How to Fix iPhone 4 Antenna Problems

Try these workarounds to avoid iPhone 4 antenna problems

During the heyday of the iPhone 4, many users complained of problems with the antenna. These issues weren't universal but were enough to create a controversy known as Antennagate. In this guide, we cover the nature of those problems and how to fix them.

All models of the iPhone since the iPhone 4 have differently designed antennas. The call-dropping problems related to the antenna design have not occurred since.

iPhone 4
Ramin Talaie / Corbis Historical / Getty Images

Causes of iPhone 4 Antenna Problems

Not long after the release of the iPhone 4, some users found that the phone dropped calls more often and had a harder time with signal reception than other iPhone models. Apple eventually determined that there was a problem with the design of the phone's antenna. 

The iPhone 4 had a longer antenna than earlier models. In order to fit the longer antenna without making the phone larger, Apple threaded the antenna throughout the phone, including exposing it on the bottom outer edges of the device. This created a problem known as bridging the antenna. This occurs when a hand or finger covers the antenna area on the side of the iPhone. Interference between the human body and the circuit of the antenna can cause the iPhone 4 to lose signal strength.

Not every iPhone 4 suffered from this problem, and plenty of other phones experienced the same problem. Lots of competing smartphones suffered drops in reception and signal strength if users placed their hands where the phones' antennas were located.

The severity of the drop in coverage depends on location. In an area with full coverage, you'll see some decrease in signal strength, but not usually enough to drop a call or interrupt a data connection. However, in a location with weaker coverage, the drop in signal strength may be enough to cause a call to end or to prevent a data connection.

To get a sense of the full scope of the hit-or-miss nature of the problem, check out Engadget's comprehensive post surveying two dozen technical writers about their experiences.

How to Fix the iPhone 4 Antenna Problems

If you have an iPhone 4 and experience a lot of dropped calls, there are a few options available to you. Try any one of these solutions to fix your iPhone 4 antenna problems.

  1. Avoid bridging the antenna. Don't place your finger or hand over the antenna on the bottom of the device while placing or receiving a call.

  2. Cover the lower-left side antenna with a piece of thick tape or duct tape to prevent the contact.

  3. Get a case that covers the antenna and prevents your body from coming into contact with it. Apple used to offer a program that offered such cases for free to iPhone 4 owners, but it is no longer active.

Besides this antenna problem, Apple has experienced a number of controversies over the years. If you're curious, find out about these biggest controversies in iPhone history.