Orange UK tells iPhone 4 buyer delivery was delayed due to 'antenna problems'

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As you’re no doubt aware by now, some iPhone 4 owners have been reporting poor reception and even dropped calls when holding the device by its metal frame, which doubles as the device’s antenna.

Now TechCrunch reader Philip Gradwell checks in to tell us that Orange UK has delayed the delivery of the iPhone 4 he had ordered earlier this week because of the antenna problems.

It’s just one call, one rep, and one user report, and we have a yet unanswered inquiry into Orange. But if it’s true that Orange UK is holding back distribution of the new iPhone because of said issues, that could mean Apple has a larger liability on its hands than originally thought.

Apple spokespersons and CEO Steve Jobs himself have been keen on downplaying the apparent antenna issues so far, advising people to either buy a case or simply to hold the phone in a different manner.

Other fixes include placing some duct tape or even nail polish on the metal frame, but elegant those are not. AppleInsider says a software fix could land early next week, as early as Monday, that will make the antenna issues go away.

As Gradwell himself pointed out, it could well be that the Orange UK rep he spoke to following the non-delivery of his ordered iPhone on Saturday morning was simply using the antenna problems, which have been all over the press in the past few days, as an excuse to hide insufficient stock or other supply issues.

But, again, if this checks out and Orange UK is stalling the delivery of the new iPhone devices because of the reported antenna flaws, there’s a good chance Apple may be more in for some more criticism and bad press.

As for Gradwell, he got a £30 credit for complaining, so it’s not all bad news for him.

We’ll update when and if we hear back from Orange.

Update: Orange says that the advice that was given was incorrect, and confirmed the stock outage:

“Following record consumer demand for a new mobile device on Orange, we’ve now sold through all our initial stock of iPhone 4 handsets. We’re expecting to take delivery of more devices imminently, therefore we recommend new and existing Orange customers either register their interest in store, or check the Orange online shop where they’ll be available shortly.”

  • Mark A

    You would think that people would have learned by now not to touch the first batch of an Apple product with a shitty stick.


    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes and all that.

    • D

      I could care less where any product came from but by your logic absolutely nobody should buy the first batch of Apple products? That’s a very moronic thing to say but then again you’re probably not a bright person anyways.

      • Gravity

        First batch of iPhone 4 is a huge huge NO NO, even Steve Jobs is having trouble defending their antenna issue and that how to hold the iphone to use it, sucks big time!!

      • Oleg P

        It really is NOT that big of a deal. Not that many iPhones are affected. It is a big, nay huge problem sure, but it’s not as widespread as the internet makes it seem. I got one preordered from Apple. It has no antenna issues at all. My sister got one from Best Buy yesterday. Again, no antenna problem. And I spent a long time on each of them trying to recreate the problem. It’s usually only a small minority that has problems with the first batch of something.

      • TheChris

        It’s “could not care less.”

        I find this whole ordeal quite amusing. Since when did Apple cultists care about the device actually working? The iPhone is a crappy phone. I thought it’s purpose was to provide another pretty idol to worship.

      • Mark A

        I’m bright enough to wait for a product to work properly before I buy it, champ. I appreciate that as you have the attention span of a goldfish this may be an issue for you.

        And yeah, if that’s what it takes for them to start taking quality control seriously again, no-one should buy the first batch of products until they do. That’s how it works.

      • Iria

        While a bit sarcastic, based on past history, it’s not moronic.

        It’s an old (paraphrased) adage not to buy the first shipment of anything, whether it’s a car, an Android device, or an iPhone :-)

      • Olternaut

        It’s moronic that you would call what he said moronic.
        You WOULD be a moron to touch the iphone 4 right now before these reception issues are fixed.

      • calls

        iphone 4 is hardly the ‘first’.
        iphone was the first, 4 years ago so you’d think that the ‘buying the first batch’ would be safe because of the progressive development over 4 years.

        I had a Nokia n95 which Nokia managed to solve all the problems on through software updates throughout the term of my contract. At the end it was a great phone and I sold it, then upgraded to the n96 expecting a great phone based on the n95.

        It was like starting all over again, the same old problems, just like Nokia had put a new team on the n96 who knew nothing about the n95.

      • Jim

        Does the N95 have its antenna running around the outside band? Didn’t think so.

    • Don

      Apparently Apple fans just don’t care.

      • Mark A

        Some Apple fans don’t care. The ones who aren’t knuckle dragging morons – which is most of them but obviously not the likes of D – do.

  • Justin Benson

    It used to be if you were an early buyer of Apple’s products they only shafted you on the price. Now the products are dodgy too?

  • Jack Villies

    As Apple has already accepted the antenna reception related issue, it’ll be nice to see Apple offer free cases. Otherwise it’s possible Apple is inviting some trouble (Knowingly releasing a defective (and costly) product and not offering a fix!)

  • Ken Jones

    I called Orange UK at lunchtime on Thursday and ordered 2 iPhones (1 each for me and the missus) without any problems other than the fact that they hadn’t been provided with any white phones so we both had to get black ones. The phones arrived on Friday at 4pm and were activated within a couple of hours.
    The only problem I’ve had so far has been getting used to the on screen keyboard after using BlackBerries for the last few years.
    TBH I’m a bit dubious about this guy’s story because Orange weren’t even letting people order iPhones “earlier this week” hence why I had to wait until launch day to order mine and if he really did manage to somehow place an order before then it surely would have been filled before the thousands of orders that were placed on Thursday and delivered Friday like mine.
    As for the Orange rep’s comments, this sounds like a case of one individual customer services agent running his mouth and I doubt you’ll get much of a response from Orange beyond that. Or it could just be another hole in this guy’s already confused and hole-filled story.

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  • rashid

    If Steve Jobs continues to hold on to his statement to hold the iphone in a different way or use a case than i think apple will really suffer.

    That is not customer/consumer friendly.

    • Steve Jobs

      You are right and I will replace my statement with a much much better option: use gloves (one will do) when holding the phone and that tiny annoyance will go away

      – Sent from my iphone

      • Steve Jobs2

        Made my day. LOL!

      • calls


        The awesome new iglove, specially developed by Apple’s engineers this weekend to shield your hand from the iphone. When you receive a call, quickly slip on the glove and hold the phone however you like.
        The fantastic new igloves are available in the same range of colours as our bumper cases creating a complimentary range of products to cover up the problems with our ground breaking new device.

      • Jim

        You can’t wear a glove and use a capacitive touch screen at the same time.

  • Paul

    I’m now sorry that I upgraded from my iPhone 3G. I was thinking about moving to a Android phone when my AT&T contract expired but I got sucked in by Steve Jobs usual BS. Never again.

    • Tom

      But in the meantime, AT&T got you by your balls for 2 years. Congrats.

  • The Padrino

    I told them that they had a problem with the antenna last week

  • Daniel DiRico

    I read earlier (and keep reading) different reports on this antenna thing. Both Engadget and Wired had a hard time reproducing the problem with normal phone use.
    I’m not saying people aren’t having an issue if they hold the phone just right, but how many out of 1.5 million sold phones are really having this problem? I’m still planning to purchase. Guess I’ll find out..

    • Rich F

      I got my iPhone in the mail on Wednesday and have been using it constantly. Not a single dropped call so far. Overblown problems are overblown.

      • Meep

        Well, the people with problems are usually the loudest. You’re not going to get blogs saying “My iPhone 4’s working great!” because that’s what everyone expects from a $300 phone. But people are having problems with the antenna, so everyone that does have a problem will show up asking everyone why. It’s just how the world works.

        What blew this out of proportion was Jobs’ “You’re holding it wrong!” response, because it’s the antithesis of the friendly customer service that leads to retention. It really exposed Apple’s “We don’t care about you; you should adapt to ‘our’ magical products, including everything that’s wrong with them” approach to things. Apple’s motto was always “It just works,” but unfortunately that’s not the case. It may not be an epidemic, but it’s definitely something that shouldn’t have gotten through QA.

  • charlesh

    I’m in Canada and have enough problems with my iPhone 3GS dropping calls. I really don’t want to think about how I hold the phone in order to avoid this. As much as I love the iPhone, I’ve got to be practical and upgrade to an Motorola Droid.

  • Jocca

    The problem can be fixed easily by putting your iPhone O4 in a protective case or by just adding those multicolor bumpers that Apple has designed for the phone. These bumpers will prevent your fingers from touching the antenna and protect your phone in case it of a spill.

    • Meep

      For $30. Should you really have to pay money to fix something that ‘they’ did wrong? Shouldn’t they be providing you with bumpers and cases? Which leads to the next issue. One of the best features of the iPhone 4 is how beautiful it is. There’s honestly no point in buying a 4 and not a 3GS at this point if you’re going to cover it up with an ugly case or add those bumpers.

      • jason

        Meep I agree. What I dotn get is all the apple fanbois shouting how beautiful their new gadget looks and they but a butt ugly case and they turn their ‘thing of beauty’ into a brick.

    • jason

      Good god, your shitting me right? Are you really serious? If there is something wrong with the hardware and the punter pays top doller for the device Apple should solve the hardware problem, not suggest a scotch tape solution.

  • Jeb

    Make a phone out of glass and tell people to hold it with two fingers. This is definitely a way to get returning customers. I think apple knew about this late in the manufacturing process, hence the offering of the ugly bumper case quick fix. Could the price of the case be a lame attempted to imply quality? Repairing all the phones in the late stages of manufacturing it was probably considered too much of a hit to take. You had a good run guys, but everyone peaks sooner or later.

    • jason

      just imagine if apple designed the phones with the bumper pre attached. That would be a fun conversation t read on the web.

  • Daniel DiRico

    Just read another report from appleinsider that this might actually be a simple software blip:

  • Jim

    How many people are complaining about this issue? And how many iPhone 4’s have been sold? Look at the numbers and it’s probably not as widespread as the media would have you believe.

    I’m sure there’s a problem, but I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it is being made out to be.

    • Jim

      Unfortunately the story didn’t break until after all the pre-orders where placed.

  • Bw

    We have two and no problems at all. Overblown BS for sure.

  • Dom

    Carphone Warehouse have point blank refused to give me a refund on my iPhone 4 (antenna problems AND a lovely yellowish screen) because – and I quote – “It’s a known problem”.

    They can’t give me a replacement because – obviously – nowhere has any iPhones, and frankly I don’t want one because the design is fundamentally flawed.

    So now I have a phone that’s unusable (I get no service at all when I’m holding it), and a 2 year contract that I can’t get out of.

    • calls

      They have to give you a refund, contact consumer direct / trading standards

      search for consumer direct on google

  • James Anselment

    The problems might be a little overstated, sort of like anything with any apple product, but They are no doubt real. Anyone who has ever watched satellite TV knows how much difference it can make, when something interferes with the antenna. A good rain will mess up your signal. Also different peoples bodies have different electrical conductivities, so one person may have a problem, another won’t, just the way it works. I would bet if they can’t take care of the problem soon, they might start giving away the cases and refund those who have already purchased one. Apple has a high enough profit margin they can give away a goody that costs….what 2$ to make? Just a guess. That would be the best thing to do for customer relations.

  • AdamC

    Sorry goog fanbois, you may love your toy just go ahead and buy what suit you, for me why buy a copycat iPhone.

    Aplastic cover will solve the problem of the iPhone4 so there is nothing to see time to move on.

    • hary

      Then move on dude!! Why stop here for commenting? ;)

      P.S: I am neither an iphone nor android user.

  • Eric

    Dom, Carphone Warehouse have to issue a refund and cancel the contract. You have 28 days to cancel the contract and return any goods as a consumer.

    • Dom

      You’d think. But both the branch manager and customer services told me otherwise.

      Have now contacted Trading Standards.

      But the moral of the story is never, ever, EVER buy anything from Carphone Warehouse. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve stolen my money.

  • Jon

    If there really is an issue with the skin shorting the antennas, all Apple has to do next time is add a coating.

    • calls

      yes that’s true but what about this time?

  • White iPhone 4 Handsets In UK Stores? :: App Advice

    […] other news, the UK only received 16,000 iPhone 4 handsets. Orange UK apparently told a TechCrunch reader that this was due to antenna issues, though no further comments have been made […]

  • jason

    1 person, 1 phone, 1 report. Is this what classes as investigative journalism these days?

  • Chris

    We’ve had an iPhone 4G since launch, used it extensively, and experienced none of the antenna issues. Perhaps we’re holding the phone in the recommended way.

    The fact that buying a case resolves issues, allegedly, for others doesn’t seem a very adequate thing to have to do when spending good money on an expensive state-of-the-art comms device. However, when you get hold of a 4G I must admit you’re inclined to want to protect it with a case of some form anyway. It’s a lovely looking thing and I’m sure the newly developed ‘glass’ is as strong as they say it is, but the reality is that anything dropped on concrete is probably going to come off worse outside of a case.

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    […] other news, the UK only received 16,000 iPhone 4 handsets. Orange UK apparently told a TechCrunch reader that this was due to antenna issues, though no further comments have been made […]

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    […] do além-mar indicam que o Reino Unido teria recebido apenas 16.000 iPhones 4 para o lançamento e o TechCrunch Europe recebeu uma pista de um comprador da Orange que teve a entrega de seu iPhone adiada por conta de “problemas com […]

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