So, I did check co-worker’s phone for the “reception issue” where grabbing the phone by the sides results in gradual 4-bar signal strength loss. In his case it started with 5 bars and ended with 1, still being able to receive the call, though placing a call took a long time. Yes, the antenna problems are real (oh and compared to my monster-sized phone, new iPhone 4G looks outright tiny, while 3Gs looks kinda smallish — I suppose it’s because of crispness of the screen and physical dimensions)
And now there is finally an official Apple response, that essentially says “well, any phone would have a problem”, don’t hold it that way, or buy yourself a case. Righ. My HTC Evo doesn’t have this issue. Worst case? Cupping phone and grabbing and squishing it from all sides resulted in either no effects or a single bar drop. But that’s CDMA too…
If any other phone manufacturer (say, HTC) had the audacity to tell you “well don’t grab the phone that way or you will loose the signal”, there’d be so much howling it wouldn’t even be funny. But with Apple it is funny — only Apple has enough branding power to teach users not to hold things the “bad” way, because product design results in reduced performance.
Easiest solution? Offer those expensive bumpers for free. There’d be a host of ecstatic fans (just think of the generosity!), technical issue would be resolved on the spot (no contact with antenna/case — no problems) and most people wouldn’t have widely fluctuating signal strength indicators, which would kinda save AT&T another bucket of grief (It’s not the beloved product, it’s the Evil Network, and things like that).
Will see if this will happen a bit later. Of course there also could be a fix in manufacturing process. For example, some sort of transparent laquer could be added. But it’d take a month or so to percolate into retail systems, plus the phone would look somewhat different, and part of the appeal is that nice metallic frame, that also turns out to be an antenna.
Hopefully the problem will resolve quickly. Phone still is a marvel of engineering, just not quite completely perfect.
p.s. Engadget pointed out that all Apple ad photos show ‘incorrect’ grip that causes reception problems on iPhone 4. Whoopsies. Time to re-shoot all those ad photos!