iPhone 4 left hand signal loss dependant on the quality of your 3G coverage

by Justin Horn on Jun 25th, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

UPDATE The final answer on why some see the drop and some don’t, spoiler alert: What I said below was dead on.

I know I touched on this already in my bumpers help prevent iPhone 4 signal drop post, but I thought it warranted highlighting this in it’s own post.

From my bumpers post:

I then tested in another room with less electronics. In this room I started with a strong signal of 5 bars. This time around, with or without the bumper, the signal held pretty much at 5 bars. This may explain why some people don’t seem to notice this issue. If you have really great AT&T service where you live, the in hand signal drop may not be as noticeable.

In addition to this sweet spot, last night I tweeted:

Out for a late snack, first time out of my house since getting the phone and nothing I do lowers the 5 bars. Very strange.

And then tweeted when I got home:

Back home and back to touching bottom left corner and losing signal.

John Gruber also believe the signal strength could be the cause:

My best guess at this point is that the issue pops up in areas with spotty 3G coverage. With nothing covering the antenna, the improved reception of the iPhone 4 gives you more bars, maybe even up to 5. But when you cover the antenna in these areas with poor coverage, the phone is unable to get a strong signal. I’ve seen several reports from people who can reproduce the problem, but only from certain locations.

I think the problem is “the bars”. They serve their purpose for the most part, but when trying to do a test involving signal strength we need more detail. I would argue that 5 bars in one area is not necessarily equal to 5 bars in another. Start with a “weak 5 bars” and you can see the signal loss represented by the bars dropping.  Start with a “strong 5 bars” and the signal may be getting weaker, but never below the 5 bar threshold. In this case it appears to the user that they still have the same signal strength and it goes unnoticed.

Follow me on Twitter @justin_horn

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Antenna Issue, iPhone 4, Speculation


  1. [...] reading John Gruber’s post backing up my idea, I did a more specific follow up post on the issue: I think the problem is “the bars”. They serve their purpose for the most part, [...]

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