Apple May Fix iPhone 4 Antenna Issue with iOS 4.01

June 27, 2010 — by Simon Ng8



Apple May Fix iPhone 4 Antenna Issue with iOS 4.01

June 27, 2010 — by Simon Ng8

Soon after the launch of iPhone 4, the web is flooded with reports and discussions about iPhone 4’s antenna issue. You may already heard about the problem. Known as the “Death Grip”, when you hold iPhone 4 in a way that covers the steel bands, it loses the reception. In worst case, the signal weakens to the point that calls are dropped. Engadget has put up a great video to demonstrate the issue.

The problem is attributed to the brilliant antenna design of iPhone 4. C.K. Sample has emailed Steve Jobs about the antenna issue. Here is what Steve Jobs replied:

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.

It’s an interesting reply. The solution is to hold the iPhone 4 in a different way or buy an iPhone case. Does this make sense?

To me, the reception issue is a design issue or a limitation of the “brilliant” antenna design. However, as reported by AppleInsider, the “Death Grip” issue appears to be a software issue on the iOS 4 update. It’s also rumored that Apple will release a “bug fix” update next week (as early as Monday) to resolve the reception issue:

Readers report that Apple’s tech support forums originally confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday), before the comments were subsequently taken down along with all the other related discussion about the matter.

The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

At this point, Apple does not officially confirm the software fix. As a potential buyer of iPhone 4 (it’ll go on sale in my city next month), I really hope the reception issue can be fixed via software, considered that I used to hold the phone using my left hand.

Anyhow, let’s wait for a couple of days and see if there is any update of iOS 4. Stay tuned. I will keep you posted about the news.

Tip: If you want to learn more about the antenna issue of iPhone 4, check out this article written by an antenna expert from Antennasys Inc.

Simon Ng

Founder, developer and chief blogger of

  • BlackBird

    I have been planning to purchase this phone, in fact visited apple store in SFO twice to get it. Fortunately lines were too long and I had to come back.

    I am now going to hold off until this issue is resolved.

    I have heard that this issue goes away if you cover it up with the $30 rubber band that apple sells, I do not think that I am going to buy that along with the phone. I want my iPhone to in a natural shape.

    Waiting for the time when this issue is resolved.

    May shortsell some of apple shares 🙂

  • Peter

    Get Ingenico Case for 20.00 at Radio Shack. Way better than Iphone case.

    I got my iphone 4 shipped to me June 23. Let me say I love it. First, I can actually use it at my house where my Iphone 2G would get no reception. I get 2 and 3 bars all the time. Also at my desk I get 4 bars where i used to get no signal. I did notice the bars drop when i held it once I heard about the issue. But never dropped calls.
    Best thing is sides are flat so you can set in on a table to record video or take pictures. All you need is remote control now. Voice command to snap the picture would be cool. Genius design.

    It be cool if software fixes it but its really a non issue cause you probably want a rubber case anyway. Even with case its still same size as 3GS without case. I got an Ingenico case at Radio Shack for 20.00 after going a couple days without. It was nerve racking worrying about scratches those couple days. This ingenico case covers entire back and sides. For front it comes with a screen protector so your a hundred percent protected. And let me tell I put that screen protector on and pulled it off a few times to get it aligned right and it sticks good still. Also, I can set my phone back side down and have 2mm of space between my camera lens and flash and the table. I like that.

    I crashed iphone 1 time so far . Froze up . It was looking for current location in maps. Ipad has same problem sometimes. Can stand next to someone with 3GS on same wifi network and they’ll find current location and Ipad will just spin and spin.

    • Peter

      It’s actually an Incipio case. Not Ingenico. Sorry about that. Don’t know how to edit comment. The incipio case is great. I thought I might like a case like the iPad case apple sells which is great but for phone, flip open cases aren’t real good I don’t think.

      Thanks simon for great blog and daily posts. It will be fun to jailbreak iPhone 4.

  • Abishek

    Hi Simon,

    Just came back from apple store at palo alto area in California to check the new iphone 4..
    Its out of stock right now and told will be available within 8-10 days & they will inform me about it through mail.

    I even checkd out the gyro thing… first when i told that i want to see gyro working on any app… apple lady/girl who was helping me was not even knew what is gyrosphere then finally apple guy helped me and he then searched & downloaded app supporting gyrosphere… it was freaking awesome & accurate….

    I even asked about the signal problem.. apple guy acknowledged the problem and then told me that it has been rectified by apple as it was s/w problem…. he even demonstrated on sample phone placed on self and when i told that i m not convinced then he demonstrated on his personal iphone4 and there seems to be no problem now as i tried for couple of minutes to replicate the “Death Grip”….
    That dude totally convinced me and now eagerly waiting for a mail from apple side for the availability…
    I want one as soon as possible…..


    • Abishek

      Hi Simon,

      I did some more googling to make myself sure about the problem resolution… pls chk this article:

      extract from article:
      “One of the new additions in iOS4 (Version 4.0) is a new way the baseband handles signals and signal noise. This was a major revision in the baseband software and according to the article below, the software is more than likely to blame for the chaos”

      PS: Please let keep us updated with iphone 4 jailbreak & unlock news

  • nick

    This shows my iPhone 3g and iPhone 4 on ios 4.0 both having the same problem it has to be software not hardware.

  • Chandler

    Hi Simon? Do u know the exact date the iPhone 4 will be on sell in HKG?

  • Chandler, not only is the iPhone 4 everything we want, its coming to Hong Kong in July – alongside the official iPad launch! According to one of the shop owners in Hong Kong, about 50-100 of iPhone 4 will be in stock and they start from $7000 HKD (about $900). Also, the price of 3GS will not be reduced in the gray market.