Holding the new iPhone 4 incorrectly could result in a signal loss, Apple says. ((Kiichiro Sata/Associated Press))

Apple has acknowledged reception problems with its new iPhone 4, but the company is blaming the issue on how users are holding the device.

The new iPhone, which went on sale in several countries on Thursday, features an antenna built into the frame of the device itself. Some users immediately complained of losing reception, which prompted Apple to address the issue late Thursday.

The company said the problem was not the result of any hardware or software failures, but rather how users placed their fingers.

"Gripping any mobile 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," the company said in a statement. "If you ever experience this on your iPhone 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."

'How did Apple miss this?'

Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs further addressed the issue in an email to a user, which was posted on the Engadget website on Friday. The user wrote to complain about the problem, to which Jobs responded: "Just avoid holding it that way."

Technology websites and bloggers criticized Apple on Friday for refusing to acknowledge the issue as a design flaw.

"While it is definitely true that interference is an unavoidable problem, we can't help feeling like this is really a bit of bad design," Engadget said. "If the only answer is to move your hand, why didn't Apple just move the antenna position?"

"This issue begs an important question: How did Apple miss this?" said an article on Mashable.

The iPhone 4 was met with huge lineups in the five countries it launched in on Thursday. The device, which is thinner and lighter with a sharper screen, is not yet available in Canada but all three major wireless carriers, Bell, Rogers and Telus, have said they plan to launch it in July.