iPhone 4 Reception Loss: Antenna Design Flaw At Fault?
Cupertino, we have a problem.
Steve Jobs has boasted of the iPhone 4's antenna being "the most precise thing we've ever made." He said that no one has ever used an antenna like this before. Ars Technica calls the iPhone 4 antenna "a work of genius."
Perhaps there is a reason no one has used an antenna like this before: it doesn't work properly when a human hand is in contact with it.
As detailed by Gizmodo, the iPhone 4 loses reception when the antenna is held by the hand. This does not appear to be a "software bug" or "glitch"; it is a fundamental design issue. After all, as we learned in science class, the human body is 70% water; water conducts electricity. As such, a 70% water physical object - the human body - can affect an electronic signal. Indeed, the reception of older TVs could be improved if a human being was touching the antenna in one place.
That, however, is the issue: in one place. The human hand naturally holds the iPhone's sides, and therefore its antenna, at multiple points.And since it's a design flaw, it's a much more serious issue that a software bug would be.
Since the story broke, the essential details have been widely confirmed across the Internet. Joe Wilcox of Betanews writes, "A cell phone should be a phone first and everything else second." Gizmodo's report states bluntly that signal bars are lost, and it is not an issue of appearance alone; call quality actually drops in the process.
Apple's apparent solution to this problem - without ever having admitted the problem exists - is the inclusion of "bumper guards" to prevent the incompatible element (your human hand) from physically touching the antenna. Whether this works sufficiently remains to be confirmed. Also, holding the phone with only the fingers, not the palm, is known to greatly reduce the problem.
Nonetheless, this is a phone that naturally conflicts with a person's basic human instinct: to hold the phone in the palm. The full ramifications of this discovery remain to be seen.