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

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.”