Just days after the launch of the much-anticipated iPhone 4, Apple is already taking loads of flak from frustrated iPhone users who say that holding the device in their left hand causes the phone to lose all cellular reception. For its part, Apple has confirmed the problem, offering a dead-simple solution that's got Apple users up in arms: "Don't hold it that way."
According to Apple's official press release about the iPhone 4 reception issues:
"Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your Phone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."
The problem with that statement is that it's nearly impossible to hold an iPhone in your left hand withut covering both sides of the black strip in the metal band, meaning that left-handed iPhone 4 users are going to have to either hold their phones in an extremely uncomfortable left-handed position or switch to using their right hands when making phone calls.
It's bad news for the launch of the device, which users around the world predicted would be marred by technical issues. The launch of nearly every Apple iPhone device has been closely followed by revelations about technical problems, stemming from poor wi-fi reception to bad 3G connectivity.
According to tech blog Ars Technica, which has a direct line to Apple founder Steve Jobs, the reception problem stems from the fact that the iPhone's two antennas are placed around the perimeter of the device, as opposed to at the bottom of the handset, where the majority of mobile providers have begun placing their antennas. The problem occurs when the human hand bridges the two different antennas, leading in many cases to an almost immediate loss of mobile reception.
When Ars Technica contacted Steve Jobs about the problem, Jobs wrote back a snappy email stating that the solution is, quite simply, "don't hold it that way." That one sentence has come to represent Apple's technical shortcomings, forcing users to change how they'd naturally use a device in order to accomodate for Apple's design flaws, design flaws which must surely have turned up in the testing and designing phases of the iPhone 4's development.
The popular device blog Engadget has taken the humor one step farther, pointing out in a wide series of Apple promotional materials that Apple themselves has a tendency to hold the iPhone 4 wrong.
There are some homespun solutions to the problem; Apple recommends using a "bumper" case for the iPhone, which will prevent the skin from coming in contact with the part of the phone that causes the bridging problem. Other iPhone 4 users have discovered that covering the bridge point with simple masking tape is a low-tech solution that, although not visually appealing, is quick and easy to implement.
According to articles early this week, Apple is pushing out an update to the brand-new iOS
4 firmware that they hope will correct, or at least mitigate, the problem.
Let's just hope that this is the only issue that folks discover with the iPhone 4 in the coming days and weeks!