iPhone 4 doesn’t like being touched by human hand

Reports on The Register & BBC websites suggest that early adopters of the latest iPhone 4 are having trouble with signal strength if they hold their phones.

The phones appear to suffer big drops in signal strength when held by human hand. Apparently, a small metal band on the outside of the chassis acts as the antenna – in most other phones that part is internal.

This might have something to do with skin resistance, as using a leather or plastic case seems to mitigate the effect. Previous versions of the iPhone didn’t use external metal parts of the case as an antenna – the antennas were inside behind plastic panels in the otherwise metal chassis.

Others have suggested that touching the iPhone 4 shorts the WiFi & 3G radio parts somehow – we don’t think so … it’s much more likely that your body is acting like a signal sink, try wearing rubber gloves… You’ll find big differences in natural skin conductivity between different people – if I touch a badly earthed piece of electrical equipment I can feel a buzzing where some others can’t. I’ll be surprised if this problem is fixed by a software upgrade!

The simple act of holding the phone appears to cause the user to absorb maybe half of the RF power output of the phone. Using it hands-free causes no such problem. Maybe Apple are trying to get us all to use phones several feet away from our heads – a highly commendable goal!

Others are moaning that the screens scratch easily and that edges of the screen suffer discolouration, allegedly.

Article from The Register

Article from the BBC

Pictures of queues for iPhone V4 in London.
(Reminds me of when Windows 95 launched… so very, very, long ago…)

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