SAN FRANCISCO — For iPhone owners, it always comes back to the antenna.
Apple’s touch-screen smartphone has been a sensation since Day 1 three years ago, and many who own the device believe it to be almost perfect — if only it worked better as a phone.
So it is not surprising that as the first boxes of the new iPhone 4 landed in the hands of the earliest adopters late Wednesday, the antenna’s reception quickly became an Internet obsession. What surprised many of them: the precious little bars that signal network connections inexplicably disappeared when they cradled the phone in their hands a particular way. Sometimes, but not always, the cradling resulted in dropped calls.
In the hours before Apple weighed in on the problem, iPhone fans turned to one another on the Internet in a zealous exercise in crowd-sourcing for answers to the mystery.
They were all the more baffled because the iPhone 4 was designed to have better reception. A metal band that wraps around the edges of the device is supposed to pull in a stronger signal; software is supposed to choose the section of the signal with the least congestion.