The iPhone 4 Grip of Death

I just picked up my iPhone 4 this morning (at the second time of asking, but that's another story).

I had heard that some people were experiencing problems with the exposed antennae on the iPhone 4 and that it was causing a loss of signal strength. I didn't have to work very hard to spot the problem on my phone.

Here's a video demonstrating the iPhone 4 Grip of Death:

This problem isn't confined to people who are left handed. Any right-hander needs to cradle the device in their left to use it for any kind of multi-touch gesture, such as pinching on maps or photos.

There's a question as to whether this is an actual signal degradation problem or simply a problem with sensing and displaying the signal. I shot a second video to demonstrate that the signal is not just being attenuated but almost entirely disrupted.

Here's my procedure:

  1. Disable WiFi
  2. Hold the phone in the 'fingertip grip', observe 4-5 bars of 3G.
  3. Launch TuneIn radio.
  4. Buffer and play a channel.
  5. Switch to the Death Grip.
  6. Observe signal falling to 1 bar.
  7. TuneIn streaming stops dead when it runs out of buffered data.

For all the supposed design refinement of the iPhone 4, this is a near-showstopper. It's very surprising that the device shipped with this kind of flaw. If the fix is to add Apple's £29 rubber bumper on top of this £600 device, that will be a very poor show indeed.

As John Gruber questioned, I don't know whether this is a problem with all iPhones and some people's hands or some phones and everyone's hands. My sister also has an iPhone 4 and is experiencing the same thing.

There has also been some speculation that it could be to do with moisture. I know everyone's skin carries moisture but, as skin types go, I have particularly dry skin. Just one data point, but that's what I have.