Update: Left handed people rejoice! Bill alerted me that the problem may only occur for people cradling the phone in their left hand. It's true. Held in my right hand or pinched at the center of the sides by my left hand the problem is avoided. Unfortunately I'm right handed and my natural behavior is to cradle in my left hand and use my right hand to manipulate the touch screen, but still...
Original post below...
I really want to love my new iPhone, but it doesn't love me back. Its stainless steel-sided skin crawls at my touch. Count me among the many on the Internet who are reporting the similar experience of a degrading and sometimes completely degraded AT&T signal signal when you pick up the phone by its sides. You know, as it was intended to be used.
Ignore the preening schmoes who say "well, it went down to 1 bar, but I can still make a call! Maybe it's just a software glitch that incorrectly reports signal strength."
No. When it goes down to no bars and says there's no service it's not a software issue. You can't make a call. When you're using 3G and trying to connect to the Internet and it says "no Internet connection available," it's absolutely not an issue where it's a software bug that is incorrectly reporting the signal when the signal is actually fine.
Looks like I'll be getting one of these rubber bumpers for my iPhone. Believe me when I say I don't want it. My first generation iPhone that is one week short of three years old lasted 3 years without any protective covering. I guess you could say I'm anti-prophylactic when it comes to the iPhone.
I don't want it, but apparently I need it. At least if I want to be able to pick the phone up by it's sides as it was intended to be used! But I think Apple ought to give it to me. Again, I don't want to have to use it even for free, but the notion of having to pay $29 (for the official Apple version anyway) so I can use the phone as it was intended to be used is especially irksome.
Eh, who cares about phone calls. It's pretty and it's blazing fast!!
The improved screen definitely makes life easier on my old eyes. But the huge deal for me is the faster processor and the resulting speed improvement. Everything is fast. Apps load fast and run fast. Switching screens is fast. It's not just much faster than my old phone, it's really blazing.
Mostly in my current lifestyle I don't love talking on the phone much anyway and I almost always have a good WiFi connection available. So mostly, even with the problems I'm right there in the "Steve Jobs, you've outdone yourself again," camp.
It Ain't Just the Phone Reception Though; It's Data, too
But even if you're not a big phone user, the problem also impacts data usage over the 3G network, and for me, in a very big way.
I turned WiFi off and ran the Speedtest app, and if it was sitting on my coffee table I'd get 800Kb/s download speeds. But when I picked it up, I'd either get "no internet connection available" or in the 30Kb-50Kb/s download speed range. That's awful in either case. Since it's supposed to be held in your hands and not used on a coffee table or requiring you to surf the web on your thigh, that's a big issue.
Is it just a hardware glitch that only effects some people? Perhaps. I find it pretty hard to believe that none of the reviews I read correlated signal strength degradation with touching the phone by its sides as God and Steve Jobs intended it be used. So maybe I'm just one (of perhaps many) who received a defective unit.
On the other hand it's possible that building the antenna into the stainless steel siding in the hopes of actually improving reception was a dumbass design to begin with. I'll leave it to the engineers among you to decide.
Is it possible it's something that can be fixed with a software upgrade? I sure hope so.
Should I really have to pay $29 to use the phone the way it was intended to be used?
Did I mention that it's blazing fast and that it's very easy to read small print even for my old, far-sighted eyes?
Don't get any idea that this is just a problem for the oily-skinned, just-ate-a-blueberry-pie with my hands set who live in the Delta where the humidity is 100%. I washed and dried my hands thoroughly and I live in California and the current humidity is only around 50%.