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    Apple iPhone 4 Antenna Problems Confirmed via Tests


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    Apple iPhone 4 Antenna Problems Confirmed via Tests Empty Apple iPhone 4 Antenna Problems Confirmed via Tests

    Post  MacUser4ever on Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:04 pm

    Will the new Apple iPhone 4's antenna design contribute to lower signal reception? According to one antenna consultant and tests, it's all in how you hold the phone – or don't.

    Customers who received the Apple iPhone 4 early have begun complaining that simply picking up the iPhone 4 and holding it can send the phone's signal indicator plunging, by several bars. Gizmodo also assembled a number of reader responses that apparently confirmed the signal loss.

    The issue, according to industry executives, is that the iPhone 4 places its antenna on the outside of the case, where merely touching it can theoretically limit its ability to pick up a signal. "Antennas are very sensitive; that's just a fact with all antennas," said Michael Rogers, chief engineer at Wi-EX, a maker of cell-phone signal booster equipment, an industry which would stand to benefit from issues with the iPhone 4's antenna.

    A slight drop in signal, say from four bars to three, wouldn't be enough to affect a cell-phone call or data coverage, Rogers said. But a sharp drop to a single bar of coverage could be enough to lose the signal altogether. Enough margin is built in with data coverage that users may not see a dramatic effect in an area with a strong signal. "But if you're in a fringe area, anything like this means you'll drop more calls," Rogers said.

    At this point, the problem is that most "information" out there is anecdotal, industry sources agreed; the iPhone 4 has just begun shipping, and few if any reviews have examined the specific problem of the external antenna.

    Michael Gartenberg, a mobile analyst with The Altimeter Group, said that he believed that the reports were part of an Internet-driven network effect where users blamed poor signal reception on the external antenna. "We have to assume what we're seeing is anecdotal," he said.

    "You would be seeing far more reports if you were seeing a major design flaw out there," Gartenberg added.

    PCMag tests confirm an issue

    However, in an experiment conducted by Thursday, the iPhone 4 reception problem could indeed be replicated, with the so-called "death grip" – where the iPhone 4 was held with fingers touching the three antenna "lines" circling the device – causing the signal to drop.

    In our testing, we discovered that the iPhone 4 "death grip" is definitely real. Using the speed testing software, we started a test with the phone sitting on a tabletop. If we picked up the phone with a slightly sweaty hand and purposefully put one finger on each of the three "lines" around the edge of the device, with the corner tucked into the pad of the hand, the speed dropped dramatically and sometimes stalled out. Returning it to the tabletop caused things to speed up again. Adding one of Apple's rubber "bumpers" to the phone negated the death grip, so it clearly has something to do with conductivity.

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