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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
55,457
17,794


Gizmodo has compiled a series of videos demonstrating that the iPhone 4s single bars seem to drop down significantly when being held in hand. The report actually began in our own forums with a video demonstrating the reproducibility of the problem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ixIHyEPO5g

The finding has generated many responses from people who have noticed similar behavior. While there has been some talk of this being a display error rather than an actual signal issue, several have reported that calls do drop when the bars decline. At least one user has posted a video demonstrating it not happening on his iPhone 4:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxsZQeF7PfM

While this reader dismisses the claims as "trolling", there are plenty of videos from a variety of users demonstrating the reproducibility on many other people's iPhone 4s.

The question, though, remains -- is this a new issue or are people more acutely aware of it due to the attention drawn to the iPhone 4s exterior antennas. One expert had even predicted this might be a problem.

We're not so sure it's an iPhone 4 specific issue. We remember seeing videos demonstrating this same "issue" for prior iPhone devices. For whatever reason, those videos never drew that much attention. Here's a video showing the same phenomenon on an iPhone 3G. This video was posted in 2008:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN6265QQwhU

Article Link: iPhone 4 Signal Declines While Being Held? An Old Issue?
 

flapperdink

macrumors member
Jan 25, 2009
80
0
i'm not overly surprised. you create three separate antennas on the case, each one is most likely "tuned" to the frequency range it's supposed to operate in, and you short them to each other in your hand and change their characteristic impedance. the body is a high resistance, but it just may have an affect.
 

Meriana

macrumors member
Aug 31, 2009
83
0
doesn't happen here in Switzerland with my iphone 3g. Maybe a AT&T issue?

nor have i heard of dropped calls etc. here in Switzerland.
 

oban14

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2008
554
1
This is a known problem with all iPhone models, actually. The signal declines when being held, when being looked at, when going between apps, when sitting on a desk, when driving, and during a variety of activities.

The iPhone and AT&T network are designed to show a full 5 bars until you actually try using it go on the internet.
 

Shorties

macrumors 6502a
Jul 22, 2007
581
1
Southern California
My iPhone 4 seems to do it too when I hold it with my left hand but not my right, not sure why. Oh and mine never drops below 2 bars (But it definitely goes down as I usually always get 5 bars). But I do have really good AT&T reception here in the Santa Barbara area.
 

jaykid007

macrumors newbie
Jun 17, 2009
14
0
I held the phone the same way and in several different locations in my house and still have 5 bars. Not once lowered to 4 bars. I believe its based on the service in the area, not the iphone IMHO. ATT service does suck so we will see when I give it a road test.
 

iPadThai

macrumors 6502a
Apr 25, 2010
547
0
This issue I can reproduce. I do not have the pee-stained lcd issues but I do have this antenna issue, however. But when it drops down to one bar being displayed, I don't lose my internet connection (while using 3G) nor do I lose the voice call. In fact, I have made calls while using 3G and surfing at the same time while having one bar and the connection is solid.

I did notice that when you hold BOTH antennas with your fingers (all five), it will cause a drop in signal meter display. If you hold with two fingers or hold only one of the antennas, the meter does not drop down.

I just threw an old incipio 3G cover over the iPhone 4. Problem solved (for now). It has no problems with the incipio case over the iPhone...

Perhap's the human contact with the antenna's are causing a break in the conductance of these antennas somehow?
 

Warbrain

macrumors 603
Jun 28, 2004
5,702
293
Chicago, IL
This issue I can reproduce. I do not have the pee-stained lcd issues but I do have this antenna issue, however. But when it drops down to one bar being displayed, I don't lose my internet connection (while using 3G) nor do I lose the voice call. In fact, I have made calls while using 3G and surfing at the same time while having one bar and the connection is solid.

I did notice that when you hold BOTH antennas with your fingers (all five), it will cause a drop in signal meter display. If you hold with two fingers or hold only one of the antennas, the meter does not drop down.

I just threw an old incipio 3G cover over the iPhone 4. Problem solved (for now). It has no problems with the incipio case over the iPhone...

Perhap's the human contact with the antenna's are causing a break in the conductance of these antennas somehow?

It's possible. Every antenna you cover with a piece of flesh loses some signal. Happens to all phones.
 

bunty

macrumors member
Oct 14, 2008
50
7
Correlation does not imply causation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

The two variable here are the iPhone and the signal strength. Not all iPhones are likely to be identical and not all locations are likely to have the same signal strength.

Someone with two or more iPhones needs to try this with several phones in the exact same place, then again at another location where this happens.
 

coryndiego

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2008
182
2
San Diego, Ca.
Signal Bars

I'm not having this issue with my iPhone 4. I did get an Edge signal earlier today while I was in a basement level office but when I held the phone up away from where it was resting it jumped back to 4 bars 3G. I'm in SAn Diego and the coverage is pretty good... Maybe it happens more where there is a low signal?

Also, if it is a signal interruption, maybe the bumpers play a role in better signal quality? You wouldnt be touching the metal minus the buttons.

one other thing... The compass seems to have interference a lot... was this the same on the 3Gs? I just upgraded from a 3G.
 

Carefulle

macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2006
7
0
Norfolk,VA
Free "bumper" with purchase of iPhone 4

holding the iphone does reduce the signal bars a bit. I wonder if apple will start to include a free bumper or voucher. BTW ATT has been nothing but great to me. When I was deployed to haiti, the offered free long distance the whole time I was out there, other phone companies did offer similar but not close to ATT.
 

Chaszmyr

macrumors 601
Aug 9, 2002
4,267
85
I don't know what to think. There are a lot of videos of this, which certainly suggests a problem. I have a 3GS, and when I pick it up I lose one bar, but I'm in a very strong coverage area, so I'm not sure if I would lose more bars elsewhere.

Still, the videos of people just having one finger on the iPhone 4 to connect the two antennae seem to suggest that whatever problem the 3G/3GS have is different than the problem the iPhone 4 has.
 
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