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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Several readers have pointed out that, as per Steve Jobs statement, other mobile phones also suffer from similar signal degradation while being held tightly. In fact, a support thread for Google's Nexus One described a very similar issue back in February:
If you go to Settings -> About Phone -> Status you will see a display for "Signal strength". When my phone is sitting on the desk, the signal stays consistent. However, the second I touch my phone, the signal drops up to as much as -20 dBm. I am able to replicate this test every single time, whether the signal is incredibly strong or weak.
Another user filmed this video of his Nokia 6230 showing the same phenomenon:

Apple's official response is that this is "normal" for any mobile phone:
Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.
Obviously, depending on your natural hand position while using the iPhone this may or may not be easily avoidable. Another simple solution that has been said to work is placing some sort of tape on the bottom portion of the iPhone 4's antenna which should prevent the antenna bridging when holding the phone.

Article Link: Other Mobile Phones with Similar Signal Loss Issues


macrumors newbie
May 25, 2007

My 3GS does this, and I never noticed until today - had it for a year. Perhaps this is indeed a non-issue?


macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2010
Good to see at least one other phone doing this. I'd like to see ALOT more of the same before I make an opinion. I also will not form an opinion about the iPhone and this problem until I've had enough time to decided if it even affects me or not. So far today and yesterday I have placed several calls and used internet quite a bit...not a problem yet.


macrumors 68040
Jun 23, 2003
Durham, NC
Are you effing kidding me? I've done repeated 3G speed test trials that show when my iPhone 4 is lying on the desk it gets between 2 and 2.5mbps down, but when I'm holding it—in my left hand OR my right—it goes down to .24 - .9mbps.

In my book, that's BROKEN, and they'd better FIX IT.


macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
St. Louis, MO
My Nexus One signal strength actually goes up by a couple dBm when I hold it. I've owned many phones and none of them have had this issue. I'm either a giant antenna or Apple failed on this one.


macrumors 65816
Feb 7, 2010
The common denominator here is AT&T.

LOL. Any problem with the iPhone is automatically blamed on AT&T, even if it's a hardware problem.

This is a huge cop out by Apple. Yes, all phones can have the effectiveness of their antennas affected by your hand and head, but the design of the iPhone makes it particularly problematic since the antennas are integral to the chassis which is exposed around the edge of the phone. If you touch the edge then you are touching the antenna.


macrumors newbie
Jun 1, 2010
my 2G, 3G and 3Gs DO NOT experience this.

I guess the issue is a design flaw with our hands, since the iPhone is PERFECT:confused:

are you kidding me? not just how to hold it, in what direction the phone is hold can also contribute the signal strength. all cell phones have the same issue.

Spanky Deluxe

macrumors 601
Mar 17, 2005
London, UK
Guys!! It's fine, I found a fix. No need to worry.



macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
The thick of it
Is it just a coincidence that the Nokia is also on AT&T's network? :p

In the two years I've had my iPhone 3G, I've never noticed the signal strength correlating to my hand position. And today I was holding it all sorts of different ways just to test it. Where I live, I normally get about two bars of EDGE. Inexplicably, some days I get five bars of 3G and some days I get that little dot. No matter what the signal is initially, handling my 3G has no effect on the signal strength.

Although it might be comforting that other phones have this problem, it's even more reason that Apple should have been aware of it and found a solution (or at least la way to lessen its effects besides "don't hold it that way").


macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2006
~119W 34N
The original iPhone had its own sensitive area, only its was the entire bottom (the plastic cover area). If it was held, so your hand covered this area (especially when up against your face) you would experience a significant signal drop - especially in marginal signal locations.

Any RF device is sensitive to outside influences to its antenna - cell phones, in particular, as they need to operate in close proximity to the body.


macrumors newbie
Jun 1, 2010
Well im glad an old POS phone from 10 years ago experiences this same problem...:apple:

those good old days! POTS is still the best.

what is funny is when i pitched the call quality to those folks from cell phone and voip phone they just don't seem to care because customers DO NOT care as long as their phone bill is cheaper. well i guess ppl get to used to bad phone calls.

so i don't get how ppl get so upset about iphone 4.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2009
My 3GS does this, and I never noticed until today - had it for a year. Perhaps this is indeed a non-issue?

It isn't an issue. But the gravity of this product is causing people to look for anything to point out that is negative about it. Everyone wants to be the first to say "My iPhone does this and that, what a piece of junk."


macrumors regular
Jun 20, 2010
Apple just lost me as a customer. What a bunch of callous jerks. Ive never had a single phone that I could kill every single call just by holding it normally. This may sit well with Apple fanboys and apologists, but not with me. I'm just a consumer that wants the most for my money.
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