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Apple iPhone 4's signal problem explained

Posted: , by Alan F.

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This article contains unofficial information.

Apple iPhone 4's signal problem explained
Why does the iPhone 4 drop signal strength when held a certain way? AnandTech did an exhaustive study of the problem and came up with some interesting things. First, the antenna for the device is the stainless steel strip that runs around the outside of the handset. The smaller part, running from the bottom left to the top, is used for GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The remainder, running around about three quarters of the phone, is used for cellular communications. When you hold the phone in the bottom left, your body becomes a conductor, putting together the two antenna which detunes them. Had Apple insulated the antennas, we would not be hearing about this problem.

A test was set up with the Apple iPhone 4, the 3GS and the Nexus One. Each phone was held in one of 4 different ways. The phones were cupped tightly, held naturally, on an open palm, and in a case held naturally. The results showed that when the phones were cupped tightly, the iPhone 4 had the lowest signal strength with the 3GS out performing the N-One and the iPhone 4. When held naturally or held in the palm of one's hand, the results were the same with the 3GS outperforming the Nexus One by a wide margin. In a rubber case, the results were a bit different. Although the Apple iPhone 3GS again had the best signal, the iPhone 4 slightly outperformed the Nexus One. Further testing revealed that the antenna on the iPhone 4 works better than the one on the 3GS when the signal is low. Areas where a call would drop on the 3GS would find the iPhone 4 able to hold the call. With a bumper case on the new iPhone, places that were previously dead zones were able to host a call and provide data. According to the tester, this proves the superiority of the new antenna. The problem is that while a rubber case would resolve most of the issues, handing them out would be an admission of guilt by Apple and that most likely is not going to happen. iPhone 4 owners might have to reach into their wallet to buy a rubber case-they shelled out enough for the phone that adding $30 to improve reception would be well worth it.

Apple iPhone 4 Specifications | Review
Apple iPhone 3GS Specifications | Review

source: AnandTech via BGR

Apple iPhone 4's signal problem explained

Apple iPhone 4's signal problem explained

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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:47

1. ajac09 (Posts: 1481; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


posted on 01 Jul 2010, 15:56

53. matt1q2aw3 (unregistered)

I love this....Apple goofed on something sooooo simple, this appears to be a design flaw not based upon computer programming or faulty components.... but simply improper design of the antenna as well as improper testing... Then again, how could Apple properly test their products when they can't even keep track of their prototypes. Those all end up in a puddle of spilled beer and redbull-vodkas. It would be an absolute disgrace if the employee who designed the antenna was fired for this and Jobs is still gets to water and fertilize his orchard of I-bitches. Somewhere on the product testing checklist there is a missing box for "does this phone drop more calls then would be expected?" Someone get me a wool shirt.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 19:03

58. BlackberryUser (Posts: 609; Member since: 26 Jun 2009)

"does this phone drop more calls then would be expected?" That's hard to test on the AT&T network. The last 4 AT&T phones I have had dropped 1 / 3 of the calls I have, latest phone is a Blackberry Bold 9000.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 20:11

59. applesr4eating (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

Even better they want admit it is a design flaw, now they have been sued by 4 people and 1400 more are going to sue them because Apple want admit that they made a mistake. With alll the money they made on sales already they could give every idiotphone owner a free bumber guard and explain to them they make a mistake and the problem would be solved.

posted on 02 Jul 2010, 09:20

67. mcmkone (Posts: 54; Member since: 24 Mar 2009)

Finally one for the Fan Boi's oh i dislike blind people. a Word from Apple http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html

posted on 02 Jul 2010, 19:44

69. wade1968 (Posts: 224; Member since: 12 Apr 2010)

Hello all. I see blame enough to go around to apple and AT&T. see apple gave you more bars. At&T its system can not handle the demands of it customers.At&t needs to put more money in their network,before it burns out.

posted on 30 Jun 2010, 22:08

2. Cali_E (Posts: 196; Member since: 24 Sep 2008)

yay, another excuse for a crappy product design...actually, product in general. FAIL

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:19

8. ILOVEIPHONE25 (unregistered)

u fail

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 01:23

15. simplx (Posts: 4; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

ILOVEIPHONE25 you are the one who really failed. Shullup!

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 07:46

29. ILOVEIPHONE25 (unregistered)

good comeback. BUDDY.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 08:33

32. belve14 (Posts: 113; Member since: 31 Mar 2009)

I keep seeing your hater comments everywhere it makes me sick...dude you are trash and im going to make sure you exposed for the loser that you are. So stay on your toes and go read jokes for dummies 101 cause im going to trash and make you feel as little as your Iphone lol.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 10:51

39. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

"great comeback" from the guy that said "u fail". lol a few things that "fail" in this arguement 1- the nexus one has known signal issues, why are you using that phone? Why not use a Droid or Evo or Incredible? Oh yea, because it would make your iphone look even worse. 2- Its sad that the 3gs comes out on top, everyone knows it has a weak antenna to begin with, the 4g was supposed to stop that, not make it worse. 3- $30 FOR A FRICKIN SILICONE PROTECTOR!?!?! YOU IBOTS REALLY SHELL OUT THAT DAMN MUCH!?!?! YOU REALLY ARE RETARDED!!!

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 11:21

41. networkdood (Posts: 6330; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)

4g?? You mean iphone 4...next year it will be iphone 4g....and with a bumper...

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 11:23

42. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

4g= 4th generation Iphone. im quite aware its not 4g on att's inferior network.. LOL.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 15:33

52. matt1q2aw3 (unregistered)

Shut your mouth ILOVEIPHONE25.... we all have had enough of your sass!!!!

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 22:17

63. ILOVEIPHONE25 (unregistered)


posted on 30 Jun 2010, 23:10

3. Flip7 (Posts: 31; Member since: 27 Nov 2009)

I just couldn't b that stupid to buy a phone knowing all the issues it has who ever does has to b retarded

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 13:55

49. nalu808 (Posts: 39; Member since: 14 Jul 2009)

the rality is there are 1.7 million retarded people.....

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 16:52

54. tedkord (Posts: 11629; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

There's a whole hell of a lot more than 1.7 million....

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 22:17

64. ILOVEIPHONE25 (unregistered)


posted on 30 Jun 2010, 23:26

4. cadetz (unregistered)

sigh... so instead of a 7 buck rubber case you need to buy a 30 buck one from apple that's.... sounds like a rip off

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 07:29

26. *HOVA* (Posts: 564; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

OBVIOUSLY third parties are going to make them too and they will be very inexpensive. This happens with all phone and all cases in case you've never seen it before...

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 08:40

34. belve14 (Posts: 113; Member since: 31 Mar 2009)

Your another one HOVA... you have lingered around for a while now on this site. Your comments and comebacks are weak dude accept what the truth is bro. The Iphone is messed up this time around...think about it you have to buy a cover to get perfect reception everytime lol...joke

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 13:05

46. *HOVA* (Posts: 564; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

I guess I don't hand-fuck my phone so it's not an issue for me. That wasn't a comeback at all just the truth. Anyone who's ever bought a case knows third parties make them and sell them dirt cheap versus what you get through the carrier/manufacturer. That's just a little accessories 101, glad I could take you to class this fine day.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 13:22

47. belve14 (Posts: 113; Member since: 31 Mar 2009)

LOL first off I'd like to thank you for complimenting my 101 which I used for ILoveIphone25....take me to class hmmm not really lol. I know that third parties carry them dirt cheap...a comeback is considered when you try and defend something that someone else had said about something you care about. Oh it also has alot of other definitions but Im sorry son thats all daddy has to tell you today lmao

posted on 02 Jul 2010, 07:58

66. *HOVA* (Posts: 564; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

You're reply is a great indication of the level of knowledge people have around here. JE SUS.

posted on 03 Jul 2010, 10:53

71. sirjudson (Posts: 7; Member since: 18 Apr 2010)

You both are gay.

posted on 30 Jun 2010, 23:28

5. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)

There should be a recall. There is no doubt that there is a problem and people should get a working phone without having to pay extra.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 18:23

57. luv_droids (Posts: 30; Member since: 21 May 2010)

I agree, how do you put out a phone everybody KNOWS is faulty then tell everyone "my bad we fucked up, but to fix it all YOU have to do is PAY an EXTRA $30.00" thats cold, if i was dumb enough to buy an i4 then i would be smart enough to get a refund once i found out i gotta pay to fix a manufactured mistake..

posted on 30 Jun 2010, 23:38

6. corporateJP (Posts: 2431; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)

Apple sucks. That's the only explaination you need.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:23

11. anthonygolovey (Posts: 44; Member since: 30 Dec 2009)

corporateJP, again your an idiot, when you have a product of 1.7 million sold over the weekend, it makes you the MOST IGNORANT, MOST PATHETIC PERSON ON THE PLANET to make a comment like APPLE SUCKS, apple has proven them selves as a very good product, and as i mentioned earlier about you being a BLACKBERRY OWNER, go suck on that ball of yours.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 01:11

13. scnix (Posts: 41; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

No, corporateJP is right. Only thing he needs now is to elaborate. Apple does indeed suck and the 1.7 million units sold only proves that Apple has a kick ass marketing team and there are 1.7 million idiots out there. You happen to be one of them. Their products have long dwindled in terms of quality and innovation. There's nothing new and exciting about any of their products anymore besides the "oh shiny" factor. So Mr. anthonygolovey, corporateJP is fine. It's you who is the most ignorant, most pathetic person on the planet.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 01:22

14. simplx (Posts: 4; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

corporateJP's comment is a good one! anthonygolovey you are just a Apple Fan Boy, Iphone4 is out with so many hardware problem and now they are giving all this crappy EXCUSES. Blackberry have the quality at least. You should be the one sucking your own balls, no, i don't think anyone would want to suck a Apple Fan Boy's balls. Fail!

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 01:58

16. anthonygolovey (Posts: 44; Member since: 30 Dec 2009)

Thats funny how you log in as different USERS to back your self up, thats so SAD, and me OWNING an apple product for 3 days doesnt make me FAN BOY you DUMBASS. Iam not BASSHING ANY PHONES or any CARRIERS you MORON, iam simply pointing out that iphone 4 is an awesome phone, your the phone talking shit without having the phone, in which case it makes you IGNORANT.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 02:21

17. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)

Your wrong because all you can do is call people names. Moron, Dumbass, Ignerant.... why do you have to be that immature. If you want to make a point that people want to take seriously than talk like you have an education. Oh i hate the word fan boy too that is such a weird and overused word. There are over 1.7 million plus some iphones out there that need to be recalled before it gets worse. Apple should admit this and move on. The Only reason i like the iphone over an android phone right now is the touch sensor and the quility of games. Besides that i really would rather have my moto droid than a iphone. I have an ipod so i do understand it is a good product.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 03:46

20. simplx (Posts: 4; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

Shullup dide

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 05:47

22. mcmkone (Posts: 54; Member since: 24 Mar 2009)

Let’s just wait for the civil law suit coming lol I smell a heavy fine coming for force advertisement, that’s one puppy you can’t run from, because all the images on their website and promotion video’s shows them using the phones in the left hand and the service working with full signal, let alone the fact that the product doesn’t meet the requirement in which the purpose sold. Apple will have their day and may even have to introduce a recall, because this could damage them in the smart phone business hence why they are opening up positions for antenna specialists. Don’t believe me, just wait and see what happens in the coming months lol

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 08:34

33. simplx (Posts: 4; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

Truly a strict buisness man

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 20:20

60. applesr4eating (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

Spot on, if it wasn't for their marketing team and the gee whiz factor of their products, who needs the iMaxi anyway, it can't, multitask, no GPS, no camera I could go on.

posted on 02 Jul 2010, 19:40

68. corporateJP (Posts: 2431; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)

anthonygaylovey, you got me mixed up with somebody else. Let me st you straight: 1. This is my only account, I don't have any aliases. 2. Apple has it's own enemies that they created on their own, I don't need multiple personalities to tell you that. These people speak for themselves. 3. I don't use a Blackberry, I use an LG (but I've played with every phone on the market, I do it daily). 4. Steve Jobs is a narcissistic fuck who will colapse under his own weight. 6. It is official, you are a h0m0 and a fanboy.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:10

7. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3108; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

what signal problem?

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:21

9. iheartblueberry (Posts: 78; Member since: 26 Apr 2010)

LOL, Rory wanted to type more but he is using his iPhone 4 and was holding it the wrong way so the only thing he could get out before disconnecting from his 2.5G network was "what signal problem?"

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:21

10. iheartblueberry (Posts: 78; Member since: 26 Apr 2010)

Edge is 2.5G BTW....

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 00:37

12. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3108; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


posted on 01 Jul 2010, 08:15

30. vzw fanman (Posts: 1976; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)

where did you get that info from!? edge speeds barely can get over 130 kbps!

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 23:14

65. iheartblueberry (Posts: 78; Member since: 26 Apr 2010)

Edge is the Second and a half generation technology right after gprs which was 2g. Edge is not fast at all. from 2.5g to 3g there was a huge jump in data transfer. Wimax is technically 3.5g while LTE is the true 4g network. But opinions can vary from one professional to another.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 02:28

18. elandrumiii (Posts: 109; Member since: 20 Mar 2010)

Its amazing how much time you guys spend bashing apple products (iphone mostly) maybe spend more time trying to talk up yours. 1 phone from apple is damn near dominating the market. 1 phone no matter if you like it or not is holding its own against many incarnations of andriod devices on a global level. It is not the most ground breaking design in its 4th generation but the razor was not either and it sold and sold and still is out there in some countries and is still in use today. I don't have an iphone got a blackberry love it and I am considering and HD2 or an EVO. But I will keep my BB 9000 in service for many years to come.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 03:43 1

19. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3108; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)

I talk down about apple in general because of how egotistical and perfect they think they are. They sue other companies for even daring to try to be competition. Each year they come out with a new iphone only to upgrade next to nothing. If you aren't even an iphone user then why do you care? I'm just making fun of a company who releases a product that has serious problems. Denies the problems exist, then comes out with a software update fix. Not to mention they have the nerve to say "hold your phone a different way or BUY one of our cases" you shouldn't have to buy anything for a faulty product. They should apologize and have you return the product for a brand new one that WORKS.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 05:45

21. orchuman (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Jun 2010)

boy id be pissed if i had paid that amount of money for a iphone or any phone and the signal dropped. Glad i bought my samsung wave. better specs and yet cheaper with 15 hours talk time :). This site has gone down hill with all its review scores that doesnt make sense.....but hay the 9.5/10 iphone 4 have lots of apps so they dont need to talk on the phone....arent i right phonearena?

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 09:40

37. nak1017 (Posts: 328; Member since: 08 Jan 2010)

+1 to you sir I'd love to know how a phone with such an obvious flaw can get a 9.5/10. Sure it's a wonderful piece of hardware any other way, but it's definitely not above any of the high-end Android offerings. And can we finally put an end to all the praise of Apple's "attention to detail"? The capacitive screen relies on the conductivity of the skin and that's been around since the first phone! Those antenna engineers had to have known about it! Also, to all those people out there that think Apple uses the best possible components, an 1/18th of a cent worth of clear lacquer or other low-conductivity film/coating would have solved this and done NOTHING to the asthetics of the phone...

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 05:55

23. mcmkone (Posts: 54; Member since: 24 Mar 2009)

Who wants to see how many lawsuits Apple are about to get hit with lol http://blogs.computerworld.com/16445/here_come_the_iphone_4_antenna_gate_class_action_lawsuits

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 21:16

61. applesr4eating (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

What goes around comes around, Apple is sueing everyone and their dog for daring to compete with them.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 06:33

24. cupax (Posts: 15; Member since: 23 Dec 2009)

I don't think Apple sucks but iPhone 4 has certainly a mistake, probably due the schedule they had to launch it. I agree that Apple should recall all the phones and fix them. I mean, in auto industry they do it all the time and also Dell and Sony had several laptop recalls. I say: Now Steve Jobs, let's see if Apple is caring at all for their costumers or is only $$$ for you? And if they don't fix them, only then you would be stupid to buy from Apple again.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 06:51

25. CHEFJEFF (Posts: 143; Member since: 22 Sep 2009)

Actually, if you shove the iPhone4 up Steve Jobs ass, you get a perfect signal.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 07:36

27. taaars (Posts: 13; Member since: 27 Jun 2010)

Im sorry..I had to laugh at that one.....its just pretty damn funny...

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 08:15

31. vzw fanman (Posts: 1976; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


posted on 01 Jul 2010, 07:46

28. taaars (Posts: 13; Member since: 27 Jun 2010)

This what makes me laugh even more, Apple not owning up to a HUGE engineering flaw. I mean really, andatech proved the problem is mechanical, I am 100% sure apple knows this is true, and have known since the first reports of the issue, but like article states..will apple own up to it? I am sure they have their bean counters right now weighing out the costs of a total recall vs handling a lawsuit, they can care less about their customers..they care about how much money they can salvage after this debacle Furthermore I wont be surprised if they are halting production to install a hardware fix. So Isheep, were is your great apple QC now?..were is the great customer service?..were is the great steve jobs?..maybe this hit shows you just how flawed ANYONE can be and that your devices are just as frail as anyone else is. Speaking of frail...don't drop the iphone 4 as well..they are good for about to drops then dead..3 and they crack..SOOO either way a case is almost a necessity for this unit..they should have included it in the package, Glass is glass is glass..it will break.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 21:30

62. applesr4eating (Posts: 32; Member since: 01 Jul 2010)

I think Apple want admit to a problem because Stevo's ego want allow him to admit Apple made a mistake. He's hoping for 3 or more iSheep on the jury to bail his sorry a$$ out.

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 09:00

35. rwolf1984 (Posts: 530; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)

get a case...most iPhone people have a case. you're an idiot if you don't carry your smartphone in a some sort of case with a screen protector (especially if you have a touch screen)...

posted on 01 Jul 2010, 17:23

55. taaars (Posts: 13; Member since: 27 Jun 2010)

If most people had a case this issue would have never gotten so much attention. Its the fact that so many Iphone users DON'T use a case why hardware flaw is discovered. AND if apple intended a case to be used...they should have built the phone with a different housing to avoid this issue. Apart from that..you have a super slim phone, some people probably were thinking of just adding the screen protectors to both sidea to keep scratches of it...but now they are told that their super slim phone cant be slim because the phone is engineered to be used only with a case..now that is lame. BTW..I use a case, and no..its not an Iphone, and yes..I can hold it anyway I like without loosing reception without the case on it.

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