There's a huge media fuss about a potential failing of the iPhone 4's clever antenna design, with folks concerned it spells radio-drop-out call doom for the phone. We remain to be convinced. But here's a $0.001 DIY fix anyway.
There are three important caveats to this post, as the jury is still out on the real-life effects concerned (seriously, despite the many opinions):
- This "problem" has yet to be proven. As yet it's just what appears to be an issue. The iPhone 4 needs to demonstrate significantly more dropped calls, missed calls or reduced data transmission per user-hour than the average cell phone (used under similar conditions on the same network) for it to be a real-life problem, and not an effect that's incorrectly emphasized by the iPhone 4's radio status bars, and enhanced by people's worries.
- Are the apparent radio reception changes caused by holding it being seen by every user?
- Is every iPhone 4 affected?
If you're a user who feels they're suffering from difficulties connecting to the nearest cell phone mast with your iPhone 4, then one theory--which has been given a degree of credence by official communications from Apple, including Steve Jobs himself--is that it's because your hand is covering the GSM and Wi-fi antenna joint when you hold it. Your slightly electrically conducting skin is bridging the slim insulating wedge of plastic that splits the phone's frame at this point.
So here's the fix.
- Get about an inch of scotch tape off the reel (that's Sellotape if you're in the U.K.).
- Cut it carefully so that you make a rectangle something over a half-inch long and just tall enough to exceed the iPhone 4's height (about 0.4 inches should do it).
- Align the piece of tape so that it's covering a section of the lower left metal side of the iPhone 4, some below the thin black plastic line and some above.
- Stick it around the phone's metal edge, making sure that all of the back of the edge's metal strip is covered--you may even be able to leave the front uncovered, as it's the back where your hand will rest. The main thing is to ensure that it's unlikely that your palm will touch the metal on both sides of the black plastic line.
Result: Your iPhone 4's twin antennas are now insulated against skin short-circuiting in the "problem corner". You don't even have to use scotch tape--make a statement and do it in bright red electrician's tape, if you feel better for it. It's also exactly what Apple's "bumper" case, and probably every other iPhone 4 case too, will do--so you don't need to worry with the fix if you're an iPhone case fan.
If this really does prove to be a performance-inhibiting flaw (and probably even if it isn't) we'd be surprised if companies like GelaSkins, who already make stick-on anti-scratch protective backs for a huge range of cellphones, don't make ones for the iPhone 4 with a discrete little tab that stretches over the gap to do exactly this job.
To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.