The iPhone 4 antenna problems are a hot topic, but they’re not necessarily well understood – especially because not all iPhone 4s experience them. Read on to learn more about what causes the problems, how widespread they are, and how to fix them.
What Causes the iPhone 4 Antenna Problems?
The problem the iPhone 4 experiences with its antenna have to do with what’s called "bridging" the antenna. This occurs when a hand or finger covers the antenna area on the left side of the iPhone. Interference between our bodies and the circuit of the antenna can cause the iPhone 4 to lose signal strength (aka, bars).
Do all iPhone 4s Experience The Problem?
No. That’s one of the complicated things about the problem. Some iPhone 4s are effected by the bug, others are not. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which units are affected. To get a sense of the full scope of the hit-or-miss nature of the problem, check out Engadget’s comprehensive post surveying two dozen tech writers about their experiences.
How Serious Is the Problem?
It depends on where you are, actually. The growing consensus about the problem is that bridging the antenna causes a drop in signal strength, but not a total loss of signal.
This means that in an area with full coverage (all five bars, perhaps), you’ll see some decrease in signal strength, but not usually enough to drop a call or interrupt a data connection.
However, in a location with weaker coverage (one or two bars, for instance), the drop in signal strength may be enough to end a call or data connection.
How to Fix the iPhone 4 Antenna Problems
Luckily, the way to fix the iPhone 4 antenna problem is pretty simple: prevent your finger or hand from bridging the antenna.
Apple’s response has been not to hold the phone that way, but that’s obviously not a reasonable (or always possible – hi left-handers!) option.
Instead, get a case. This will cover the antenna and prevent your body from coming into contact with it.
A lower-cost alternative is to cover the left-side antenna with a piece of thick tape or duct tape to prevent the contact.
Apple may also be releasing a fix for the issue soon.