Home / News / Mobile Phone News / iPhone 4 Day One Screen & Reception Issues Mount

iPhone 4 Day One Screen & Reception Issues Mount

Gordon Kelly


iPhone 4 Day One Screen & Reception Issues Mount

I know, two iPhone 4 stories on launch day - sacrilege! Still if you're the kind of reader who gets annoyed at Apple you should enjoy this one...

It seems Steve Jobs' shiny new bundle of joy is facing teething problems as MacRumors' reports a number of owners have received handsets with blocks of yellow tint in the much proclaimed Retina Display. On top of this iPhone 4 owners have also contacted Gizmodo to say there appears to be a serious design flaw in the phone whereby carrier signal falls when it is held - oops.

The first issue is nothing new to Apple as the 27in iMac also suffered from yellow tint problems on its initial run (Foxconn really should stop playing Simpsons' paintball on the factory floor). Those were cleared up and I suspect they will be here too.

Far more concerning is what appears to be a fundamental design flaw in the iPhone 4's supposedly revolutionary external antenna system which sees reception fail when the handset is held along the sides.

The video above is pretty convincing and many more of since followed from other users. The video below shows call quality is unaffected by the apparent signal drop so we may simply be dealing with a glitch in how the reception strength is reported.

Walk Mossberg did touch upon something similar in his iPhone 4 review when he said "in some places where the signal was relatively weak, the iPhone 4 showed no bars, or fewer bars than its predecessor. Apple says that this is a bug it plans to fix, and that it has to do with the way the bars are presented, not the actual ability to make a call. And, in fact, in nearly all of these cases, the iPhone 4 was able to place calls despite the lack of bars." In fairness though, this isn't exactly the same thing as we're seeing reported today.

Let's hope this all blows over, especially by the time mine arrives later today.


MacRumors Forums

Gizmodo Yellow Tint Image Source

Gizmodo Reception Issue


June 24, 2010, 11:09 am

yellow screens eh? they had this farce with the Santa Rosa macbook pro's way back in 2007 as well. i was lucky and got a pretty good one (screen has been changed 3 times since then due to other issues and is now perfect) and it wasnt too yellow.... nothing that a new monitor profile couldnt see to. apparently the yellowing was to do with some coating they put on the glossy displays?

still, though i am an apple fan, i think this just goes to show that if you are an early adopter you pay the price with apple. (with any new piece of tech really). the best thing to do is simply add on 2-3 months to their launch dates and then consider that the actual launch date. by then you'd hope every handset was flawless.


June 24, 2010, 11:36 am

Well, I turned up at O2 in Hull @7am, only to be turned away as the total sum of 30 iPhones had already been allocated. 30 iPhones for the whole of Hull, looks like the usual farse with stocking up, after reading this story might be a good thing to wait anyhow.


June 24, 2010, 12:09 pm

I'm waiting at work right now for mine to be delivered. I will certainly be less than impressed if the much-hyped 'retina' screen is tainted with yellow sploges on it, and it will be straight back to Apple.

Much of what Apple delivers is an enhanced user experience. A broken screen and basics such as the signal dropping out when you pick it up are signs that this product is being released un-finished and without suitable quality control.

I'm actually a little bit nervous waiting now, to see if I get a 'good one'. That sort of expectation is not what I'd expect when laying out £599...


June 24, 2010, 12:09 pm

Saw these two issues over at Macrumours, very amused that the forums there are accuratly following the apple product cycle and are at the following stage:

"A minor, rarely occurring flaw in the device begins to be discussed in the Apple support forums. Whiny, artistic types post lengthy diatribes about how this terrible design flaw has made the device unusable and scarred them emotionally. Electronic petitions are created demanding that Apple replace the devices for free, plus pay for counseling to help traumatized users overcome their emotional distress."


Unfortunatly flaws with screens like this happen, and I would guess its just because of the high profile of the IPhone that these few dodgy ones have been highlighted! The signal issue is funny tho, but as mentioned as the iPhone can still call even when the phone has no bars would suggest its actually the phone getting confused rather than losing the signal.

Im still counting my pennies to see if I can afford one sim free desite these comments (if i sell my phone and iPod touch)


June 24, 2010, 12:42 pm

I like the comment that the iPhone 4 can become confused...


June 24, 2010, 1:44 pm

I await further testing with interest. I have no intention of buying out my 3GS contract but better reception (inc GPS?) would seem like one of the main features to make a 3GS owner upgrade.


June 24, 2010, 3:02 pm



June 24, 2010, 3:29 pm

And you *know* you can trust that Apple-loathing Mossberg.


June 24, 2010, 3:38 pm

Can people that have got their iPhones today please post their experiences (or hopefully - lack of) with these issues.

I'm waiting a bit longer for mine yet, so plenty of time to keep my 3G if there is any real risk :-)


June 24, 2010, 3:42 pm

If the signal issue is a software bug, how on earth was it not picked up in testing? Considering people have been wondering around with them for months (and leaving them in bars).


June 24, 2010, 4:15 pm

@Stelph - the dear American Apple fans; such a delicate and litigious bunch. Blessed are the meek... ;)

I bet the signal 'issue' isn't an issue at all. More a design failure. If you put your GSM aerial on the side of a phone instead of the back and top, your hand will impede the signal, and the phone will then have to ramp up the RF output. This is from the ministry of the bleedin' obvious and i'm not surprised some people are experiencing this.

I'm sure that Apple will massage the algorithms that interpret signal strength in a FW update to show more bars in weak signal scenarios, but the issue will still be there when hand holding the phone in weak signal areas. Although in Mossberg's review he said that he was noticing, on occasions, a lower signal on the 4G than the 3G when driving around, which I presume wasn't being held at the time. Woops.


June 24, 2010, 4:40 pm

Couldn't make a call before. Can't make a call now. What's your problem, Gordon?

A Scotland

June 24, 2010, 4:52 pm

presumably everywhere is sold out already? The central London O2 stores all seem to be out of stock. Anyone know any different?


June 24, 2010, 4:57 pm

I managed to get hold of a 32GB model this morning (very early start).

Havent got any of the screen issues, but there is a major drop in the reception bars when you hold the device in your left hand so that the two left side antenas are bridged by your palm. Now I don't know if this affects signal quality or its "just getting confused" but the following happend

On desk it shows 5 bars (3G)

Hold in right hand and it drops to 3 bars (3G) in about 5 secs

Put in left hand and it dropped to 1 bar (3G) again in about 5 secs and then dropped to 1 bar on GSM (small circle)!!!! not even edge!!!

What worries me is the fact it dropped from 3G into 1 bar on GSM (small circle)


June 24, 2010, 5:15 pm

I guess those testers were wrapped up in 'bumpers' or super cases so that nobody could notice they were iphone 4 but assuming another 1g/3g/3gs..

so it's not human hand, no problem with reception?


June 24, 2010, 5:21 pm

@Goldenguy - I'd love to tell you, but in a frustrating twist I switched to Vodafone today and O2 has cancelled my sim before Vodafone has activated its sim! So currently cannot make calls despite being knee deep in iPhones *insert obvious joke here*

Pendejo Sin Nombre

June 24, 2010, 5:21 pm

According to someone on AppleInsider, I quote -


'Apple is using a bonding agent called Organofunctional Silane Z-6011 to bond the layers of glass. Apparently, Apple (or more likely Foxconn) is shipping these products so quickly that the evaporation process is not complete. However, after one or two days of use, especially with the screen on, will complete the evaporation process and the yellow "blotches" will disappear.

How do I know? I was involved in pitching Z-6011 to Apple.'


I guess we'll see.


June 24, 2010, 6:18 pm

@Gordon: If it's any consolation, an Apple Hater is currently holding an iPhone4 with an activated Vodafone sim. How do you think I feel? :-P


June 24, 2010, 6:25 pm

wow... z-6011, the future is here. O.o

it now confirms that it's not a software problem, it actually drops calls when holding left-handed.

Bless, I havn't spent anything on getting a new iphone. Now I'll think twice. Droid x, anyone?


June 24, 2010, 6:54 pm


I'm sorry. (I confess I'm laughing but only because I know your iPhone adventures will soon resemble a tech journalist's version of 'A Serious Man'.)


June 24, 2010, 7:10 pm

@drdark @GoldenGuy in business now on 3GS, but waiting for micro SIM which will arrive tomorrow. Been v impressed with Vodafone though, uses Twitter very well and gives specific names for your customer support contacts so you keep dealing with the same person.


June 24, 2010, 8:32 pm

i dont like vodafone, dunno why, its jsut something about their logo (or old one havent looked recently)

thanks Tony, it has confirmed my suspicions that Steve Jobs and Apple by extension are prejudiced against me and my left-handed bretheren. I will protest immediately! But seriously if thats common that would suck for me, I can hold a phone in my right hand and feel comfortable for more than 5 seconds :/


June 24, 2010, 9:27 pm

I got my iPhone 4 today after realising that a friend of mines husband was a store manager at a large phone shop ( he put one aside for me). I couldnt be happier. Although it hasnt come in for any heavy duty usage as yet, it really is a joy to behold and much faster and rtesponsive than the 3G that I sold a few weeks ago. There are no issues with the screen and the ibooks is a joy to use. The tesco tariff is increadibly reasonable and after a year (12 month contract) I shall sell see whats about.

No problems from me. Quick, responsive, neat, sturdy and functional (for me) thats all I ask.

Joseph Middleton

June 25, 2010, 12:30 am

I don't feel sorry for any of you!

I woke up at 6AM and got to my local Apple Store in Cardiff, waited until 9 and then told that people who didn't preorder could only buy 32GB models. (I couldn't afford one) so I walked home empty handed.

Shame, would have been my first launch day purchase. Instead, I have a Canon 500D on the way to drown my sorrows and shall save up again for the next wave of them in July.



June 25, 2010, 12:46 am


Call quality/signal strength good too?

comments powered by Disqus