∞ Moisture from your fingers could be causing iPhone 4 antenna issues

Update: Apple offers advice for iPhone 4 antenna issues 5:48 pm PT

There have been a lot of reports from users of Apple’s new iPhone 4 that the antenna suddenly drops when you hold it in your hands, but nobody has been able to nail down the cause yet. I talked to a number of people this morning familiar with the iPhone 4 development and said much of the testing of the iPhone 4 was done with the device in a case to disguise it. Think back to Gray Powell’s iPhone 4 and the fact it was found in a case that made it look like it was a regular iPhone.

This may have hidden the cause of the antenna problems from engineers. The fact that Apple’s campus is fitted with repeaters for wireless service, also helped blocked what could be the cause for the problem.

According to people I’ve spoken with, it could be that moisture from your fingers is causing the iPhone 4 to believe that the antenna is receiving interference and losing its wireless signal.

This is why the iPhone 4 Bumpers seem to work so well. I’ve talked to quite a few people in the last 24 hours to get a better feel for who is experiencing this problem and it here’s what I found.

Nobody that is using the Bumpers is having the dropped bars for AT&T’s signal, while those that opted to not purchase the Bumpers are. I also haven’t spoken to anyone that actually dropped a call from this phenomenon, although I’m sure there are plenty that have.

  • Jerry Pirrung

    This would make the bumpers a required part of the iPhone 4, rather than an optional accessory. They should therefore be included in the price of the phone.

  • Here’s an extremely crappy video I shot at lunch that shows the signal loss.


    I wasn’t even cupping the phone …simply putting my thumb over the little black band so my skin connected the two antennas.

    • Oh, and since this is such a prevalent issue, I’m wondering if Apple simply doesn’t start giving away their bumpers to help resolve the issue. Seems like it’s either that, or a giant recall?

      • Jim Dalrymple

        I doubt either of those will happen.

  • According to OWC’s blog, it has to do with your hand bridging the two antennas (separated by a small bit of plastic near the lower-left corner of the iPhone 4.)

    They mention that pretty much any plastic, silicone, or rubber case should cure it.

    At least seems plausible to me.


    • Thanks for the link …much better video than mine, with the same conclusion.

  • Peter Cohen

    “They should therefore be included in the price of the phone.”

    That’s a band-aid solution. They should fix the damn phone.

  • ATB

    I don’t think it’s moisture. I think it’s closing the circuit generated by the antenna; also, switching to EDGE seems to obviate the problem:


    so it could be that the the way the antenna is used is different for different network types.

  • John C

    Getting the problem on my handset 🙁

  • illiterate monk

    The case does certainly solve the issue, but I’m not sure that the moisture is the issue. I’ve tested in various states of hand cleanliness and dryness and replicated the issue no matter the state of my hands. The bridge between the two antennae is the vital condition–any time it is connected by exposed skin the signal drops: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o9yl9mO3cQ

    • People are mostly water to begin with. No extra water needed.

  • Alice

    I could see it. I find if my hands are completely dry I cannot reproduce the problem. They have to be at least a little bit clammy.

    I haven’t found that it is an issue as it doesn’t make me lose connection, and I do have to try to reproduce the problem. In the end, I’ve decided it hasn’t seemed to really affect me and I’m not sure I would have noticed if there wasn’t so much press about it. Maybe I just live where there is good coverage.

    And honestly, I don’t want to use my phone with a bumper. Apple should though maybe start implementing a clear coat over the sides to prevent this. Won’t ruin the looks or size of the phone (for those of us who like the clean look and like it to be as small as possible) and if it is cause of moisture or something connecting the antennas it would solve that problem.