It is true that if you present a view controller modally on the iPhone, it will always be presented full screen no matter how you present it on the top view controller of a navigation controller or any other way around. But you can always show the navigation bar with the following workaround way:

Rather than presenting that view controller modally present a navigation controller modally with its root view controller set as the view controller you want:

MyViewController *myViewController = [[MyViewController alloc] initWithNibName:nil bundle:nil];
UINavigationController *navigationController = 
    [[UINavigationController alloc] initWithRootViewController:myViewController];

//now present this navigation controller modally 
[self presentViewController:navigationController


You should see a navigation bar when your view is presented modally.