Apple iPhone 4 antenna could be physics problem

We’ve all heard that the Apple iPhone 4 has had issues with call reception due to the new antenna being on the frame of the device. Apple dismisses this as a problem that happens with all phones and that users shouldn’t hold it that way but a deeper look reveals it may be a fundamental design problem.

The folks over at AnandTech took a deep dive into this issue and came away with some interesting findings.

Apple designed the new antenna, in part, to address the poor voice service many iPhone owners experience in major metropolitan cities. It also allowed the company to free up space internally, which makes the iPhone 4 one of the thinnest handsets on the market.

Users have been reporting that making contact with this antenna can result in a “death grip” that significantly impacts signal quality. After looking at the issue, the report said, “the fact of the matter is that cupping the bottom left corner and making skin contact between the two antennas does result in a measurable difference in cellular reception.”

The bars on your display don’t necessarily accurately portray your true cellular signal strength, so these guys measured the signal strength in dBm (the power ratio in decibels and compared it to the older iPhone models and the Google Nexus One.

These guys held it in multiple positions and you can check out the results below.

The good news is that the research found the new antenna is much improved when it’s not making contact with the user. It also suggests that Apple could easily fix this problem with a giveaway.

“At the end of the day, Apple should add an insulative coating to the stainless steel band, or subsidize bumper cases. It’s that simple,” AnandTech said.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Apple will be going down this path any time soon.

[Via AnandTech]

  • rushbc

    OK, maybe i am confused…..but does that chart mean that the iphone 3GS has the best signal-pulling ability?

    that would go against everything apple is saying right now about the iphone 4 antenna. i love Apple products, and i love my iphone (a 3GS….was gonna upgrade to iphone4, but maybe gonna wait a bit, now), but it appears that Apple really dropped the ball on this one….and i hate the fact that they are DENYING it, and refusing to offer free bumpercases. the bumper case, that is a real-world fix, an easy and proven resolution to the problem….and it would not cost Apple much money at all. certainly cheaper than a recall or tons of people flooding the Apple stores for tech help….those bumpers probably cost Apple less than five bucks per unit to manufacture.

  • Wayne

    I bought a iPhone 4 and had the same problem so I bought a case for it and now have the best reception I have had with any cell phone and I have own about 15 or more.  Also had 3G and 3GS.

Back to top ▴