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  • Anand Nails the Death Grip


    Anand Shimpi and Brian Klug over at Anandtech have done some rigorous testing of an iPhone 4 alongside an iPhone 3GS and a Nexus One. His findings, not surprisingly: the Death Grip is real, it's serious, and you need bumpers. The test results unambiguously replicate what has been effectively crowdsourced over the past week, and should increase the pressure on Apple to stand up and deal with the problem. (I'm not saying it will, but it most definitely should.)

    I'm an RF engineer by trade, and when I noticed the bars dropping on my new iPhone I wanted to try and quantify it a little better. So the first thing I did was key in *3001#12345#* to enable field test mode so I could see real RSSI (signal strength) and SNR (signal to noise) numbers. Nothing. As it turns out Apple yoinked FieldTest.app from iOS 4, so all we've got is the vague, slow-to-resolve bars readout. Thanks, guys. Given that no matter what, the bars on an iPhone 4 had to represent something different than what they did on my iPhone 3G, there was no real way of knowing what the drop in bars represented in real signal strength.

    The Anandtech guys hit on a great solution for showing signal strength on his iPhone 4: having modified his 3GS to show RSSI instead of bars, he restored his iPhone 4 from the 3GS backup, and the modified status config came along with it. Using that, he was able to conclusively determine what the effect of the Death Grip was on signal: up to a worst case of -24 dBm attenuation, and on average -20, which will take you from four bars to one or none. Using a case, the drop was -7 dBm, same as the Nexus One.

    Go to the Anandtech article if you want the details, it's a fascinating read if you're a radio geek, or if you just like to see how people who know what they're doing go about figuring things out. He did find that the iPhone 4's antenna is much improved, especially in low signal conditions. However, his conclusion is as clear as can be:
    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.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Anand Nails the Death Grip started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 58 Comments
    1. Chase817's Avatar
      Chase817 -
      Great, one more argument for my dad to think his 3GS is better than my i4.
    1. 4basketball31's Avatar
      4basketball31 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigheadse View Post
      HTC does not make the Nexus One!!!!!!!!!
      yes it does wikipedia nexus one and look at the manufacturer
    1. vegassteven's Avatar
      vegassteven -
      This makes my 3GS feel "snappier"

      But seriously, I can appreciate how it is engineered even more now
    1. Turnamental's Avatar
      Turnamental -
      Belkin "Grip Vue" is the best case solution to this problem.

      Hadn't been able to get my hands on a damn bumper...
    1. Levirules's Avatar
      Levirules -
      I really hope Apple's solution is not free bumpers. I'm still on a 3GS and am very close to upgrading, but the death grip does scare me a bit. I don't like cases. I hate them. The phone is so nice, visually and physically, that a case or bumper really ruins the look and feel for me. They had better halt manufacturing of the iphone 4's until the fix tbe issue, or come up with an aestetically pleasing way of fixing the problem.
    1. eg6motion's Avatar
      eg6motion -
      Quote Originally Posted by Levirules View Post
      I really hope Apple's solution is not free bumpers. I'm still on a 3GS and am very close to upgrading, but the death grip does scare me a bit. I don't like cases. I hate them. The phone is so nice, visually and physically, that a case or bumper really ruins the look and feel for me. They had better halt manufacturing of the iphone 4's until the fix tbe issue, or come up with an aestetically pleasing way of fixing the problem.
      despite being a hardware issue currently, you'd be surprised what can be fixed with software too. It's entirely possible to tweak the transmitting settings for any antenna via software
    1. scgmilan's Avatar
      scgmilan -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigheadse View Post
      HTC does not make the Nexus One!!!!!!!!!
      Yes it does, idiot.

      Have you ever seen one? Comes in a big white box that says HTC on it....
    1. brianlg's Avatar
      brianlg -
      I'll gladly trade my 3GS for a 4g
    1. ancient's Avatar
      ancient -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      I say everybody return their iPhone 4 for a refund in protest. How much would that piss off Mr. Jobs watching thousands and thousands of sales disappear.
      I agree...and have done so.
    1. jfsk28em's Avatar
      jfsk28em -
      how to get out of the testmode.app
    1. Hitek146's Avatar
      Hitek146 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jfsk28em View Post
      how to get out of the testmode.app
      Kill process with sbsettings?
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      Apple, just make the SIM tray out of plastic and the problem should go away
    1. babyhuey7076's Avatar
      babyhuey7076 -
      is it me or is it just dumb luck that a bumper is availble at launch that will reportedly fix this reception isuue?? dumb luck i guess. nah jsut 30 more bucks for the apple coffers.
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      IF we could some how get the internals of a 3GS to work inside the case of an Iphone 4-less bars (except make the metal band into plastic). THEN we would have hell of a sexy phone that actually works for more than just a paper weight, LMAO.

      3GS so far is still the best one Apple has made out of the box. As far as functionality and dependability is concerned. Iphone 4-less bars, just looks sexier.
    1. Turnamental's Avatar
      Turnamental -
      Ingenious whereswaldo. Pretty sure that would work. Most inexpensive and logical solution if it were to work.... 
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      No real problem here with the death grip. My signal at home is better than my 3GS. I lose a couple of bars when I hold the phone in death grip style but no dropped calls. I also noticed that my 3GS also drops bars on ios4 when I palm the phone. I did the sim trick with some nail polish (clear) and a small bead by the antenna. I don't have a big issue with it. When I am in town I don't have any bar loss. Overall I have a better phone out of the box than my 3GS. Not to mention the display and super fast speed with apps and the n network speed connection on wifi. So in a nutshell. I am very pleased. Oh and yes a software fix can help. We see this same issue with some gps mil products. Apple changed the rate and way it searches for a network with hopes to aid signal strength with ATT. This could be a contributing factor. Relax people it's not that bad. If this was a smaller company with less a name no one would be crying over this. I'm confident APPLE will resolve the issue. And if you still hate that go get a different phone and delete this forum from your list so you can get on with enjoying life.
    1. techrider62's Avatar
      techrider62 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bigheadse View Post
      HTC does not make the Nexus One!!!!!!!!!
      It's printed on the back of my flash enabled Nexus One htc.He said FLASH
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      techrider62 Posts: 32
      Quote from bigheadse
      HTC does not make the Nexus One!!!!!!!!!
      It's printed on the back of my flash enabled Nexus One htc.He said FLASH


      LMAO!!!
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by k.nitsua View Post
      Wish I wasn't so quick to sell my 3G[S].
      I sold one and kept one HA!