Аntenna tests of the iPhone XS vs S9 vs Pixel 3 XL tip that connectivity issues may be a design flaw

Аntenna tests of the iPhone XS vs S9 vs Pixel 3 XL tip that connectivity issues may be a design flaw
Back when the new iPhone XS, Max and Xr were announced on September 12, one specialized radio connectivity performance blog raised the alarm that they might have issues with the reception at places with poor signal, both on 4G LTE and Wi-Fi networks. The analysis was based on pure speculation based on the FCC antenna performance tests with the XS and the Max.

Lo and behold, we are now getting the first user complaints that their new iPhones are performing subpar in such scenarios, and it is not limited to Verizon, T-Mobile, or Wi-Fi networks only. The possible culprit?

According to radio engineer Andrew Shepherd, pouring over the FCC files revealed that, while the new iPhones' signal amplifiers are very powerful, the antenna gain is the weak link that fails to grab a strong enough signal. 

Apple put no less than four antennas inside and covers a record number of bands this year, but this cramping, along with the hard to pierce steel bands surrounding the phones, might have contributed to the weaker signal pick-up.

Since only one antenna can be used at a time, the overall result is that the gain is always in the negative, the FCC tests show, diminishing the transmission strength despite all the amplification going on. In real-life scenarios, this should be visible only in borderline areas in terms of signal strength, or, what some users are reporting now. Apple could fix some of it with software updates, tweaking the switches for the respective carrier networks, but some of it may simply be a design flaw that could need addressing. 

The same engineer, on the other hand, dug out the FCC tests of the Pixel 3 XL antennas and concluded that it will be a connectivity powerhouse in the LTE mid-bands, so we can't wait to pit it against the new iPhones in download speed tests.


source: WiWaveLength (1,2,3)

Related phones

iPhone XS
  • Display 5.8 inches
    2436 x 1125 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A12 Bionic, 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2659 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x
iPhone XS Max
  • Display 6.5 inches
    2688 x 1242 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera)
    7 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A12 Bionic, 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3179 mAh
  • OS iOS 13.x

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62 Comments

58. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1227; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

Surprise surprise, an iPhone has crap signal. This has been an ongoing issue

47. Rigmaster

Posts: 234; Member since: Jan 22, 2018

Hilarious. People complaining about call reception? I never see people making calls. I'll buy the data and wifi complaints. No one is buying iPhones to make calls.

46. Rigmaster

Posts: 234; Member since: Jan 22, 2018

Hilarious. People complaining about call reception? I never see people making calls. I'll buy the data and wifi complaints. No one is buying iPhones to make calls.

37. dimas

Posts: 3461; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Youtuber booredatwork already did connectivity comparison between xs mas and note 9. TLDR: there is an obvious difference between the two device. I also saw some reddit complains on xs' front camera, I thought I was the only one who see it but colors are quite inaccurate and sharpness is soft. https://www.reddit.com/r/iphone/comments/9i5hlr/iphone_xs_front_camera_terrible/ I think I will skip xs for now and wait for iphone xr or 11 for my next ios device.

34. macawmatt

Posts: 143; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

If, and I will admit that this is a BIG if, there is a hardware issue that basically would require a recall to fix, shows why I am on Android. Having options is probably one of the best things on this side of the fence. When Samsung buggered up the Note 7, I went back to Motorola. The Apple fans don't exactly have that option here.

31. wesley.

Posts: 218; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Is apple trying to make an ipod or a phone?

28. Tipus

Posts: 914; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

So far no issues on family's tmobile max s.

23. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Haven’t had any connectivity issues with my Max, but I can’t and won’t speak for others.

36. Jrod99

Posts: 782; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

Did you get a Max Dark? Didn’t think you would. I got one in space grey. I’m sorta of in the eco system and like how the watch works in combo with AirPods. I can respect the Note line too but just wouldn’t use both same time.

40. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Anniversary gift from the wife. I really like it, and yes it needs better multitasking, but still a damn good phone. I’m using it with a Series 4, and Gear IconX 2018. They work with Siri really well, but I’ll grab the AirPod 2, when they come out.

38. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

You decided to bit the bullet and get one. Didn't think you would since Apple didn't give you what you wanted in a big phone.

39. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

My wife bought it for me for our 5th anniversary.

48. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

That's cool Happy anniversary

52. darkkjedii

Posts: 31805; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Thanx sis. Appreciate that, and incase you’re wondering...nothing, and I mean nothing is better than the Note 9. The Max is a really good phone, but a Note 9...it’s not.

41. thxultra

Posts: 491; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

No problems with mine either. I stream all day at work on 1 bar and no drop outs.

18. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3200; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Risk management consultants concluded decades ago that the costs associated with having developmental engineers in-house far outweighed any potential consumer backlash or lawsuits. Yes, the occasional flipping Ford Explorer, exploding Firestone 500 tire and exploding Note 7 crop up and cause panic and hysteria every now and then but not much suffers on the bottom line. A blip on the radar, if you will. Ford still makes Explorers and Samsung still makes Notes.

15. Carbo

Posts: 42; Member since: Aug 07, 2015

The iPhone XI will be the best iPhone Apple ever sold. It will have connectivity improved up to 120%, and will only cost 79$ more than the iPhone Xs.

13. maverick786us

Posts: 159; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

iPhone faced a similar issue with version 4, where, there was a death grip

12. Subpixel

Posts: 51; Member since: Feb 22, 2018

Do not worry. Soon Apple will offer an external antenna called "iTenna" for their headphone dongles. Ooppss, but they forgot to put the dongle in the box so you have to buy it first. (-:

32. MarvzIsFallen

Posts: 646; Member since: Aug 11, 2017

What’s dongle? You mean the 3.5mm jack to lightning port. I can give you free coz its just in the drawer and never been use. iPhone batteries last for a day that we don’t need to charge while listening using earphones. Oh i forgot, i bought Airpods and I sold all my 3.5mm headphones. Happy!

35. JCASS889 unregistered

lol enjoy your overpriced subpar sounding headphones

8. Soundjudgment

Posts: 370; Member since: Oct 10, 2016

Those are *really* some depressing RF gain numbers. I mean... just **AWFUL!**

7. nikhil23

Posts: 507; Member since: Dec 07, 2016

Antennagate is back.

5. toukale

Posts: 676; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Don't we just love those keyboard analysts warriors. The folks on the web are somehow always smartest and know it all than anyone working at those companies. It never fails. Similar idiots had all kinds of theories too about the last Macbook Pros and we all know what happened at the end. I stop paying to any of those idiots. Besides everyone has 30 days to return the device if they are not happy with it. You have a device that's not performing, its easy to just return it get another one or get your money back and buy another brand. I always wonder who those idiots are that post on reddit. I know there are people that seems to be doing only that whenever a new product is released. Some even buy the products with no intention of keeping it, but to make a youtube video and return it. Every Apple launch comes with some noise of something is wrong by a group then died a few weeks later, never fails.

6. cmdacos

Posts: 4420; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

They are people that bought an expensive product and then got burned by quality control issues. Seems fair to me.

11. whatev

Posts: 2459; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Exactly, just like when the note 7 decided to explode and cause a lot of victims and embarrass its users who were not allowed on planes, trains or workplaces with their notes, so I agree, it’s fair to me as well but also it’s strange and there’s too much coincidence that these people appear at the launch of every important product just to fade away in few days

19. Atechguy0

Posts: 918; Member since: Aug 03, 2018

People are forgetting the battle going on with Apple and Qualcomm. Qualcomm makes the best and fastest mobile LTE modems. Apple hasn't paid a dime to Qualcomm for 2 years now. So Apple definitely doesn't have access to the latest Qualcomm LTE modems or the software that goes with those LTE modems. Are people really forgetting how crappy Apple has been to Qualcomm? If a company didn't pay me, then I would be like support and software for you. Sure we will get right on that right away, because you are such a big customer to us, but wait we haven't seen one dime from you. Okay we will assign our best people to our best non paying customer Apple. What support and service is Apple going to expect from Qualcomm?

22. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

This, Apple's dealing has left a few Bridges burning behind it in the name of profit. Apple is a crooked company.

20. cmdacos

Posts: 4420; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Samsung handled the note7 debacle very well. Let's see what Apple does. Precedent says they will blame the user.

29. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1354; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

That was because it was entirely Samsung's fault. The user had absolutely no blame in that and they had no choice.

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