iPhone 4 Reception Problem (Death Grip) Could be Related to iOS, Not Hardware

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Sad like Keanu about the iPhone 4 Death Grip? Hang in there buddy, it’s possible a software solution is on the way. A few iPhone 4 owners were experiencing reception problems when holding their new baby the wrong way, which we presumed had something to do with the antennae around the outside. According to some iPhone 3G and 3GS owners who had installed iOS 4 the other day however, they’re having the same drop-off. Here are a few videos showing the signal die under the same circumstances on the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

Just to recap, the iPhone 4 is Apple’s new magical wondercookie of a smartphone, featuring a bar-setting 960 x 640 touchscreen, 5 megapixel camera with HD video recording, and a new operating system with multitasking. It just came out today on AT&T, if you’re thinking of getting one.

Since it’s apparently just a software problem, then everyone should get an update at some point to fix the reception, but it’s still a pretty major glitch. If you’re having problems, be sure to weigh in on our poll – we’re trying to get an idea if this is a really bad situation, or just a few scattered reports, so even if everything’s hunky-dory, let us know!

[Update]
AT&T issued a statement to GearLog about the alleged reception issues. Their “fix” is apparently to stop holding the phone in “certain places” or to use one of the “many available [iPhone 4] cases.” Full statement:

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 Phone 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.

  • @ryanmarx

    How is reception a software issue?

    • Bentendo

      Because those experiencing bar drops, aren't actually having their signal effected… calls go on perfectly fine regardless. Therefore it's software and not hardware.

      • fay dibner

        nope, if you do it in a weak signal area it drops the calls, mine goes offline, so put some gaffa tape over it now

    • Gregory

      From what I've heard, the bars are actually measuring the quality of signal as opposed to the strength of signal which are supposedly two different things? Or something like that. I don't know what to believe

    • J. C.

      Two new iphone 4 models. Both have poor signals from same locations 3G iPhones worked fine from for last year. Many calls have been dropped, and at times the signal loss is so severe both phones are searching or NO SERVICE. Jumped through the hoops with AT&T, reloaded OS system, changed settings, etc. Still poor signal strength.

      • sandy

        Same here – Replaced my first iphone 4 yesterday and still have bad reception (mainly at my house though). My 2 previous iphones had great reception at my house, and my husbands phone (not iphone) also still has good reception here. And this happens when the phone is just sitting on a counter top, so NOT related to holding it wrong. Talked to ATT today and they credited my acct $25.00 for the problem, and said they were working on a network problem… But if it were the network, it would affect my phone in other areas as well, and my husband would also have poor reception at our home and elsewhere. It is driving me crazy and might have to return it for a new 3GS iphone since already gave mine to my daughter… :

        • dave

          My problem is exactly as you described. Very frustrating. Maybe I should seek some credit from AT&T as well but that is not going to fix the problem.

        • Steve :)

          Going through the same problems as you Sandy!!! Don't know what to think, even with a case on iPhone4 there is still major fluctuations in signal strength. If apple's update makes signal percentage more accurate, but nothing to help true strength, well its going to solve nothing!!!! Bad Antenna…for everyone, but are others getting such fluctuations in signal strength, or just a minority??? Wish i just stuck with 3GS i really do…They released the phone.4 to quickly…its got lots of problem, it doesn't even work properly with my in car parrot for iPhone, cuts out and fails to connect….GRRRR APPLE HAVE A LOT TO ANSWER FOR!!!!!!!!! (rant over) lol :)

  • Phil Moore

    I have a 3GS upgraded to OS4 and I get the same bar drop as in the videos. I wondered if it was a loss of signal or incorrect reporting of signal strength! I made a call as soon as I picked up the phone and there was no change in the connection to the other party even though it indicated NO bars of signal strength.

    Looks like it is a disconnect on the accurate representation of signal strength and not an actual loss of service.

    • Jwoodward

      Having same problem with upgraded 3GS. Actually it seems to have an even greater effect on my WiFI reception. I'm in same house with same router, and it can't even pick up the signal. MUST be s/w!

  • Greg

    Yup. Me and a buddy of mine have the same reception issues. Bizarre.

  • Kevin

    in my testing of the ip4 with text / mms or surfing the web with wifi disabled, service is interrupted while holding using the death grip. text messages /mms message or using safari loading page will not send a message open a page. As soon as you lie the phone on the table, messages are sent, pages open.

    as for phone calls, if you have no bars or even one bar while holding in death grip, my calls would not get placed for a short period of time, delayed. indicating this is a definite issue with reception.

    i seriously doubt this is a software issue for the iphone mis-representing the level of service. you do get some marginal error within the display bars but dropping from 5 to 1 or none and attempting these simple tasks – well lets face it, is not a good sign of performance.

    all mobile phones are susceptible to the death grip (3G, 3GS, other non apple phones) because of the antenna and the placement of the antenna…no way around it.

    hope this gets full support from Apple sooner than later.

  • john

    I can't recreate this.

  • Joel

    My friend got two iphone 4's today. One worked fine, the other had loss of reception with the same "death grip".

  • Christopher

    I just downgraded to 3.1.3 for my 3G.

    It does the exact same thing … this is NOT an iOS 4.0 issue.

    ALL phones lose reception when you put your meat paws on them so some degree or other.

  • stephen

    I can't even send or read text messages, am I an unlucky one. No idea how to get this resolved and getting through to O2 is impossible!

    • Charity J

      My Iphone 3G won't send or receive text messages either! Im freaking out how to restore to previous ios

  • Putt

    I’m not sure with other users out there, I have an iPhone 3GS, since I’ve updated to OS 4.0, I had major problems with my 3G speed not working, I always have to power cycle the phone to get it back to normal status and yes I tried the universal OS restore but the same problem, also I seen problems with not being able to send MMS at all. Any help from anyone out here about this issue, or is anyone experiencing the same problems?

  • marinperez

    I love this picture

  • ACEM

    i think it is a hardware (antenna) problem and a software (possible mis-representation of bars) issue.

  • Peter

    Has anyone tried putting something thin over the antenna like a strip of tape or even some nail polish? Just interested in whether breaking the conductivity stops the problem.

  • Paul Garner

    since upgrading to OS4 my 3G is very much slower, occasionally all the apps icons start jiggling without reason, cannot always send text when pressing on "send" it always worked but not now. The keyboard is much slower to pop up……… ical is much slower to appear and when it does the calender dates appear and there is a time lag before the events dots appear
    Paul Garner

  • sandy

    I am having major reception problems and had the first phone replaced yesterday. No difference and I still have bad reception (mainly at my house though). My 2 previous iphones (3G & 3GS) had great reception at my house, and my husband's phone (not iphone) also still has good reception here. And this happens when the phone is just sitting on a counter top, so NOT related to holding it wrong. Talked to ATT today and they credited my acct $25.00 for the problem, and said they were working on a network problem… But if it were the network, it would affect my phone in other areas as well, and my husband would also have poor reception at our home and elsewhere. My signal jumps all over the place and I have rarely been able to complete a call without receiving "Call Failed" message. I was told this is different than a "dropped call" and related to reception/poor signal, but no idea why different on new iphone 4 in the same house — Other than a inferior antenna? It is driving me crazy and might have to return it for a new 3GS iphone since already gave mine to my daughter… :

  • sandy

    I am having major reception problems and had the first phone replaced yesterday. No difference and I still have bad reception (mainly at my house though). My 2 previous iphones (3G & 3GS) had great reception at my house, and my husband's phone (not iphone) also still has good reception here. And this happens when the phone is just sitting on a counter top, so NOT related to holding it wrong. Talked to ATT today and they credited my acct $25.00 for the problem, and said they were working on a network problem… But if it were the network, it would affect my phone in other areas as well, and my husband would also have poor reception at our home and elsewhere. My signal jumps all over the place and I have rarely been able to complete a call without receiving "Call Failed" message. I was told this is different than a "dropped call" and related to reception/poor signal, but no idea why different on new iphone 4 in the same house — Other than a inferior antenna? It is driving me crazy and might have to return it for a new 3GS iphone since already gave mine to my daughter… :

  • sandy

    poor iphone 4 reception NOT related to holding it wrong. Extremely poor and fluctuating signal while it is sitting on a counter top or being held correctly. Keep getting "Call Failed" message. Replaced it once and it did not solve problem. and the location is a problem though 9unfortunately my house)..:( My two previous iphones (3G & 3GS) had great reception at my house so this does not make sense. other than inferior antenna?

  • zholy

    I thought they're going to add the ability to make phonecalls in iPhone 4, but I guess it'll have to wait………….

  • Dave B

    Upgraded my 3gs to OS4 – reception in my home was previously 4 to 5 bars. Now lucky to get 2 bars and the phone is always dropping calls. My blackberry still gets 4 to 5 bars at almost all times while sitting within 4 to 5 inches of the iPhone. Also the voice memo app locks up all the time since the OS "upgrade".
    But of course it's probably my fault according to Jobs.

  • Martin

    It's NOT a friggin death GRIP!!! At most its a touch of death! Apples PR machine have really spun this arround by pointing fingers at everybody and their grandma :-o

    Ofc you are going to loose signal on a device if you cover up the antenna! Difference between iPhone 4 and other devices is that where iP 4 looses signal and DROPS it with holding it normally (or touching the small gap between the two antennaes on the left side) other devices gets lower signal (but doesn't drop calls etc.) only if you deathgrip them by firmly holding on to them (sometimes using both hands and covering up the screen in an UNnatural way, a way you wouldn't normally use your phone)

  • Jwoodward

    3gs upgraded to OS 4: noticed huge Wifi problems using same router in same location–Safari crawls or drops signal altogether. was not a problem before upgrade, which I mostly like, but reception problem is huge.

  • Jgardin

    Both my iPhone 4 and my wife’s continually drop the signal. It comes back immediately upon reboot, but what a pain in the rear. Also, replaced SIM because AT&T thought that was the issue. Not.

  • Akerr10080

    Have not had any recent problems with iphone4, now it is going spastic on me. Signal keeps fading in an out even when phone is setting on table. Turned phone off and on doesn’t do any good. Very ticked off that vie had the phone since October and now having problems. It has had no damage, as I would drop a kid before I dropped my phone! Not really, but close! Currently using iPad to type this in, you would think I would stay away from apple huh?

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