Though the iPhone 4 is flying off store shelves in the United States, the device is already gathering complaints from early buyers.
Apple's latest phone hit stores in the US yesterday to lines of people — some who were waiting six hours to buy one. However, almost as soon as the device arrived on the doorsteps of customers who placed early pre-orders came reports of reception problems, discoloured spots on the screen, easily scratched exteriors and issues with third-party accessory connections.
The most prominent complaint on Thursday was customers noticing that touching the seams of the antenna band running around the iPhone 4 — particularly when holding the device in their bare left hand — interrupts reception, slowly causing the phone to lose its signal.
Some iPhone 4 owners may find they strangle 3G reception after a minute or so if their hands are positioned touching the bottom bar and the side bar of the phone. Others are having trouble re-creating the problem, but it appears to vary by device, person and location.
Boy Genius Report posted a YouTube video on Thursday afternoon that showed the problem might be software-related. The person who posted the video was able to re-create the signal loss while gripping an iPhone 3G upgraded to iOS 4.
It's been suggested that using the rubber bumper case that Apple sells separately for US$29 is solving the problem because it prevents a user's fingers from coming in contact with the antenna band. It's unclear if this is why Apple for the first time decided to make its own case. The company has previously left that up to third-party manufacturers.
Apple has not responded to requests for comment.
This isn't the first time reception problems have followed soon after an iPhone's initial release. In 2008, a month after the iPhone 3G debuted, reports poured in that the device would randomly switch between AT&T's 3G and EDGE networks, and that signal bars on the phone would appear to disappear even though reception remained.
It turned out to have nothing to do with the hardware, but was a software glitch, which Apple fixed with an update about two months later.
Although antenna issues weren't the only complaints about the iPhone 4. By Wednesday afternoon Gizmodo and MacRumors had reports from more than 20 people with a brand new iPhone 4 who said there was a yellow discoloured area on the screen, or an overall yellow hue to the display even after adjusting the phone's display settings.
The iPhone 4 also scratches easily, according to reports. On Wednesday, Engadget released photos of a five-day-old demo unit with some very discernible scratches on the back side of the iPhone 4. That's despite Apple's claims that the new iPhone has hardened glass on both the front and back because it's better at resisting scratches.
Some Bluetooth accessories made by third-party manufacturers appear to be working inconsistently with the iPhone 4. Certain Bluetooth headsets are pairing as normal with the iPhone, while others seem to require an extra step to get music or podcast playback over Bluetooth.
Apple support forums are also filling with reports from users whose new iPhone 4s are not connecting properly with their car stereo adapters that worked fine for previous model iPhones.