[In the latest news on the signal/contact problems, Boy Genius Report cites similar issues with some 3GS phones as evidence that the problem is a software hiccup in iOS 4, while MacRumors notes that bumper cases or other coverings for the 4 seem to resolve the problem. ArsTechnica wasn't able to reproduce the issue right-handed, but only holding the phone left-handed and with some effort. WhenWillApple has some electrical analysis that's worth a read.]
It seems Steve is happy to suggest the Mel Brooks approach to resolving the signal issue -- if we hold the phone that way, we won't need any signal boost. Tipster Rory Sinclair recounts today's email thread with the Apple CEO on his blog:
So, um, just got my iPhone 4. It's lovely and all, but this 'bridge the two antennae to kill your reception' thing seems to be a bit serious. If I bridge them with my hand or with a piece of metal the bars slowly drop to 'Searching...' and then 'No Service'.
It's kind of a worry. Is it possible this is a design flaw?
Regards - Rory Sinclair
Nope. Just don't hold it that way.
Rory pressed the issue once more, got the same response, and pressed it again, saying "Normally there aren't limits to how you hold a phone" -- finally getting this response from Steve:
Sure there are -- every phone has these areas of sensitivity, depending on the location of the antenna. Some phones even ship with labels warning customers to not cover certain areas with their hands.
Oooookay. You might think this was a non-answer answer, but it's the same one (or nearly) that reader Craig Brockman got from his email to Steve:
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.
Craig's correspondence was even confirmed by MacRumors, which was granted access to his email account and validated the message headers.
That phrasing starts to sound like Steve has turned to the marketing department for some boilerplate copy, since he may end up answering a lot of these emails over the next few weeks. In fact, Engadget and The Loop say that this particular verbiage is the company's official statement on the problem, and both sites hypothesize that the Bumper cases may alleviate the issue.
If you've got signal issues on your iPhone with your normal grip, be sure to let Apple know -- then come back here and let us know, too.