iPhone advice from Dr. Jobs

Vaudevillian advice for iPhone 4's dropped calls doesn't stick, but this trick does

So a guy walks into the doctor’s office and says, “It hurts when I do this.” The doctor says, “Well, don’t do that.”

Those of you who reported that your shiny new Apple iPhone 4s were dropping calls whenever you held the phone a certain way probably feel like that patient in the age-old vaudeville skit. Steve Jobs, the high lord of Apple, says the answer is simply, “Well, don’t hold it like that.”

But like the poor guy at the doctor’s office, that doesn’t really fix the problem, does it? This is especially true when the danger spot happens to be in the lower left corner of the phone, exactly where most people would grip the device when either talking on it or typing into the touch pad. The problem is that the “revolutionary” antenna on the iPhone is apparently interrupted by the human hand. Some users don’t seem to get the error while others experience it all the time. We were able to reproduce it somewhat with an iPhone 4 -- touching that part of the phone halved the signal strength, though a call never dropped.

Could it have something to do with how much conductivity a person's hands have? Perhaps it could be a new party game, kind of like mood rings. If you can zap the iPhone connection with your bare hands, you’ve got the magic to be a suitable mate. The downside is that you’re almost certainly too combustible to work for the gas company.

Fast Company magazine offers a real solution that goes beyond the Apple one, which really isn’t a solution at all. They say you should add a piece of Scotch tape over the antenna. Hey, if Scotch tape works OK, we thought duct tape would be wonderful. And guess what, when we taped up the iPhone, the calls worked great, with no signal loss no matter how we held it. Can’t you just imagine all those pretentious people walking around with their expensive iPhones covered in duct tape? It’s sort of like a Lexus with wads of duct tape holding its bumper together. It’s still chic, but in a backwoods hick kind of way.

It’s a bit disingenuous for Apple to simply say “don’t do that.” They should come up with a solution to stop the problem, even if it’s issuing an official roll of Apple duct tape, complete with logos.

Why should they dictate how people use iPhones or how to hold them? In our testing, we found that by raising your right arm and holding it out at a 45 degree angle while talking creates perfect reception. If you can’t quite get it right, Jesse James can show you the way. We bet Steve Jobs won’t be encouraging people to take up this method. Perhaps he might even rise from his throne to proclaim, “Don’t do that.” Long live the king.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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