iPhone 4 Problems

As I weigh up the Pro’s and Con’s of finally taking the plunge into buying an iPhone 4, I have produced a list of the main known problems I have come across over the web, with the iPhone 4, to help tighten those purse strings of mine to make me hold off from purchasing the iPhone 4. Some of these problems are well known, others are less so.

  • Antenna Problems

Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying four or five bars. CNET has found that touching the antenna gap on the iPhone 4’s lower left side causes call quality to degrade.

But with the new iOS 4.0.1 patch the theory now is that, once the patch update has been applied, iPhone’s bars will report signal strength “far more accurately” providing users a better indication of the reception in a given area. However this still doesn’t solve the problem of drop in signal when holding the iPhone 4 in a certain way, they are now issuing free rubber bumper cases that helps cover the spot where the phone’s two antennas meet. Until there’s a full re-design of where to re-position the antena, this will be the fix for now.

  • Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor issue is perhaps the biggest real-world problem facing the iPhone 4. Despite the brouhaha about Antennagate, the proximity issue perhaps affects more people in day-to-day use. While not affecting all iPhone 4 users, problems with the proximity sensor has been the source of widespread complaints. The proximity sensor is what the iPhone uses to turn off the display and touch input when the user holds the device to the ear for phone calls. Reports suggest that the redesigned sensor incorrectly judges distances, especially when the sensor shines directly inside the user’s ear. In some cases, the sensor doesn’t deactivate the display, or will repeatedly switch it on and off. In this case, your ear pressing against the display could be interpreted as touch input that ends up accidentally muting, switching, or ending a call. In other cases, it fails to reactivate the touchscreen after moving the device away from your head.

Gizmodo is also reporting that the iOS 4 beta 2 seems to fix the proximity issue. Again, I stress that the issue SEEMS to be fixed: all we have are a couple of anecdotal reports.

  • Yellow Discolouration

There’s a problem with the iPhone 4’s Retina displays: Some screens have a yellow tint across the surface. 55 cases and counting. In some, it’s a yellow band. In others, yellow spots.

This one does seem to be a rare problem, it’s actually caused by the glue between the screen layers not evaporating entirely, this goes to show that Foxconn has been rushing production in order to meet Apple’s demands. In most cases people have said that the yellow stains on their screens disapear after a while.

  • HSPA upload speed issues

A bug limited the upload speeds using HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) to about 50-100 kilobits per second — 15 times slower that the maximum possible speeds. Only HSUPA is affected by the problem; download speeds are not affected. I had the issue before beta 2 and it now appears fixed.

Although, this seems to be just an American problem with the AT&T service provider putting a cap on upload speeds. However reports say the iOS 4 beta 2 also seems to fix the HSUPA upload speed issues.

  • Fragile Screens

I have noticed, there does seem to be a design flaw in the design of the iPhone 4, land it flat on the ground, and it will smash. this is because on the new iPhone, the glass basically sits on top of the aluminum frame, while on the older iphones, it was recessed and protected by a chrome bezel.

But this problem is easily fixed, just DON’T DROP IT!! But being serious again, the free bumper issued by Apple helps solve this by protruding the face and back of the iPhone by a couple of millimetres, that will protect it if you drop it flat or on it’s side. Or if you are still worried about scratching the surface or back of your iPhone, there are plenty of wrap around cases, although these can set you back £30.

  • Camera Shutter

The picture-taking camera app on the iPhone features a virtual shutter which opens and closes. Except, it’s not opening. Multiple users have reported to various outlets that their virtual shutters are stuck. These freezes up the whole iPhone, and none of the buttons response. Users are forced to do a hard reset of the phone to get out of the freeze. Allegedly, even apps that use the camera, like Facebook (which lets you post directly to your Facebook profile).

So far, I haven’t been able to find if there’s been a fix to this in the latest patch, or if there will be one.

  • Swapped Sound Buttons

To end this depressing list, there have been a few reports of iPhone 4 handsets that have their volume buttons reversed. Although placed in the wrong spot, the buttons work as they’re supposed to: the “–“ will increase the volume while “+” will decrease it.

I assume this is just a minor problem and not that many units will have the volume buttons reversed. But it’s still a problem that could have been avoided by the manufacturers.



Josh is a multidsicplinary designer who has a love for creativity and design. He enjoys learning and experimenting in all areas of design. Please feel free to follow Josh on Twitter

  • iPhone 4 proximity sensor

    I made a little video on youtube to show the problem. Its definitely a design issue. Hopefully they can tune the software to shut the screen off or make it more sensitive to you being further away from the phone before the keypad comes on. Sorry if im rambling a bit, didnt have time to adjust much on it..and i shot it on a tripod.
    iPhone 4 proximity sensor

  • Thanks for stopping by and for the info!