Apple internal iPhone 4 antenna troubleshooting docs leaked – Apple not offering bumpers for signal reception woes

If you’ve been having issues with wireless signal reception on your iPhone 4, related to the stainless steel band that doubles as an antenna (aka, the “Death Grip“)? Well, Apple knows there’s a problem and has distributed an internal troubleshooting guide to their Apple Store Genius Bar “geniuses.” The only problem is that the troubleshooting guide doesn’t offer any definitive fixes and flatly denies prohibits any Apple representative from offering a free iPhone 4 bumper case as a solution to the “Death Grip” issue.

The alleged troubleshooting guide was supposedly leaked today to Boy Genius Report by an Apple employee. Not surprisingly, the guide repeats Apple’s official stance on the iPhone 4 Death Grip signal reception issue: the iPhour has the best signal reception of any iPhone that Apple has ever shipped, all cellphones suffer signal degradation when held in certain ways, avoid covering the black strip along the steel band in the lower-left corner, use an iPhone 4 bumper case if the issue persists. Unfortunately, there are no clear cut solutions mentioned in the guide.

This is the “warranty” service procedure that Apple has mandated for all their Apple stores:

  1. Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy – your tone when delivering this information is important.
    • The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4’s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.
    • Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.
    • If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.
    • If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.
    • The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.
  2. Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns.
  3. Don’t forget YOU STILL NEED to probe and troubleshoot. If a customer calls about their reception while the phone is sitting on a table (not being held) it is not the metal band.
  4. ONLY escalate if the issue exists when the phone is not held AND you cannot resolve it.
  5. We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON’T promise a free bumper to customers.

The problem, for those of you not yet aware, is that the most striking design element on the iPhone 4 – the stainless steel metal band that frames the iPhone – also doubles as the cellular antenna. Unfortunately, when you hold the phone in a certain way, the antenna becomes partially blocked and loses signal. That’s a big problem.

There are rumblings about Apple issuing an iOS 4 update soon to fix the issue, but that update is not mentioned in the company’s alleged iPhone 4 antenna troubleshooting guide. If the guide is legit, which hasn’t been confirmed one way or the other, Apple may be trying to ignore this Death Grip issue as long as possible.

We’ll have to wait and see what Apple does about the Death Grip problem. Although, with all Apple stores currently sold out of stock, we can’t imagine Apple is too worried about selling new iPhones like hotcakes.

For the time being, take our Death Grip poll here!

[Via: BGR]

  • @TechThirst

    "d. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band."

    Jobs' original answer:
    "Just avoid holding it in that way"

    So basically Steve Jobs told us to "stay tuned" to hear exactly what we've heard so far.

    Bravo Apple. Bravo.

  • Martin

    Hogwash! The metal frame is the antenna. Hold the iPhone with your left hand and you have a classical shortcut! Every electrical engineer knows that. There are blogs on the internet, where engineers use TESA (clear adhesive plastic tape) over this antenna gap, and suddenly they have perfect reception all the time.

    The iPhone 4 has a stupid design error. Bumpers should be free or the design should be changed. The lawyers are waiting to attack…

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