After enjoying my time with my iPhone 3GS, it was damaged after I got caught in a storm. I could have gotten another one, but the iPhone 4 just came out, so I decided to buy the upgraded version with the help of a relative who had connections. I paid $299 for the 32GB model because I had a previous iPhone. My two-year contract included paying $25 a month for 2 gigabytes of data.
The iPhone 4 was thinner than my previous iPhone and seemed to stand up better to scratches. For the most part, it operated the same way that my iPhone 3GS did. Its upgraded camera functionality was great, but I didn’t get a chance to play with it much before I gave it up.

Soon after getting my new iPhone, I discovered it lost signal a lot while I was at home, which almost never happened with my previous iPhone. I searched online to find out if this was a known problem, and other users’ blog posts confirmed that the issue I was having with my phone wasn’t unusual. I watched a few videos showing how signal strength is affected when someone holds the phone by the antenna band using their left hands. I usually hold my phone in my left hand, since that’s the position my work land line phone is in.

During the test, I realized that my signal strength took a dive from 5 to 2 or 1 not too far into my pretend conversation. Since the issue wasn’t solved yet, I transferred the phone into my right hand, which seemed to cause less trouble. However, it felt awkward to hold it there.

I called Apple about the issue, but they said they were working on it and I’d just have to wait. Earlier this month, Apple released a software update to fix the signal strength display and also said they’d send out a free case with a bumper that stops your left hand from causing problems with the signal. I got the software update, but was told by Apple that the bumpers were on back order and that I could return my phone for a refund.

Apple had a press conference about the iPhone 4 problems on July 16, and I kept up with what was going on there by watching live blog updates by a couple of reporters on the New York Times website. Steve Jobs basically reiterated the issues and explained what Apple was doing to fix the problem. What surprised me is that Apple still plans to roll out the iPhone 4, bugs and all, to more countries by the end of this month.

Ultimately, I chose to return the phone and go back to the iPhone 3GS, which had many fewer problems. Maybe someday I’ll go back to the newer version, but not until they can work out the obvious user issues.