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  • Say What?! iPhone 4 Loses Reception Bars When Held by the Antenna Band?



    Talk about holding one's calls.

    Apparently, if you hold the iPhone 4 by the antenna band, you'll lose your bars, your reception, and maybe even your call. As this video making the rounds showcases, holding the handset with your fingers pressed upon the antenna throws off your cell reception and effectively reduces your bars all the way down, in some cases, to zero.

    Of course, it isn't yet clear if the real issue relates to an inaccurate showing of bars or a significant problem with the actual antenna. But as thousands unbox their iPhone 4s and activate the long awaited updated smartphone, you may want to give your device the finger so to speak and play the home game version of this video demonstration.

    But as Paul noted earlier in his piece "iPhone 4 Screen Defects Reported," in every new product, manufacturing defects are almost inevitable. So as scattered but undocumented complaints similarly surface, there's a good chance we'll know in the coming hours and days if this example is an isolated incident (and let's hope that it is)... or if this is the first real bug and potential nightmare for the 4th generation iPhone and its customers.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Say What?! iPhone 4 Loses Reception Bars When Held by the Antenna Band? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 563 Comments
    1. Pchild's Avatar
      Pchild -
      I copied this from the article linked below.

      -------

      AppleInsider | Death Grip hysteria may end Monday with iOS 4.01

      Identifying the problem

      Clear observations of mobile signal strength and how they are affected by the placement of users' hands are difficult to perform in part because there are multiple factors involved in receiving a mobile radio link, including outside interference and the conductivity or mass of different people's hands.

      Additionally, cellphones in general (and in particular the iPhone) have always only presented a very rough approximation of signal strength in the signal bar display, averaged over time. It appears that iOS 4, more so than previous iPhone software, presents a less accurate signal meter, showing less signal at times than an iPhone 3GS while still being able to achieve the same or better call quality.

      This has led some to jump to the conclusion that the reception problems noted by some iPhone 4 users are the sign of a hardware design flaw related to its stainless steel band antenna design. Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs stoked a whiplash of blogger frenzy when he reportedly responded that users "were holding it the wrong way," blocking the signal with their hands.

      A variety of people have demonstrated identical problems with other phones, from the Android based Nexus One to the iPhone 3GS. Yesterday, my wry tweet, "Blocking iPhone 4 antenna kills reception. Blocking mic kills audio, and covering the screen makes it impossible to see Retina Display" made it to the front page of Twitter and was retweeted more than a hundred times by people following the hullabaloo.

      However, the fact that problems observed in the iPhone 3GS are much more pronounced when the device is upgraded to iOS 4 indicate that there is also a software issue involved in the matter. iPhone 4 users can't downgrade to earlier versions of the core software, making it impossible to compare its relative performance.

      Software fix in the works

      Readers report that Apple's tech support forums originally confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday), before the comments were subsequently taken down along with all the other related discussion about the matter.

      The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting "no service" rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.

      iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.

      Additional readers have shared other related experiences that also corroborate the idea that the issue is related to iOS 4's software control of the baseband, including the fact that the issue seems easily reproducible when connecting to a WWAN 3G network but does not appear when connecting to a Microcell 3G. If the problem were simply hardware related issues of the antenna design, it should only affect iPhone 4 units with that new design and should occur at all times, regardless of the tower type. That is not being observed.

      Talk to the hand

      The core software problem is likely augmented by hand placement, as Jobs noted in pointing out that holding the new phone (or any mobile device) in such a way that attenuates the signal should simply be avoided.

      Yesterday, antenna design expert Spencer Webb posted his early appraisal of the situation, noting that the FCC mandates that cell phone antennas need to be positioned as far away from the user's head as possible, effectively forcing antenna placement in the bottom of the phone, where it is most likely to be covered by the user's hand.

      Webb also noted that neither the regulatory tests performed by the FCC during its approval process, nor the antenna efficiency tests performed by the carrier (AT&T) during its own device requirements testing take into account how a user's hand might play into the antenna design and the test results.

      The bottom-mounted antenna design "evolved to meet [FCC] requirements," Webb explained. "And efficient transmission and reception while being held by a human hand are simply not design requirements!"

      Webb points out that Bluetooth headsets also suffer from attenuation when the phone is positioned in such a way that the user's body absorbs too much of the signal. He assumed that the iPhone 4 design, which "moved the antenna action from the back of the phone to the sides," will likely only improve things when the phone is "suspended magically in air," but may actually make things worse when the phone is placed in the user's pocket.

      At the same time, Webb says he voted with his dollars to buy the new iPhone 4 anyway, adding, "sometimes an antenna that's not great, but good enough, is good enough."
    1. mj0528's Avatar
      mj0528 -
      I tried holding the naughty place with my hands when i first got the phone downtown in Austin. I just tried the test at my home which is 20 miles away from where i originally tested it and the bars intially went down but left 2 of them and then all of a sudden all of the bars came back to where i had full signal strength even with my death grip around my phone. I guess I am considering myself lucky to have not a terrible issue with this where i live and none of the other issues.
    1. zmanforever's Avatar
      zmanforever -
      Good stuff hopefully update soon!
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      How many time do we have to tell you Steve Jobs? This is not a software issue it's a hardware issue, something needs to be changed physically.
    1. NiteStar's Avatar
      NiteStar -
      I guess when I go to "no service" and attempt to make a call and I get "call failed", all by placing my finger in one spot......
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      GREAT now with the update the signal bars will "read" we have good service when we don't.
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bobright View Post
      GREAT now with the update the signal bars will "read" we have good service when we don't.
      LMMFAO, and as i said shortly before the phone released. THIS IS AN EPIC FAIL!!!!!!!

      I cant believe so many people fall right into apples hands. Yes apple makes "descent" phones, but we all knew this one was gonna be the most retarded one straight out of the box (because of all the upgrades and the design). We knew there was no way apple would get it right the first time. Sit back and wait til next June. They will redesign this POS and make a little better Iphone out of it atleast.
    1. Pchild's Avatar
      Pchild -
      Quote Originally Posted by xclusiveiphone View Post
      How many time do we have to tell you Steve Jobs? This is not a software issue it's a hardware issue, something needs to be changed physically.
      The greatest ignorance is to talk about something you know little about.
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      I just called Apple support, they said they're aware of the issue and understand fully. They said a new replacement phone would prob be the same and to give it a week or so and they should address it. I told them at the least give me a free bumper case, if not phone if they are recalled.
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pchild View Post
      The greatest ignorance is to talk about something you know little about.
      Personal experience...what more do I need to know? Do I need to read a book or search the web more to know it's a hardware issue? Besides, Apple has already confirmed this is a hardware issue so what are you implying?
    1. mj0528's Avatar
      mj0528 -
      very strange but I just tried to replicate the issue and I can't get the bars to drop now. Is at&t turning up the juice to help cover apple's butt on this one?
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      OK I came up with a possible solution...The problem is they tried to integrate too many antennas out side of the iPhone. They need to relocate the bluetooth, wifi, and gps antennas somewhere inside the iPhone so it doesn't conflict with the phone's antenna when you touch it. Not only will this enhance the iPhone's appearance by eliminating all the ugly gaps outside the iPhone but even possibly produce better signal.
    1. rubberneck's Avatar
      rubberneck -
      Bumpers do not fix the problem, at least not for me

      YouTube - Bumpers do not solve iphone4 reception issue
    1. sekazi's Avatar
      sekazi -
      Quote Originally Posted by xclusiveiphone View Post
      OK I came up with a possible solution...The problem is they tried to integrate too many antennas out side of the iPhone. They need to relocate the bluetooth, wifi, and gps antennas somewhere inside the iPhone so it doesn't conflict with the phone's antenna. This will eliminate the ugly gaps outside the iPhone and possibly produce better signal.
      Ugly gap? I do not find it ugly at all.

      I think a much simpler solution would be for Apple to put a clear matte acrylic layer over the edges.

      But I think they maybe able to fix it via the software.
    1. Pchild's Avatar
      Pchild -
      Quote Originally Posted by xclusiveiphone View Post
      Personal experience...what more do I need to know? Do I need to read a book or search the web more to know it's a hardware issue? Besides, Apple has already confirmed this is a hardware issue so what are you implying?
      They didn't confirm it's a hardware issue. Link me proof of that claim. ... No really... Link proof. They confirmed that there is a bug in the baseband code. I can confirm what they said about the bug.

      "the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting "no service" rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio. iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users."

      I can reproduce the error at *home* 100 out of 100 times.

      I can drive 20 minutes to my *office*, and reproduce the error 0 out of 100 times.

      There is a error in the baseband code for specific 3g carriers (or towers more specifically). It's not 100% a hardware issue, nor did apple confirm this was the case. I, nor apple claimed that there couldn't also be a hardware issue. That's yet to be seen.

      The inside loop is saying Monday they will put out a software update which should address the baseband code helping fix the issue. I think Monday would be really fast, however, I'd think in the next week or so they should have something out.

      Stating absolutes like "It's 100% a hardware issue" "Steve Jobs is an idiot." show your own ignorance. You know little if anything about the actual inner workings/design of the phone except 1 illustration that they posted showing the 3 segments of the antenna during the keynote.

      100 million dollars in development would put my money Steve Jobs knows exactly what the issue is and they are working on correcting the problem.

      So to answer your question. I'm implying you're ignorant, and uninformed. Do some research before you start making absolute claims, and act like you know everything. I don't know what the issue is, nor do I claim to. So I'll refrain from name calling, and throwing 100 Mil worth of design into the wind in 24 hours.
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      Apple has responded with a statement:

      "Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases."

      They implied that a case would fix this problem, so it's quite clear they already admit it's a hardware issue. So your the one that's ignorant and not facing facts. Probably another fanboy defending his superior iPhone.

      Proof: Apple admits iPhone 4 antenna issues - USATODAY.com
    1. zoyd's Avatar
      zoyd -
      Here are results of tests I've done with my i4. All tests were performed in my house where my 3gs has no issues. Speedtest.net app used, 3g on, wifi off

      Summary averages: dl/ul in Mbps average of 6 tests:

      iPhone on table top: 3.3/0.5
      iPhone in right hand: 2.8/1.0
      iPhone in left hand: 0.0/0.0 (data link completely dead)
      iPhone in left hand in plastic tray: 2.1/0.9

      http://bit.ly/cgZ9ji
    1. sekazi's Avatar
      sekazi -
      @Pchild
      I have to agree. Today I am able to reproduce this at home and when I was out I could not produce this at all.
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      Quote Originally Posted by iFone_Inpho View Post
      iPhone calls with apple about atenna issue:

      Call 1:
      Apple-thanks for calling apple. How may I help you?

      Me-I can't make a call when I touch my phone

      Apple-really? Hmm that's weird. Let me talk to my senior manager. Be right back!

      *30 min later*

      Apple-hello. Apple has no stand on this issue at this time. Please don't hold the bottom left of the phone or get a case.

      Me-you understand that's retarded right. That's like me buying a new car then later being told that I can only drive it if I don't touch the steering wheel.

      Apple-I apologize for the inconvenience. Have a nice day.

      Call 2:

      After the same convo as before I got transferred to a senior sales rep

      Me-I can't make a call when I touch my phone

      Apple-we are aware of the problem most likely a hardware problem and we are trying to resolve this issue. Does this happen every time? (yes). Do you have another phone you can use? (no) are you planning on buying a case (I don't know). Ok we will send you a free bumper. I will contact you when there is a solution to this issue. SOMETHING WILL BE DONE ABOUT THIS. Even if it means replace your phone with new hardware. We will not leave people with a phone like this.

      So do I believe them? I really don't know. But what I do know is that on the 29th day, if there is no fix I will be returning the phone. What's your thoughts on this convo?
      WoW atleast you got a free bumper for temporary fix I hope they do come up with a permanent solution any how thanks for this Information and i personally think sooner or later they have to come up with a fix I hope someone soon files a class action law suit on apple for this
    1. nicksti's Avatar
      nicksti -
      How on earth does the iOS 4 software know that you are holding your iPhone "that way"?

      There are people in this thread that are swearing it is a software issue and I am yet to read an explanation as to how on earth the software is registering that you are holding the phone by the metal band? The whole phone is touch sensitive?