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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. Thenextkiller's Avatar
      Thenextkiller -
      iPhone 3GS rocks lol
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      Damn
    1. Neek804's Avatar
      Neek804 -
      Ahh Phooey
    1. flintoff's Avatar
      flintoff -
      wow seriously 3gs really cool in reception
    1. rolandgabor's Avatar
      rolandgabor -
      Another Outstanding review. So much detail. The part on the Antenna provides great knowledge.
      The solution while it seems simple i feel that the phone should have been designed in a way where solutions would not be needed.
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Pretty much what I did 15 minutes out of the box. A tiny slice of clear tape over the ant breaks. Simple fix. The report is a good geek read.
    1. eg6motion's Avatar
      eg6motion -
      curious that the signal is still worse than both the 3GS and Nexus One while using an open palm... The new antenna setup should at least have better reception while laying flat without blockage.

      edit... the article said reception is better, even with fewer bars despite the grip issue. Curious how apple will fix this. Although I am a righty so I don't have much of an issue
    1. k.nitsua's Avatar
      k.nitsua -
      Wish I wasn't so quick to sell my 3G[S].
    1. TheOrioles33's Avatar
      TheOrioles33 -
      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.
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      The real question is when he got good numbers using a "case", which case is he actually using? Apple Bumper case?
    1. wolverinemarky's Avatar
      wolverinemarky -
      lol damn AT&T they better fix this before the white ones come out
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Dont worry a software update should fix it, LMMFAO

      If they were smart enough to put a coating on the 3GS to (not show fingerprints that much). How come they wasnt smart enough to put some sort of coating over the antenna as the author of the article stated should be done..Damn crApple.
    1. freshster's Avatar
      freshster -
      Maybe a thin coating of clear nail polish around the antenna slit will keep the skin from making contact?
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      ^as well as void your warranty?
    1. freshster's Avatar
      freshster -
      C'mon bobright, next thing your gonna tell me is putting a sticker on the back of the iPhone will void the warranty. There has to be a limit on what will cause warranty failure?
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      you mean Apple better fix this.
    1. bobright's Avatar
      bobright -
      I didn't write the warranty it's in the fine print, be my guest and put nail polish on your phone. Your choice.
    1. 4basketball31's Avatar
      4basketball31 -
      why would that void your warranty?
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      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.
    1. bigheadse's Avatar
      bigheadse -
      HTC does not make the Nexus One!!!!!!!!!