Take a good look at that bar photo above. it pretty much explains the whole issue with iPhone 4 antenna situation.
Its taken from this fantastic article http://bit.ly/cckojR and does a far better job of answering this issue than EVERYTHING else I read in the last 5 days!
What it effectively shows is that on iPhone 4, you can lose 39dB of signal, and stay on 5 bars, but lose just 14dB more, and you drop to just 1 bar!!
UPDATE: 2/7/10 Apple just released this LETTER which to my mind is still written a little bit defensively, and will doubtless set off those people who don’t own an iPhone 4, or live in such a strong signal area they will never notice it.
OK, first off, a couple of myths to deal with, IMHO.
1. There are “good” iPhone 4′s and “bad” iPhone 4′s
I do not believe this at all, in the mass produced world of these things, I believe all iPhone 4′s have this issue. It is explained however by “there are good signal areas, and there are bad signal areas”
It is also explained by the photo above, the BARS are completely wrongly scaled to make it look like oyu have stronger signal than your really do.
2. If you wiggle/remove/reinsert/put tape around/mess about with/wait 20 mins/ your SIM card this will solve your issue.
Again, sorry, do not believe it at all. When you do all of the above, your are either reconnecting with the tower, or indeed contacting a better tower.
So what is going on?
One of the strangest things about this whole situation is that many people were claiming that they simply did not have this issue at all, and even some popular podcasts this week were saying it was a non issue.
I had always said it was real, but that on the other hand, this iPhone 4 gave me better signal in some places than other phones, and from reading the above letter, I can now see that in actual fact, that may not be true at all, when this fix is pushed out, it may turn out that I have no signal at home, just like my old 3GS.
However, and this is the crux of the matter really, I don’t think that is the case, as I can at least pick the iPhone 4 up at home and make a call using O2, which I could not do with the 3GS, nor can I do so with the Nexus One.
What is quite shocking about the letter to me though is the admission that for 3 years, Apple has faked the Bars on the phone to make it look like you had more signal, or more accurately, as much signal as your old Nokia! I have always maintained that you can not beat Nokia for pure phone signal, and I think its fair to say even Nokia have made some phones lately that do not carry on the tradition and earlier phones.
Anyway, with the new information today, and my use for over a week now, I am changing my advice on buying an iPhone 4
Case A: You live in a good or excellent signal area, and rarely use your phone outside of this area.
I would say go right ahead and get an iPhone 4. Get it from Apple with a 14 day return clause and see how you get on.
Case B: You use the phone in a known area of weak signal.
I would now say that if you hold your phone in your left hand, you need to take a good look at the pictures of iPhone 4, and assure yourself that you could hold it without bridging the little black line on the left corner of the phone. Again, no real risk if you get it from Apple, check first if you are buying on contract that you have a returns period. There are various catches, such as with T-Mobile, if you use Streetcheck before you order, you can return it, if you don’t, you can’t, although UK law always allows 7 days under the Distance Selling Regs.
O2 are taking this DSR thing away from you if you buy out your current iPhone contract and update early, on the basis that they are not selling you a new item but extending service contract which does fall outside of DSR. FWIW I think they are acting illegally here, but be aware of it.
Case C: You are me
First of all, well done. I only make and receive 2/3 calls a day, and am on Wi-Fi apart from 25 mins each day.
This issue does not affect Wi-Fi, and I do like the other features of the iPhone 4.
I am perfectly capable of holding the phone in such a way as to not touch the 1cm spot in question.
You also have to remember that I have the Nexus One, and it is not perfect, but today I found out for the first time that while I can always repeat the Apple issue WITH A WEAK SIGNAL, I can not always repeat it with the same SIM in the N1. The signal does drop away when I hold it, but it usually comes back after a few seconds, unlike the iPhone 4 which stays away until you let go of the join.
Having said all of this, getting hold of an iPhone 4 is still a challenge in the UK, with O2 and Apple Stores being the best bet at this time.