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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. ZinZin's Avatar
      ZinZin -
      Are Apple "bumpers" efficient for that particular matter ? (signal loss)
    1. lucky644's Avatar
      lucky644 -
      ............................ignore me
    1. eaglesteve's Avatar
      eaglesteve -
      I don't find naked phones easy to hold. It's too slippery and prone to scratches. Even if there is no reception issue I would be using a case anyway. Since the reception of iPhone 4 in a case is better than 3GS in a case, i don't personally find this an issue at all. So I'm looking forward to upgrade when it comes to Australia.
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      Quote Originally Posted by eaglesteve View Post
      I don't find naked phones easy to hold. It's too slippery and prone to scratches. Even if there is no reception issue I would be using a case anyway. Since the reception of iPhone 4 in a case is better than 3GS in a case, i don't personally find this an issue at all. So I'm looking forward to upgrade when it comes to Australia.
      LOL and you know this how?
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      YES YES YES I AM SO HAPPY TODAY FIRST CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT FILED FOR ANTENNA ISSUE

      SOURCE First iPhone 4 Class Action Suit Filed Against Apple and AT&T
    1. eaglesteve's Avatar
      eaglesteve -
      Quote Originally Posted by bobright; View Post
      LOL and you know this how?
      That's what the test in the report says.

      Quote:
      From my day of testing, I've determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I've never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it's readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use.

      With my bumper case on, I made it further into dead zones than ever before, and into marginal areas that would always drop calls without any problems at all. It's amazing really to experience the difference in sensitivity the iPhone 4 brings compared to the 3GS, and issues from holding the phone aside, reception is absolutely definitely improved. I felt like I was going places no iPhone had ever gone before. There's no doubt in my mind this iPhone gets the best cellular reception yet, even though measured signal is lower than the 3GS.
      Unquote
    1. vinaygoel2000's Avatar
      vinaygoel2000 -
      Just throwing it out there:

      People having reception problems, did your phone shipment come from Texas or China? Mine came from China and has no issue whatsoever. Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe not.
    1. santiagodraco's Avatar
      santiagodraco -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheOrioles33 View Post
      Its odd because the death grip works for me at work and at home. I went to a restaurant today and the death grip did NOT work. I think signal strength is playing a part. I wonder if AT&T is lowering their signal output while they upgrade their system. I used to always get 3G at work and home and now I get Edge with my iPhone 4. I am begninng to think its not enitrely the iPhones 4 fault.
      Of course it's the iPhone 4's fault. If you move to an area where the signal strength is +20db over your other location, then grip the phone tightly, you wont see a change...

      Quote Originally Posted by eg6motion View Post
      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
      ...

      You can't fix or tweak shorting out an antenna in software....
    1. UTPharmer's Avatar
      UTPharmer -
      I also have absolutely no issues. I can grip the **** out of it an j stay at a constant 5 bars, and that after being outside on the balcony while it's raining for 30min. (thanks Alex). Since I livening Houston, it's always humid. I'll check at work, but I've sat right next to a guy doing it to his while mine was fine.

      I'll get a video next time!
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      Quote Originally Posted by vinaygoel2000 View Post
      Just throwing it out there:

      People having reception problems, did your phone shipment come from Texas or China? Mine came from China and has no issue whatsoever. Maybe that has something to do with it. Maybe not.
      Mine came from texas and have this signal issue and also the proximity problem and also the speaker microphone is not working
    1. laz305's Avatar
      laz305 -
      yeah there was nothing wrong with the signal on 3GS so if it wasn't broken why in the hell did they try and fix it?
    1. UTPharmer's Avatar
      UTPharmer -
      Quote Originally Posted by UTPharmer View Post
      I also have absolutely no issues. I can grip the **** out of it an j stay at a constant 5 bars, and that after being outside on the balcony while it's raining for 30min. (thanks Alex). Since I livening Houston, it's always humid. I'll check at work, but I've sat right next to a guy doing it to his while mine was fine.

      I'll get a video next time!
      Well, clearly my keyboard on the iPhone 4 is still lagging. That's my biggest problem with it. I can't type on it as fast as I can on my 3GS because for some reason it can't keep up with my fingers. Since I still have my 3GS, I can switch back and forth between the two phones. ALWAYS on the 3GS, I can type as fast as I could on my Blackberry, while on the iPhone 4, I have to type like I'm thinking about words for the phone to be able to keep up. I Can't figure that issue out...

      My signal on my iPhone 4 has been verified at work, where I only get 3-4 bars, to still not drain when I give it the "death grip" (obviously, the case wasn't on). I keep it in a case anyway because i find the phone too slippery to trust myself with, but even if I didn't, my phone would have no problems.

      My iPhone 4 came from Tennessee, NOT Texas. I live in Houston, TX though...Either way, MY iPhone 4 has never had a single problem that is similar to everyone elses except that the keyboard is a little laggy (only while in landscape mode).

      Is anyone else in a similar boat?
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      LMAO, u have got to be kidding me. Everyone is still boo hooing over a little reception issue. Its a $700 Iphone and the reception sucks. Why would someone complain about that? There is no sense in anyone getting all worked up over a little useless paper weight. If its that big of a deal, just sell the Iphone 4 and buy another 3GS. It cant be all that complicating. Man i swear, people should stop complaining about the Iphone 4. Noone put a gun to your head and made you buy it. We told you from the beginning that it would turn out to be a POS. And well what do u know, i've never seen so many complaints in my life about an Iphone. Heres an idea......Shut up and stop complaining. Find a very tall building and climb on top of it. Then use ur Iphone 4 for what it was intended.....DROP IT TO THE GROUND!!!!!. Then we can call it "Death Drop" instead of Death Grip. Woohooo problem solved.

      Oh look a 3GS running iOS 4 jailbroken and unlocked. Ahhh and no reception issues. Who in their right state of mind would give it up for an Iphone 4. Damn rookies.
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
    1. Razz's Avatar
      Razz -
      Quote Originally Posted by l0k0 View Post
      LMAO, u have got to be kidding me. Everyone is still boo hooing over a little reception issue. Its a $700 Iphone and the reception sucks. Why would someone complain about that? There is no sense in anyone getting all worked up over a little useless paper weight. If its that big of a deal, just sell the Iphone 4 and buy another 3GS. It cant be all that complicating. Man i swear, people should stop complaining about the Iphone 4. Noone put a gun to your head and made you buy it. We told you from the beginning that it would turn out to be a POS. And well what do u know, i've never seen so many complaints in my life about an Iphone. Heres an idea......Shut up and stop complaining. Find a very tall building and climb on top of it. Then use ur Iphone 4 for what it was intended.....DROP IT TO THE GROUND!!!!!. Then we can call it "Death Drop" instead of Death Grip. Woohooo problem solved.

      Oh look a 3GS running iOS 4 jailbroken and unlocked. Ahhh and no reception issues. Who in their right state of mind would give it up for an Iphone 4. Damn rookies.

      Jealous much?
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Razz View Post
      Jealous much?
      Not since the ole lady sold hers on ebay. I begged her not to waste her money on one of those things. Then she goes and sells it for $400 on ebay buy it now. Just shows how bad she wanted to get rid of it. Believe it or not, she's back on the Samsung. Because after she bought her Iphone 4, she sold her 3GS. So now she has to suffer for making a the retarded mistake of buying the Iphone 4 in the first place.
    1. bolojohn's Avatar
      bolojohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by ancient View Post
      I agree...and have done so.
      Good, I've returned my too so we (I mean, smart folks) need to raise the wave of returns to make crapple fill that there is no more trust and stupid hopes for a fix (even though they say they will "fix" it in the next software update) which will not solve the problem since it's a hardware engineering issue, and also make Jobs to loose some money. I would like to see Steve selling his ****** and full of defects returned 4's at Cupertino's local flea-market for a couple of bucks...
    1. talbott's Avatar
      talbott -
      props for 3gs