29 Jul 2010
By Richard Fink

Tips for a great iPhone reception


Many people have asked us about how they can get the best coverage performance from the iPhone 4 when it launches on Friday. So we’ve assembled some tips based on our Next G™ network testing.

The first thing to know is that the iPhone 4, without the use of accessories, is approved by Telstra for handheld use in metro and major regional coverage areas. These are the areas marked as “voice, picture, TV, video and broadband” on the Telstra Next G™ coverage maps that can be found here.

Tip 1 – Enjoy Blue Tick equivalent coverage on iPhone 4 in regional coverage areas with an approved bumper or case

The great news for our regional and rural customers is that an approved rubberised bumper or case can help to maximise the coverage performance of the iPhone 4. In fact, the handheld coverage performance is improved so that it is equivalent to one of our Telstra ‘Blue Tick’ devices.

We award our Blue Tick to mobiles that have the best coverage performance and recommend them to customers working or living in regional and rural coverage areas.

A bumper, in case you’re wondering, is a rubber accessory that fits snugly around the edges of a mobile phone.

Tip 2 – Enjoy the best iPhone 4 coverage in metro coverage areas

To help maximise coverage performance in metro and major regional areas, Telstra recommends that customers team their iPhone 4 with an approved rubberised bumper or case.

We’ve found that an approved bumper or case can also improve the consistency of data speeds when customers are using a fast network like the Telstra Next G™ network. So if frequent mobile internet is important to you, we suggest you grab a bumper or case.

Which bumpers/cases have been tested by Telstra?

So far we have tested two bumpers and a case. Details of the Blue Tick equivalent cases we have tested can be found here.

How we test
Telstra uses a two-phase methodology to test the coverage performance of each mobile phone model it offers to customers. The first test is conducted at Telstra’s anechoic chamber in Sydney and examines a mobile’s handheld receiver sensitivity. The second test is conducted out in the field. Testing looks at elements like voice quality and how successfully a handset makes and receives calls at the edge of coverage. Check out how it’s done here.

Related links:


Posts: 20


  1. Joel Barker says:

    Since Tips 1 & 2 are exactly the same: ‘Use a bumper’, shouldn’t the title really be ‘Tip for a great iPhone reception’?

  2. Dan Warne says:

    Soooooooo… in a nutshell: use a bumper. Thanks, we knew that already ;-)

  3. Tee Carter says:

    Are free bumpers being issued by Apple for the iPhone 4 in Australia?
    This would suggest they’re not…???

    Will Apple / Telstra offer a full refund if the coverage does not live up to expectations as they are in the US?

  4. Hello Tee,

    Yes, they are being provided up to the 30th September via redemption from Apple.


    • Sharon O says:

      If there is a redemption for cost of the bumper, who do I contact to get it?

      When I purchased my iphone4 it wasn’t suggested that I should buy a bumper. I did purchase an apple brand silicon cover -- that is what you are calling a bumper is it not?

  5. Tee Carter says:

    Thanks Chris, no word though on whether Apple and or Telstra will offer a full refund if the coverage does not live up to expectations as they are doing in the US?

    only half an answer really…

  6. Hello

    To be honest, have been trying to replicate the fault but have been unable to. This is a good sign :)

    Still recommended to get the bumper from Apple though.


  7. Nicole says:

    How can I get the free bumper case I just got my iphone 4 from Telstra and I cant find the Bumper Case App on itunes they are talking about? any suggestions thanks!

  8. Kristin says:

    Me too, Chris. I’ve been trying to “death grip” my iPhone 4 in any way possible, even with two hands. But no signal dropping or noticable slowing in data download speeds :)

  9. Shaun says:

    We don’t have any reception problems. Let me explain.

    My wife received a phone call from the Waurn Ponds TLife store on Wednesday 28th July 2010. We had expressed interest in the Iphone 4 in early June and the store rang to confirm what we required.

    My wife ordered two (2) x black 32g Iphone 4s and was advised that they would be in the store on Friday for purchase.

    Much to our disgust and dissappointment, when we arrived in the store after 6pm, after some delay in the storeroom, we were told that there was only one (1) 16g black Iphone set aside for us.

    We now have to wait two weeks before the next batch of phones become available.

    In the mean time, I have friends who went to Optus (online)and will have their phones on Monday or Tuesday. They also get two months free on a 24 month plan.

    I will be going to work on Monday and my colleagues are expecting to see my new “Telstra” iphone. I have no choice but to explain my situation to them. The majority of which are Optus mobile users.

    This reflect poorly on Telstra.

    I seek compensation for not having two iphones (on a businees plan) available for atleast two weeks due to gross incompetence of TLife staff at the WaurnPonds store. In addition I also seek two months credit for our phones when they do arrive, as I would have got this with optus online and I would have got our Iphones on Monday or Tuesday.

    Really not acceptable and killed the buzz of getting the new Iphones.

  10. Kristin,

    I did a data speed test, and it blew my old iPhone out of the water.. was around the same downstream (3000kbps), but what I was surprised is I got about 2500kbps upstream!!


  11. JD says:

    Just search the app store for ‘apple case program’.
    it’s been there a couple of days.

  12. Midol says:


    I managed to replicate the issue within about 30 seconds in a Telstra store.

    Tip to great reception: Don’t get an iPhone 4 ;)

  13. Stu says:

    Maybe the “death grip” is radio frequency dependant, and here is Oz we are using a different frequency than the US.

    Just a thought

  14. tg says:

    ironic that you were demonstrating with a htc seeing as many htc fanbois have now labled the testing methods as bogus because of the what you have said about the iphone 4.

  15. Tee Carter says:

    I can easily make the iPhone 4 lose 2 bars of signal by simply touching it on either side of the phone round the metal slit. It takes about 10 seconds for both bars to drop, but this can be repeated with the same result everytime.

    Not one of my many other phones, including HTC Touch Diamond 2, HTC Touch HD, imate JasJam, imate SP5 and imate jamin (amongst others) have had such a drastic effect from simply holding the phone.

    The iPhone 4 definitely has an inherent design flaw.

  16. Michael A says:

    I don’t own one, though I have friends here at work that do. I concur with others’ observations: I am unable to replicate this behaviour. However, at my home in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, I am able to get my 3GS to go from four bars to two -- I must live in a weak signal area.

    As other Australian reviewers note (eg, The Advertiser testing in various signal strength locations using SIMs from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and 3) this is not a problem for the overwhelming majority, at least not as sensational as the \it’s a design flaw\ argument makes it out to be.

  17. Graham Mitchell says:

    The requirement for an ugly, lumpy bumper to achieve acceptable performance is ridiculous.
    Steve Jobs waxed lyrical about iphone 4 being reminiscent of an old style Leica range-finder camera. Well let me tell you, enthusiasts of these stunning devices (my youngest brother included) would NEVER dream of encasing the camera in a bulky rubber jacket.
    What is the point of manufacturing a phone that is sold on it’s stunning looks (and boy is it beautiful) to then have to ruin the aesthetic with a Noddy car bumper?
    The smart money will be spent on a 3GS (considerably less) and the user will patiently wait till 5 is released.
    Apple wouldn’t dare put out the same hardware with a few internal tweaks as last time or would they…

  18. Mukund Guruji says:

    Hi I have recently updated the iPhone OS to 4.0.1 through iTunes for my iPhone 3GS. Until before update of software I had full coverage, but after update there are only 3 bars shown top left corner of iPhone. Is this a problem of the new OS or Telstra’s signal problem?

  19. krangsquared says:

    @Mukund It’s not a “problem”, it’s a bugfix in iOS 4.0.1. Apple say they were being too generous with their signal indicator, giving you too many bars, resulting in a very dramatic drop-off in signal once the iPhone4 antenna is gripped in the ‘wrong’ place.

    @Graham “Better hardware” trumps “ruined aesthetic” anytime. It’s still faster, more memory, better reception than 3GS, from all I’ve heard. I’ll just buy more fancy paintings for the living room. =) (but yeah, Apple come up with some uglies at times… like black keyboards on metallic macbook pros… yuck)

  20. Karl says:


    Telstra’s NextG network uses the same frequency as AT&T (the only operator in USA that sells the iPhone 4) that is 3G 850MHz.

    Just a little fact.

  21. MatthewM says:

    I have recently swapped from Vodafone mid-contract to a Telstra 24 month plan with an upgrade from my 3Gs to the new iPhone 4.

    Since activiating the Telstra SIM, my reception has been nothing short of terrible. I can not maintain a phone call for more then a few seconds at best.

    I constantly get the msg “NETWORK LOST, Your netowrk is no longer available…”etc Yet I have an n82 on the same telstra Next G network and it gets full 3g reception in the same house. I have called telstra numerous times and they have only asked have I tried turning it off and on again? Or did I order the apple free bumper. YES i applied for that but a phone with no case sitting on a table should be able to get perfectly fine reception here, my friends on OPTUS 3 and Vodafone do not have these problems.

    Update: I went in to the telstra shop and they said my phone was set to the “3G” not “3G 850mhz” and swapped me over to the ‘superior 850mhz frequency’ … just got home reset my phone twice and still dropping out or sitting on one bar of reception. I know they have the best network but I certainly cannot connect to it on my brand new iPhone 4. For me, Telstra = Terrible.

    • Karl says:

      I’ve been in places where 3 mobile (3G 2100) and Telstra GSM have a much stronger signal than Telstra’s NextG. On the iPhone 4, you can’t really select 3G bands to start with. You can only select ’3G’ or ‘GSM’.

      As long as you leave your ‘Carrier’ at ‘Automatic’, your phone should be able to connect to Telstra’s NextG network (Telstra -- 3G 850MHz) or it’s other 3G network (3TELSTRA 3G 2100MHz). If you are having a constant problem, make sure your phone is connected to ‘Telstra Mobile’ rather than ’3TELSTRA’.

      Otherwise, you might want to return the phone for a swap, either at Telstra or at the Apple Store (They exchange phones there even if you bought it from Telstra).

  22. Rachel says:

    Have had my iphone 4 for 2 days and having loads of reception problems in a regional area already. So much for the ‘blue tick’.

    My Motorola v9 had no issues with reception.

    Its not just low bars -- its NOTHING. Cant even find the network.

    As the phone is for business use this is all very inconvenient and embarassing.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I have checked and the phone is set us as Karl suggested.

  23. Jackson says:

    Its funny to look back on this argument now, remembering how so many android users just happened to have an iphone 4 as their second phone or whose friends, school mate, Mum, Dad, brother or sister had one and they were basically unusable because of poor reception.
    6 months down the track and millions and millions of iphone 4′s (virtually all with excellent reception) later, Telstra and their “Next G™ network testing” have been proved right.
    I wonder what the iphone haters will come up with when the iphone 5 comes out.

  24. iPhone4eva says:

    Why can’t I find this phone on the Blue Tick section of the Telstra Website? Telstra are so unorganised.

    • Newby says:

      Hey, I think I read that because it needs a bumper it can’t technically be classed as ‘Blue Tick.’

  25. kim says:

    so i’m confused is the iphone a good one to get or should i wait till the iphone 5 comes out. is it going to be better. i have a friend with an iphone and we live in a rural town in western nsw and she seems to get good reception. on her 3GS so should i buy a iphone3Gs or a iphone4. or just wait?
    when is the new one coming out???

  26. Scott says:

    I live in a rural area and only get a poor signal (1-2 bars outside -- nothing inside) does anyone know if we can get a booster to mount on the house to improve the signal?? Have an iPhone4 and would like to make calls and use data. Cheers

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