12 people share their iPhone 4 Death Grip stories
Betanews readers have responded to my earlier-in-the day question -- "Are you caught in the iPhone 4 Death Grip?" -- with surprising answers. Some of you are having reception problems, and many others are not. Granted this is an unscientific survey, but several trends are still clear:
1. The reception problems aren't as widespread as blogs and news stories suggest.
2. Most people reporting "death grip" are only seeing problems in weak signal areas.
3. AT&T is not to blame. Subscribers on other cellular networks report problems.
4. Apple has promised to replace some buyers' iPhone 4s; some people already have new handsets.
5. Some people with replacement phones are still afflicted by Death Grip.
6. Most afflicted users are upset about paying $29 for Apple "Bumper" guards to fix reception problems.
I would like to thank everyone who responded, and I got the best responses by e-mail. They will be the ones used in this post; I culled none from direct comments to the Death Grip question story. Unfortunately, I got so many responses not all can be used. However, I used all but one of the "no problem here" responses.
Petio Mihaylov: "No such problems on my end. In fact, I've never had 5 bars on any of my cell phones in San Francisco. I can hold the iPhone 4 any which way, with both hands clasping it, holding it, the service remains." Mihaylov has the 32GB iPhone 4.
I noticed this problem immediately after I activated my phone; it could not hold the signal in my house where usually I get decent AT&T coverage. However, I know that this issue only occurs where there is not excellent coverage. At work, I receive great coverage and I cannot replicate the problem; the phone doesn't lose the signal even if I cover it with my two hands. At the local Apple store, we get great AT&T coverage as well and the issue cannot be replicated on my iPhone or any of the display iPhones at the store. At home, I get decent coverage, yet it's not the best, so the iPhone lose the signal whenever I touch the seam on the lower left side of the phone. During the weekend, I had the chance to test the phone in different parts of the city, I live in Cincinnati, we have very good AT&T coverage, but the antenna issue on the iPhone does not occur everywhere, only where the signal is weaker.
Juan Cascardo: "I had the phone four day[s] -- no problems at all. Battery life [is] much better." Cascardo, who lives in New Jersey near New York City, has the 32GB iPhone 4.
I have experienced total signal loss on my phone and poor reception. I can easily replicate the problem shown on YouTube and it does not have to be in some kind of cat's cradle holding position. Simply holding the phone in landscape or holding it on both sides during texting can result in text messages not being sent having picked up the phone with what looks like full reception (all bars). I am awaiting this new software fix before I start to go nuts but I have filled in a petition for free Bumpers. http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/fixouriphone4/ and I would urge others to do the same or fill in some other petition.
Cable, who has a 32GB iPhone 4, lives in Oxford, England. That's one confirmation the connectivity problems aren't specific to AT&T's network.
Justin Kydd: "So far I've had very few problems, I've been able to replicate the death grip some places and not others. At home works fine, at work signal drops but call and media are unaffected. Overall I don't seem to have the DG issue. As I type [and] send this I'm on my IP4 holding it in my left hand in the Death Grip and no issues." Kydd lives about 20 miles south of Stockton, Calif.; he has the 16GB iPhone 4.
I was one of the lucky ones to have pre-ordered online prior to the crash. I actually received it Wednesday [June 23], a day early as well. While playing around with it I kept dropping signal. Mind you I was holding it while surfing and testing various apps. This is when I first noticed that I was constantly dropping off. I thought it was just a defective phone and had no idea the extent of the problem until the next day -- and it was all over the media.
I called support, to no avail. I was directed to Apple Store and there was told to hold it differently or invest $29 in a bumper. Let me just say that it is ridiculous to tell someone to hold their phone differently to get it to function as a phone. Or that you have to invest even further in your newly acquired phone to actually get [it] to 'work as a phone'. They're not giving the bumpers away??!?!?
I love my iPhone and have had them since original launch. However, I will be returning this as are my friends. Our aim is to send a message that this is unacceptable. Especially being told it is our fault for holding our phones incorrectly.
Case closed his e-mail with "Ex iPhone user," so I asked to what smartphone he might switch. He replied: "I've owned every iPhone model -- last used was 3Gs. I will most [likely] go with HTC Aria model. I do not like Verizon. I have called Apple since my Genius Bar visit and made my intentions known: Simply fix the problem or replace the phone within the next 10 days or I am returning it."
Ben Herrera: "I have had zero problems with the reception on my new phone. I do have a frogz case on it. In fact I got horrible reception in my home with the original I phone but now I get full strength."
The first [problem] is a continual 'no SIM installed' message, which requires me to turn Airplane Mode on, then off or worse to reboot the phone to get service back. Basically every time I put the phone down and come back to it, the screen says 'no SIM installed'. I have taken the phone to AT&T and had a new SIM installed. Still happened. I worked with Apple support and restored and reloaded the iOS 4 software to fix the issue, but shortly thereafter started again; returned phone to Apple today, and they gave me a new phone no questions asked, which tells me they are aware of some manufacturing defect with either the phone, the SIM tray or the SIMs themselves...
As for the Death Grip, it only seems to happen to me when I am in less than optimal signal areas -- frustrating for me as I am left-handed and hold the phone to my left ear...I find the comment that customers should just buy a $30 bumper to fix the issue the height of arrogance, not even considering $30 for a cover that is essentially only covering about 10 percent of the device. Toyotas had a accelerator design flaw, they didn't charge customers 10 percent of the MSRP to fix the issue; they recalled the cars and fixed them. Apple should step up and do the right thing and include the bumpers, give an iTunes gift card to those that already purchased them or do something to make people whole. I was considering switching from PC to Mac but have definitely put that off given my most recent experiences with the phone in particular and Apple in general.
I've found the Death Grip corresponds to the 'searching' icon -- the spinning icon that appears next to '3G' when it's looking for reception. As long as that is spinning, no data seems to come in or out. If I'm trying to make a call, it fails. If I'm on a call, it drops. If I'm trying to open a Website, it can't access the internet. Even if I just grip momentarily, it can take 30 seconds to a minute before functionality returns. During this time, reception will generally still show bars (but nothing will work). I've tried turning off 3G and wireless, and the problem persists, which shows that problem is definitely antenna-related...FYI, I'm located in Los Angeles.
I have the issue, it is most noticeable when on 3G data connections when latency goes up and throughput goes way down. Holding the phone drops enough bars that I called Apple an hour after I got the phone (a day early on Wed) and they are supposed to be sending a replacement. If I think back to the old dial-up days when modems would sometimes 'step down' into a death-spiral, I can see where a software fix might do it. We'll see I guess.
I'm in the UK on the O2 network, I queued up from 5.30 a.m. launch day
and being tenth in line got the wonderful iPhone 4. I don't have the reported yellow screen, and I have no issues with the proximity sensor as reported by some. I do however have the signal issue! Just putting a finger tip over the black bar bottom left side will reduce me from full 5 bar 3G signal to a 1 bar Edge one!! When on a call I hold phone in a good way so I'm ok there, out and about though and using Facebook or Twitter, emailing and browsing I'd hold in the left and type with the right, and, hey, look, a very low signal!!...
I'm actually considering ditching iPhone altogether; I have about another week to decide, or just request a new phone and hope I get a good one?? I probably will buy a Bumper, just hate the fact that to make it work anyway I hold it I have to buy a Bumper!!...Really don't want to give up the iPhone, will hold out for replacement unit, or if I'm really not happy then I don't know, Samsung Galaxy S?? Thing is like a lot of iPhoners upgrading I have accessories and apps; they represent a financial investment I'll be loathed to give up!!
Abigail Johnson: "All of a sudden, our Bluetooth devices don't pair at all or well with our iPhone 3Gs' which have been upgraded to iPhone 4 software." Interesting, since I've been having Bluetooth problems on iPhone 4. If Johnson sees problems on last-gen model with iOS 4, perhaps Apple can fix by tweaking software.