When unveiling the iPhone 4 in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs marveled at the "gorgeous" stainless steel casing that surrounds the device and also serves as the phone's antennas. In addition to helping make the phone ultra-thin, the external antenna was supposed to improve the phone's signal strength over previous iPhone models.
He was right: Tests show that the iPhone 4's network connectivity has been significantly enhanced -- just as long as you don't hold the phone in your left hand.
Bridging the gap between the two antennas (which appears on the bottom left side of the phone) with an electrically conductive material -- like, say, your skin -- has the effect of reducing the phone's signal strength dramatically. The effect was so severe that Consumer Reports refused to recommend
the iPhone 4 until Apple issues a free fix.
How big is the problem? Most users say they have no trouble minding the gap and are thrilled with the phone's reception. But those in low-signal areas, or who frequently hold the phone in a way that triggers the glitch, have been vocal about their frustration. Their ad-hoc, low-cost fixes include rubber bands and duct tape
Four days after Consumer Reports' damning review, Apple gave in to mounting pressure and announced that it would give a free iPhone 4 case
to all buyers until Sept. 30. The company offered to refund buyers who had already purchased a case from Apple.NEXT: Signal bars: The 'surprising' glitch