CWmike writes: Reports of call and data signal strength problems in the new iPhone 4 have a basis in fact, a hardware expert said Thursday. Later in the day, Apple acknowledged that holding the iPhone 4 may result in a diminished signal that could make it difficult to make and maintain calls or retain a data connection. 'Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone,' Apple said in a statement issued to several media outlets, including PC Magazine, which had run tests earlier Thursday. 'If you ever experience this on your Phone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.' Scores of new iPhone owners confirmed the reception problem in a string of more than 360 messages posted to a thread on Apple's iPhone 4 support forum. 'Signal drops from 4-5 bars to 'searching for signal...' when I hold it in my palm or cover up the line on the lower left side of the phone,' reported a user identified as 'yoshjosh on the thread. 'This is a real issue.' Aaron Vronko, CEO of Rapid Repair, who regularly takes apart Apple hardware, including the iPhone 4 before it went on sale, said, 'That's certainly possible
...I understand that cell signals may degrade when you cover up the antenna, but I have never seen anything this severe, and I'm not holding the phone differently than I think most people hold their phones.'