One commenter linked to an article from early this month about a Danish expert in radio antennas who predicted that touching the antenna would affect reception. Another update claimed to narrow down the problem to touching the lower left side of the phone.
The reader reports included suggestions for how to fix the problem — Update 19: use nail polish to insulate the antenna; Update 21: enclose the phone in a rubber case — and appeared to show some wisdom in this crowd. Late Thursday, an Apple spokesman, Steve Dowling, acknowledged that the issues experienced by users were real but he played down their importance.
“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, depending on the placement of the antennas,” he said. “This is a fact of life for every wireless phone.”
Mr. Dowling declined to say whether Apple experienced the issue during testing of the phone and suggested that users not hold the phone in a way that covers both sides of a small black strip on the lower left side. Alternatively, he said, they could use one of many available cases.
Analysts and investors did not appear overly worried.
“Apple has not had one introduction that hasn’t had issues,” said Charles Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Company. “Sometimes these things get blown out of proportion.”
On Wall Street, shares of Apple slid a mere 0.8 percent, faring better than the broad Nasdaq index, which dropped 1.6 percent.
And given the long lines outside Apple stores in New York heat, Chicago rain and San Francisco fog, consumers appeared unconcerned by, or unaware of, the potential reception issues.
Even Brian Lam, Gizmodo’s editorial director, saw an upside to the iPhone 4, antenna problems and all. “We are paying attention to the antenna issue because it could be a big deal,” he said.
But Mr. Lam said that for years, he had not been able to use older iPhones to make calls from his home. That changed on Thursday, after he bought an iPhone 4. “I have made three hours of calls today,” he said.