Reports are surfacing that some iPhone 4 users are unwittingly strangling reception via the metal antennas surrounding the phone's body.
Some iPhone 4 owners in the U.S. are noticing that touching the seams--particularly when holding the iPhone 4 in their bare left hands--interrupts reception, slowly causing the phone to lose its signal.
We're looking into the issue, setting a number of people with a number of gripping positions loose on a number of iPhones to see if our skin's conductivity throws AT&T's five-bar, 3G reception off its groove. We were able to consistently reproduce the issue on one iPhone 4, which lost one or two bars of reception when our hands or fingers covered the left joint.
It took about a minute for the first bar to drop, and about five seconds to regain each bar of lost signal. At one point, our susceptible iPhone 4 lost all five bars of reception and went into searching mode. We had to work much harder to suffocate the signal on the second iPhone 4.
In both cases, some of us had an easier time strangling the signal than others. The problem of signal loss on the left antenna appears to ride on a combination of factors--overall signal strength, the individual handset, and who's holding the phone.
Using an accessory, like the $29 rubber bumper Apple sells to protect the iPhone, would also break your skin's conductivity and eliminate the problem. Apple has been pushing its bumper--essentially a $30 rubber band--pretty hard, which makes us wonder if the company's marketing strategy is a cover-up for a known reception issue.
Apple did not immediately respond to our questions.
While we continue diving into the matter, we'd like to hear from you. If anyone out there has an iPhone 4, does covering the black bands on the bottom of the phone's sides slowly cut off the signal after a few minutes?
Update, 11:38 a.m. PDT: with more of our in-house testing results.