Reporters' Roundtable: What's the iPhone 4's problem?

The phone's radio problems can't be solved with a software fix, no matter what Apple says. We talk with CNET's Maggie Reardon and AnandTech's Brian Klug about what's really wrong with the iPhone 4.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

The iPhone 4's radio woes are well-documented. The most recent tests, like our own, show dramatic radio performance issues when a part of the external antenna is gripped.

This week on the Roundtable, we delve into the electronic and radio engineering issues affecting the iPhone 4's antennas, as well as other phones. Our guests are CNET's Maggie Reardon, author of "5-bar phone signal: What's it get you?," and AnandTech's Brian Klug, who tested the iPhone for that site and co-wrote "Apple's iPhone 4: Thoroughly Reviewed."

If you want to really understand why the iPhone behaves the way it does, watch or listen to this episode of Reporters' Roundtable.

Watch this: What's really wrong with the iPhone radio?


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Show notes and talking points

Why does touching an antenna matter?

Brian, run down the measurements you did for Anandtech

What does Apple's fix actually do?.

Can you fix the problem with nail polish?

Matters more in low coverage areas, why?

What's the deal with other phones?

History of how-to-hold-the-phone warnings?

How could this not show up in field tests?

Does holding it wrong ever cause the signals to improve?

What is the solution?

Let's talk about networks. You can have five bars and still get dropped calls or slow data. How?

Questions from the chat room:
rygavs: Are the radios on the iPhones that have been already sold easily repairable without a bumper? Could Genius Bar staff just coat it with something?

CurtisB: Is there a difference in reception between Edge and 3G?

TBolt: I'd be curious to know if the current iPhone would fail on Verizon's network just as much as it does on AT&T's.

Email comments to roundtable@cnet.com, and get all the show notes as well as replays and downloads of the podcast on the blog. For early news about the next episode of Reporters' Roundtable, follow Rafe on Twitter.