iPhone 4 Cell Reception Suffers When Touching Its Stainless Steel Band (UPDATE: Or Software Issue?)

Scroll down for updates to this article.

A video on YouTube is showing what some of us feared – that the cell reception suffers when you touch the stainless steel band that surrounds the iPhone, holding the two pieces of glas (front and back) together while also acting as antennas.

There’s not much news about it yet, except from Danish professor Gert Frølund Pedersen from Aalborg University, Denmark, who’s an expert in cellphone antennas. When Comon.dk asked him about the iPhone 4 antenna system, he said that when human tissue comes in contact with an antenna, a part of the antennas energy will turn to heat and get lost – instead of doing what it’s supposed to – keeping a good connection with the cellphone towers. Basically the antenna will become less efficient in terms of sending and receiving signals.

Scientists from Aalborg University have previously shown that it’s possible to reduce the antenna efficiency with more than 90% if you hold your hand tightly around the cellphone where the antenna is located.

Engadget wrote, in their iPhone 4 review:

Apple has made the stainless band around the phone essentially a couple of big antennae, and they seem to be doing a pretty good job at hanging onto radio signals. The big question is obviously whether or not this fixes or helps with the constant dropped calls iPhone users on AT&T’s network have gotten used to. Well in our testing, we had far, far fewer dropped calls than we experienced on our 3GS. Let’s just say that again: yes, the iPhone 4 does seem to alleviate the dropped call issue.

While Walt Mossberg from Wall Street Journal wrote in his iPhone 4 review:

Yet, in some places where the signal was relatively weak, the iPhone 4 showed no bars, or fewer bars than its predecessor. Apple says that this is a bug it plans to fix, and that it has to do with the way the bars are presented, not the actual ability to make a call. And, in fact, in nearly all of these cases, the iPhone 4 was able to place calls despite the lack of bars.

Click here to read more iPhone 4 reviews.

This video below, unfortunately shows huge issues with the iPhone 4 antenna. We can only hope that the video is either fake, this particular iPhone 4 is faulty or that it’s simply a software issue that Apple will fix soon and that the guy in the video would still be able to make calls, despite the “Searching…”-message.

UPDATE #1: Another video has found its way to YouTube, showing the same issues. Let’s hope it’s a software thingy and not (only) hardware based…

UPDATE #2: I’ve heard that Apple is said to be releasing a software update that will fix these issues. The iPhones do have cellphone coverage despite the lack of bars, apparently. I don’t have a source yet, but I hope it’s true.

UPDATE #3: Check out Gizmodo’s “investigation” into the iPhone 4 cell reception issues.

12 thoughts on “iPhone 4 Cell Reception Suffers When Touching Its Stainless Steel Band (UPDATE: Or Software Issue?)”

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  3. Now that many iPhone 4 users have met such a problem, I think it is not a software issue.
    Waiting for the official replyfrom Apple.

    • It could still be a software issue. If the phone *thinks* it doesn’t have connection because the way the reception is reported/displayed, then perhaps it doesn’t try to transfer data/voice or it begins to hunt for another network. We don’t know exactly what a/the phone does when it thinks there’s no signal – so we have to wait and see if a software update comes out anytime soon.

  4. Well that might explain a lot. I never really thought about that but this made me think if it really does affect the reception.

    • Finnish language version is here (Google Translate):

  5. Pingback: Latest from Steve Jobs on the iPhone 4 Antenna Issues: “Stay Tuned” — TechPatio
  6. I see the same issue when I pick up my iPhone 4. However, even when it is just resting on the counter the bars come and go. The iPhone 3G and iPad 3G sitting right next to it have a solid 5 bars. I have a Microcell 20 feet away, so I am sure there is a solid signal.

  7. Prova att skriva på svenska som omväxling.
    Eller skaffa ett översättningsprogram värt namnet.
    Try writing in Swedish for a change.
    Or use another translate-bot, your present does not work.

    • Hi Stan,

      It’s Google Translate. I know it’s not the best but I doubt that any of the other services are able to do a better job – what do you think?

      – Promt Online Translator
      – Altavista Babel Fish
      – FreeTranslator

  8. This phone is SO good!!! It is super mini and very easy to use! We bought it for my gif daughter who is 11. It is compatible with cell phone services so it can be activated for a small fee a month. She doesn’t use it much but the battery life lasts for a couple of days! I am super impressed and happy to know that she will have an easy basic at to contact her family for any needs! Highly recommend!!!


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