Try buying a high quality left-handed mouse some time.... Are us lefties that worthless to big business?

All of this left hand talk from everyone. I would argue that this affects righties more than lefties. As a right-hander, I would hold this in my left hand while manipulating the device with my right hand.

KenR7A said,

All of this left hand talk from everyone. I would argue that this affects righties more than lefties. As a right-hander, I would hold this in my left hand while manipulating the device with my right hand.

I have to agree with you. A lot of right hand people uses their left hand to hold the phone while trying to do something else, i.e. writing

t0628 said,

I have to agree with you. A lot of right hand people uses their left hand to hold the phone while trying to do something else, i.e. writing

As has been mentioned in a previous comment. If you can do something on the phone with just your thumb, it's likely that you are going to hold it in your right hand (Or left hand if you're a leftie), of course if what you're doing requires more than one finger or a better accuracy than what your thumb can offer, you are going to hold it in your off-hand and use your main to do the manipulation. Same deal when talking, you hold the phone in your off-hand which leaves your main hand available to do something else. As such, the issue will likely affect right-handed people a lot more than it does left-handed people.

It's horrible. This coming from a lefty here, too. But, remember the majority of people, including myself are protecting our double-sided glass investments with cases. Most of the cases wrap around the phone, covering the metal and back from damage. Hopefully the case insulates against contact and provides enough buffer to still work.

tomdavistoronto said,
It's horrible. This coming from a lefty here, too. But, remember the majority of people, including myself are protecting our double-sided glass investments with cases. Most of the cases wrap around the phone, covering the metal and back from damage. Hopefully the case insulates against contact and provides enough buffer to still work.

Right handed people usually hold the phone in their left hand when talking and also when needing to do something more than just flick their thumb across the screen so their right hand is free to maneuver the device. Lefties, on the other hand, I would assume hold it in their right hand.

Its a HARDWARE PROBLEM AND Those Who Purchased Must Admit the Reality


May Be Who Haven't bought this **** yet, might be lucky if apple fix this in new phones being developed?

Wow, this sounds like a rather serious issue... If this is accurate, I see no real way to fix this issue without a hardware redesign... You would think this would have been noticed in testing though...

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow, this sounds like a rather serious issue... If this is accurate, I see no real way to fix this issue without a hardware redesign... You would think this would have been noticed in testing though...

Exactly, I don't see any way software could fix a hardware-related problem of the placement of the antenna. This has gotta be one of the biggest flops in tech history

They already did. It's called the iPad. Just because Apple PR is spinning that e-turd as a "magical" device, doesn't mean it actually is.

i find many right handed people hold their phones using their left hand... so instead of saying that apple is discriminating against lefties, it should be said that they are screwing over a majority of the population

It's obviously a feature and one that Jobs probably requested. Rather than having to lie about going into a tunnel or whatever, you just hold the phone and in seconds your call drops

Hackersoft MS MVP said,
It's obviously a feature and one that Jobs probably requested. Rather than having to lie about going into a tunnel or whatever, you just hold the phone and in seconds your call drops

He needs to include the fake call feature as well... then you could fake call and fake drop yourself; Like if you were bored with a person, you fake call yourself, then that person though gets interesting, so you go, aaahhh call dropped, and continue talking.

morphen said,
OMG! They are discriminating the left-handed! Class action lawsuit!

Actually I hold my phone in my left hand a lot, and I'm right handed. If I'm using my right hand to control it (for anything other than what can be done with one thumb while in my right hand) I hold the phone in my left.

Stetson said,

Actually I hold my phone in my left hand a lot, and I'm right handed. If I'm using my right hand to control it (for anything other than what can be done with one thumb while in my right hand) I hold the phone in my left.

Im right handed and actually always use my left hand for anything phone related. It goes in my left pocket, and I swipe around with my right hand. This would be a total deal breaker on me for this phone, as my left hand and phone are connected as such lol.

morphen said,
OMG! They are discriminating the left-handed! Class action lawsuit!

People who are right-handed tend to hold their phone with their left hand. When using the touch screen you have more control with your right hand and you also want to keep your right hand free while on a phone call (for the most part).

I'm already trying to get use to holding the phone in my right-hand.... what a crap solution.

Shadrack said,

People who are right-handed tend to hold their phone with their left hand. When using the touch screen you have more control with your right hand and you also want to keep your right hand free while on a phone call (for the most part).

I'm already trying to get use to holding the phone in my right-hand.... what a crap solution.

You're doing it all wrong, you have to sit on your hand for like 5 minutes until it becomes numb.... We call this the stranger

shakey said,

You're doing it all wrong, you have to sit on your hand for like 5 minutes until it becomes numb.... We call this the stranger

OMG! LOL.

shakey said,

You're doing it all wrong, you have to sit on your hand for like 5 minutes until it becomes numb.... We call this the stranger

weeell, what if you do it the other way around? sit or whatever on your .... until it becomes numb... what do you call that?

morphen said,

weeell, what if you do it the other way around? sit or whatever on your .... until it becomes numb... what do you call that?

It's still called the stranger, except that the roles are reversed.

zeta_immersion said,
actually by getting that silicone skin for the new iPhone 4 it fixes the problem ....

Really going to be happy with your phone and a duct tape fix? Having to buy "extras" just so the basic thing a phone should do to work is probably the most killer bait n switch job ever. Props to you jobs, you do this and they still say its golden. Apple magic, its a phone that doesn't make calls lol.

I agree with you, then again, there are many things apple should have done with this phone, like no micro sim and expandable memory (besides 800$ without contract a ripoff ... should have been 500 and I would have bought one)

zeta_immersion said,
I agree with you, then again, there are many things apple should have done with this phone, like no micro sim and expandable memory (besides 800$ without contract a ripoff ... should have been 500 and I would have bought one)

Well, all that is for their "unified" system ( which they can kiss that down the drain soon if they keep up with different resolutions and specs ). The antenna is a whole different boat sinking that shouldn't have set sail.

shakey said,

Really going to be happy with your phone and a duct tape fix? Having to buy "extras" just so the basic thing a phone should do to work is probably the most killer bait n switch job ever. Props to you jobs, you do this and they still say its golden. Apple magic, its a phone that doesn't make calls lol.

It isn't that I don't disagree with you.... but did you see some of the drop videos? Just look at the iPhone 4. Unless the iPhone were to fall completely upright, it is more than likely going to land on one of the edges of the glass. Thats a terrible place for impact. I wasn't as worried with the 3GS because it had a lip. Any fall wouldn't be directly on the glass.

How small it is makes me worried about dropping it. I handed my 3GS to my dad the other day and butter-fingers dropped it right away. It was only a 2 foot drop onto carpet, but it still scared me. The iPhone 4 (IMO) is probably more "breakable" than its predecessors and should probably have SOME KIND of shock absorber installed around the edges. If the added benefit of that shock absorber is that this signal strength issue goes away then yay for me.

Now we know why the camera is so good. Since you wont be making calls with it, they had to give you something to do.

Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

Then don't give them page hits.

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

Seriously? There has been more than 1 post on Neowin going over the features of the iPhone 4. Your comment that Neowin only posts negative Apple news is extremely misguided.

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

I'm sure there was an article on its features when it was announced.

I find your insinuation funny, especially as the administrator who oversees the Neowin news is a big fan of the iPhone 4 and uses one as his phone.

Edited by Calum, Jun 24 2010, 10:48pm :

Shadrack said,

Seriously? There has been more than 1 post on Neowin going over the features of the iPhone 4. Your comment that Neowin only posts negative Apple news is extremely misguided.

What about the new Droid X.. where are all the front page articles, Neowin is biased to android!!! Na, they just post what will bring people in. Wish they would do more post about other brands, and but sadly they will front page that which brings in the viewers, and you can't down them for it.

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

I can personally state that we do cover lots of Apple highlights, right at the pre-WWDC announcement, and during the WWDC announcement. We covered all the highlights, including the iOS 4.0 rebranding, features and release date, including the iPhone 4 hardware specs. We posted the leak of the iPhone 4, including a story today about the device being release.

I think Neowin does a great job in covering things from Apple.

As for the Android stuff, I personally know that Benjamin (Author of this piece) uses an EVO phone, running Android. So he is always covering Android updates and features. I personally have covered Android stuff in the past, including the Google I/O announcement back in May.

shakey said,

What about the new Droid X.. where are all the front page articles, Neowin is biased to android!!! Na, they just post what will bring people in. Wish they would do more post about other brands, and but sadly they will front page that which brings in the viewers, and you can't down them for it.

News is news, and we report what we think is informative to our readers. Informative to our community = these page hits you're talking about. It's all for the community.

Brian said,

News is news, and we report what we think is informative to our readers. Informative to our community = these page hits you're talking about. It's all for the community.

I'm totally on y'alls side. I'd do it as well. It's the news we apparently want lol. But I have read many articles on other sites I wouldn't mind seeing hit Neowin sometimes. But this is still my #1 site for the tech news and such. But whether is fud or jollies, you report it and we comment

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!
Neowin is the best ntech news site around. They have the most unbiased news out of all the sites. They even take action when they hire reporters that are biased.

Android users are too busy slating iPhone users to actually read articles about Android

Neowin can't cover every Android phone released, theres just too many of them.
Should the Droid X be reported?, Maybe as it will be popular, but it's only been 6 months since the first Droid was released in the UK.
Perhaps we could start more threads in the Mobile Devices section, the HTC Desire thread was a great success (although its in the reviews area).

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

Ok apple nut. Go read the same news on macrumors.

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

You're kidding right? We have multiple articles on new features.

crazyfish said,
Neowin is constantly reporting bad news about Apple products.. never anything positive. Their titles always exaggerate the truth. Where's the article on all the new features?? It's like reading the Enquiror. Lame!

You obviously don't come here very often and/or have a very selective memory. Almost every single article on Neowin has been a pure parroting of Apple spin/propaganda/PR for years now.

This is the first Apple critical article I have seen in ages here, and it's about something as cut and dry as a software and/or hardware bug.

manosdoc said,
How much this junk costs ?

Its all about perception. It might be junk for you, but is the trend setter. That is evident from the various smartphones on the market trying to beat the iPhone. Ooh..it costs $199/$299 for 16/32GB with a contract. And i have the 32GB and i am fine with it. No problems what so ever. People who cannot tolerate minor issues should not consider buying electronics because all electronic products have flaws. Some are blown out of proportion while some are not. BTW, i am not an apple fan, but i don't mind spending on superior products and can tolerate flaws.

spenumatsa said,

Its all about perception. It might be junk for you, but is the trend setter. That is evident from the various smartphones on the market trying to beat the iPhone. Ooh..it costs $199/$299 for 16/32GB with a contract. And i have the 32GB and i am fine with it. No problems what so ever. People who cannot tolerate minor issues should not consider buying electronics because all electronic products have flaws. Some are blown out of proportion while some are not. BTW, i am not an apple fan, but i don't mind spending on superior products and can tolerate flaws.


i wonder how a not working phone will be a trend setter.

you have an amazing mind, when you die, donate it to science.

I wonder how Apple will respond. Those who can be bothered (and probably have the right), can request a replacement under Warranty. If I'm not mistaken, this is a manufacturers fault right.

emzino said,
I wonder how Apple will respond. Those who can be bothered (and probably have the right), can request a replacement under Warranty. If I'm not mistaken, this is a manufacturers fault right.

I'm wondering too.

I noticed the problem right away when I started using the iPhone 4. It is a big enough deal for me that if Apple does not respond to this in a satisfactory way I will be returning my iPhone 4. This is beyond "oversight". This is engineering negligence. Apple had to know about this issue before hand but went ahead with production in order to meet their self-imposed deadline.

Shadrack said,

I'm wondering too.

I noticed the problem right away when I started using the iPhone 4. It is a big enough deal for me that if Apple does not respond to this in a satisfactory way I will be returning my iPhone 4. This is beyond "oversight". This is engineering negligence. Apple had to know about this issue before hand but went ahead with production in order to meet their self-imposed deadline.

It is also likely that it was unknown. As it is a rather big issue, I kind of doubt someone in their right mind said: "Go ahead and release anyway." If the issue can't be solved via a software update, there is a high possibility that Apple will have to do a recall on all Iphone 4Gs and then give customers replacements. That's not exactly cost-effective as it would put manufacturing back quite a nice bit.

What's weird for me is that even though my phone shows 0 bars - it appears to have full signal (can make/receive calls and gets about 2mbps down on 3g).

bmaher said,
What's weird for me is that even though my phone shows 0 bars - it appears to have full signal (can make/receive calls and gets about 2mbps down on 3g).

Yeah it seems to be a software a problem with iOS4, as some people seem to be reproducing it on 3G(S)s too.

bmaher said,
What's weird for me is that even though my phone shows 0 bars - it appears to have full signal (can make/receive calls and gets about 2mbps down on 3g).

iPhone 4's get dropped calls when you hold it left handed. It's been proven in videos from Engadget and other tech websites.

Word is that the bars issue is just software, in that it is showing 0 bars when it should be showing 1 or 2. Easy fix.

The antenna reception issue...no word on that and it could be a much more sticky wicket.

I can reproduce this on my iPhone 3G running iOS 4... sort of. If I cover the back of the phone with my skin the signal drops right out. Now I know that is not something you would do in normal use day to day. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen in iOS 3.

kraized said,
I can reproduce this on my iPhone 3G running iOS 4... sort of. If I cover the back of the phone with my skin the signal drops right out. Now I know that is not something you would do in normal use day to day. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen in iOS 3.

I can reproduce this on my 3G also - seems like an odd problem that hopefully as simply software fix can resolve.

kraized said,
I can reproduce this on my iPhone 3G running iOS 4... sort of. If I cover the back of the phone with my skin the signal drops right out. Now I know that is not something you would do in normal use day to day. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen in iOS 3.

Yet, cover your entire hands over any other phone, and the signal won't drop out. Worst that happens is you loose one out of 5 bars.

kraized said,
I can reproduce this on my iPhone 3G running iOS 4... sort of. If I cover the back of the phone with my skin the signal drops right out. Now I know that is not something you would do in normal use day to day. I'm pretty sure it didn't happen in iOS 3.

Considering the issue appeared in Iphone 3G and 3GS after the software update, I would assume that it is a software issue with those two phones, rather than a hardware one. Can't be certain about that when it comes to the 4G, but eh... we'll either see a patch coming out soon or one of the biggest cell phone recalls in history.

EDIT: Make that THE biggest cell phone recall in history.