Rumoured iPhone 4 reception issue 'solved'

Does holding your iPhone like this cause reception issues?
Does holding your iPhone like this cause reception issues?

The UK iPhone 4 launch has proved staggeringly popular, but an issue with the reception has caused worry among the new owners.

Strong anecdotal evidence of a reception issue caused by holding the iPhone in the left hand has been reported, and corroborated by TechRadar's own video.

However, it appears this problem can be easily solved – simply use an official iPhone 4 Bumper, which offers a rubberised rim around the edge.

Similarly, reports are coming in that placing a strip of 'screen protector' on the bottom-left side of the phone, where there's a small gap where the antenna apparently sits, will also perform the same function, should you not want a big rubber ring on your new phone.

Not a new issue

Many users will be rightly arguing that accessories and fixes shouldn't be needed on a new phone – but it appears the problem is not as serious as first feared.

TechRadar has pored through pages and pages of forum discussions, with the 'problems' varying from person to person, which means it's by no means a common issue.

Plus the same issue afflicted the iPhone 3GS too – holding it in the left hand caused bars to drop quickly, although call quality was rarely affected, as shown in the video:

In our extensive tests, the bars frequently dropped when the iPhone 4 was held in the described manner, but only once did the signal disappear altogether, and no calls were dropped, despite moving locations and varying conversation lengths.

UPDATE: We've been running a number of tests using the application, and it's not good news. In the left hand, the EDGE network is constantly wheeled out by the iPhone 4, with one bar.

The speed increases about 5x in the right hand, not masking the left hand corner - but placed flat on a table the speed was much greater, flying along at around 500Kbps download speed, which is worrying.

We've contacted Apple for clarification on the matter, and we'll update you as soon as we get word – we weren't worried about call quality before, and that seems to be stable, but when it comes to data Apple needs to do something, and fast.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.