Antenna consultants confirm the iPhone 4 problem is what Apple says it is

Antenna consultants confirm the iPhone 4 problem is what Apple says it is
On Friday Apple came up with an official statement about the “grip of death” that causes iOS 4 to show diminished signal strength. Cupertino attributed it to a flaw in the formula that calculates signal strength and converts it to bars visible on the screen. It is obviously supposed to show decent reception even when signal is weak, but not drop-the-call weak.

AntennaSys, a consulting firm, tried the claims on their own, and reached the same conclusion. Holding the iPhone 4 the way it shouldn't be held reduced the bars from five to one, but the call they were on at the moment never dropped. Meanwhile, putting electrical tape on the slit of the metal band actually didn't improve the performance. An urban myth was spreading that the skin short-circuits the antenna parts when the palm is over where they separate.

The engineers confirmed that this human hand interference is pretty normal for phones with internal antennas, but it doesn't usually influence the call itself. AntennaSys plans more thorough testing this week to reach a final verdict.

iPhone 4 Specifications | Review

source: PCWorld

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36 Comments

1. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

having a phone with 5 bars shouldn't go down to 1 by just putting your hand on it. 1 or 2 bars may be affected on some phones but not go from 5 to 1 bar. apple should just recall all of the iphones. android FTW.

2. ToddD00

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 30, 2009

Apparently you didn't even read the article. It's software related. The phone isn't dropping calls. It's just reading out incorrect signal strength.

7. stix26

Posts: 21; Member since: Feb 03, 2010

Have your tried using the 3G, it is worse than the 3GS! More dropped calls then ever before on previous iPhones!

8. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

yes i read the article. the iphone has been dropping calls for the past 3 years!

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it would probably stop dropping calls the moment its of ATT. It would probably drop less calls on metro.. LOL :) basically, Apple has had to come out and say that they have been lying about signal strength the entire time to try to make it look like there was a stronger signal than there really was. You think they didnt know their fomula was wrong for 4 years now?!? riiiiiiight.... they have 40db spread over the first 4 signal bars, and 50db for the 5th bar by itself. They knew they were hiding the true signal and they got caught.

12. lovebuzz

Posts: 76; Member since: Oct 21, 2009

The article says that but it also says Apple is giving away a free IPhone 4G to the first idiot to back up their story. They've already proven several times that by holding it that certain way, it drops the bars from 5 to 1. How is that software related? It's physical and no rocket scientist needs to explain that to you. It's kind of ridiculous that they feel such a need to cover this up.

13. NOVAinc

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 24, 2010

@lovebuzz OMG... I'm not sure if it worth it to answer your already answered question. But here I go: The iPhone 4 shows you 5 bars even if your signal is mediocre or bad. Holding any phone will drop its db reception, and in some cases where the real reception is near the -90db if you hold the phone it will drop to -105/-110db which is a terrible signal and it will drop all your bars. And now if you still don't understand it I give you an example... A normal phone is gonna show you two bars in the same condition than the iOS4 shows you five bars. So the update is supposed to show the bars correctly... That's how it is software related... Much has to do with the shitty AT&T service. Ask how is that this is software related and I'll go and chop my balls.

22. cheech4

Posts: 9; Member since: Dec 29, 2008

and if u really believe that then ur totally lost... my friend has the Iphone 4 and yes it does have antenna issue and yes the bars to drop and yes he has had MANY dropped calls. Apple and AT&T are basically trying to save their arss by saying everything they can so people feel nice and confy with there pieces of crap.

25. rfrapp

Posts: 77; Member since: Jun 10, 2010

@ToddD00 Do you really think that this is software based? It can't be software based because this is a HARDWARE problem. Get a brain. If the problem is when you touch the antenna, then no matter what software you put on it it will still be the same. Get a brain dummy.

29. Stoli89

Posts: 333; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

Yes...BUT. The fundamental problem is not software related. Clearly, all phones are subject to signal attenuation from the human body. However, a significant drop in dB is observed on the iPhone 4 (likely) caused by capacitive interference (human touch) at the left-side junction between the two antennas that comprise the antenna system on the iPhone 4. Although the external antenna system used in the iPhone 4 is prone to said interference it's particular design presents a gap or junction in close proximity to the heaviest part of the left palm during normal use. Some test have shown this situation to result in a -24dB drop in signal strength (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2 ). A -20dB impact to signal strength, which was numerically demonstrated by Anandtech, covers a large range within the current graphical bars on IOS 4. By Apple's extending the signal range of the bars to "correct" the problem, the -20dB effect will be muted graphically However, this does NOT solve the purported problem. Example: If an unheld iPhone 4 results in a numerical signal strength of -94 dB, holding the phone naturally in the left hand can take the signal down to -114 dB, just below the cutoff threshold. Note that -94 dB is coincidentally in the middle of the current IOS4's "4 BAR" range...though the numerical signal measurements have nothing to do with these graphical representations. Sliding the -94dB reference down to the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd bar does not change the -20dB impact to the signal from holding the phone. In essence, this capacitive interference couples the antenna system, thereby detuning the 2G/3G portion. In parallel, energy is also lost (attenuated) into (by) the hand given the proximity of the antenna system during normal use. If you happen to be in an area where signal strength is relatively low (from -94db down to -113dB), this in turn could push the strength to a point where the phone drops calls and/or data. The only likely way around this for the iPhone 4, is with the rubber case/bumper. This serves to further separate the hand from the phone during normal use. Of course, a "home tower" might help to boost the signal above -94dB. Just my opinion on the matter.

30. jogutier

Posts: 324; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

but the phone does drop calls. my buddies does it alllllllll the time when you put it in your left hand so vzw fanman makes sense. quit being a colt member ToddD00. get a real phone with real coverage. I hate to see the day that Mr. Apple (Steve Jobes) tells everyone with a I-something to go to JonesTown and drink the magic wine.

33. mcmkone

Posts: 54; Member since: Mar 24, 2009

i don't want to hurt fan-boys feelings with the truth which sometimes you just have to accept but hey check the link and what has been stated by the design issue they are admitting too.. Read some of the information to have a greater understanding and open your eyes to the Matrix (truth) Surely Apple knows best right??? http://blogs.computerworld.com/16482/apple_confirms_stupid_design_of_iphone_4_antenna_and_cheese _pull

3. ilia1986 unregistered

I hope that Apple releases the hotfix soon. Kinda sick of all this "iPhone 4 drops calls lol" stuff.

23. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

me too

4. timshady337

Posts: 45; Member since: Nov 19, 2009

pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. i'm glad i'm with Verizon. Can you hear me now?

5. shadesesco

Posts: 4; Member since: Jun 23, 2010

apple excuse number #6(?) steve jobs will prob'ly have another 10 excuses before the week is out. anything to keep from recallin the iP.O.S. & saying "i f*cked up...my bad."

6. CHEFJEFF

Posts: 147; Member since: Sep 22, 2009

AntennaSys is probably on Apple"s payroll. What other phone goes from 5 bars to 1 when you pick it up? If you MORONS that are still with AT&T and Apple believe this hype, you are truly iSheep!

10. bossmann20

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 23, 2010

apple is too phone wit their crappy iphones! lol

11. rjt185

Posts: 257; Member since: Jun 11, 2009

...so the phone has been getting crappier reception all along? Priceless. If the problem is software only the only way it would get fixed is by lowering the signal strenght minimum required for the phone to maintain (or attempt) an open line, otherwise it's not going to fix anything.

34. corps1089

Posts: 492; Member since: Jan 20, 2010

GSM tower software is programmed to drop calls with weak signals as expebdable during heavy traffic and during tower to tower handoffs [as opposed to CDMA which can share signals across more than one tower which can lead to its own set of problems to be fair]. I can see how the iPhone misreporting its signal strength to the GSM tower could lead to more dropped calls and therefore can agree that it could be a software issue [although I remain skeptical]. If this were true, then ATT wasted tons of money beefing up markets like NYC where iPhone, iPhone 3G, & iPhone 3Gs users were experiencing 30% dropped call rates! Regardless, dropping 4 bars [and how ever many dBm's reported] am\nd having a dictator tell me how to hold my phone is not acceptable in my book.

14. gmtrenz

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 18, 2010

I had the 1st gen iphone unlocked on t-mobile and never had a single problem, now i've been using the 3gs for about six months and i have never had a problem with signal, dropped calls or nothing like it but i am using it on t-mobile and not att.

15. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Wow, I have an ANDROID HTC ARIA...with AT&T - and it works great - has great reception, in my house - which is amazing....trust me, it is an APPLE issue and not an AT&T issue as my last phone - TILT I - had great reception, too.

16. NOVAinc

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 24, 2010

This may be something new to you, but reception differs from zone to zone... This may blow your mind so get ready to hear it: NOT every iPhone behaves this way. Yes I know, it is like "OMG" but it's actually true, how do you feel now? You've learnt a lot today. You see, you are one of the lucky AT&T consumers that is not actually hitching at its shitty service.

17. baldilocks

Posts: 1428; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

I am really sick and tired of the ignorance of MOST people who comment on this website. AT&T service is just fine for 99% of the people who use it. Verizon sucks in my area, Sprint is a little better and T-Mobile is non-existent. Just because you 'read' things about a carrier, doesn't mean they are true. It's getting old kids... and getting old quickly.

19. bucky

Posts: 3771; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

thank you. im using a nexus one in canada (where every provider offers proper service) but i still cant understand how people get soo emotional over this stuff. The iPhone is a great device. Android offers great products as well. like bloods and crips......only over cellphone companies lol. I stopped reading anything at gsm arena because of this crap. Much like women, chose what rubs you the right way and enjoy.

20. NOVAinc

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 24, 2010

I don't know how proportion works for you, but usually when you say "99%" you're saying almost everybody... unless you are living outside the USA you may be crazy to make such a statement... it works bad for most of people... Of course there are a couple of good spots where it will work good, but mostly it doesn't... the fact that it works for you doesn't mean it works for everybody. Or are you saying the problems there are, are not actually there?

24. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Att has 80 million customers. Pretty sure it doesn't "work bad for most people".

26. vzw fanman

Posts: 1977; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

so your the idiot that gives all the -1's...and taco! the truth is verizon has better coverage than atnt nationally.

28. HerbalTicking

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 07, 2010

I agree, I've had great reception and service with AT&T for the past four years living between LA, Vegas and Salt Lake City. I'm glad I don't live in SF or NY though. Both Android and IOS have good qualities but for me the IOS is more stable and the customer service is better. With sprint 4 years ago it was a total joke. I hear the same complaints with verizon from my family. The iphone4 issue is both a hardware and software issue. If you actually read some of the more in depth reports on this issue it will become clear that there is a slight problem, but a case fixes it and a software update gives you a better read out of the true reception. BTW, I've had a cover for my phones ever since 1996 so not a biggie for me. I've also learned since '96 that every phone is different and some require me to hold them a certain way for the BEST coverage or microphone position. Overall the iphone4 reception "reaches" farther than past iphones (anandtech.com) and doesn't give off the high SAR radiation of the DROID, Incredible, and even the blackberry curve so it works for me. My brother has an android and we're still friends and communicate just fine... youtube iphone4 vs HTC Evo cartoon, have a good laugh and get back to doing something productive.

32. WirelessCritic

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 30, 2009

As a reader of this website for the last few years I've picked up on one common trend with people and their comments towards Apple...mainly, the only people that have an issue with Apple are those on Verizon. I sense a bitterness because they can't have the device. If I'm wrong then that's cool...but we will wait and see on the day Verizon announces total iPhone sales has surpassed that of their Android lineup and phonearena will be mostly free of all the Apple hatred from vzwfanmans of the world.

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