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  • mfenn - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link


    Can you update the article with the exact part # or a link to that Kapton in the appropriate width?
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Hey mfenn,

    Updated the article with a link and specifics about the tape. I also discovered that what I thought was 5 mil thick tape is the 1 mil thick Kapton - still an amazing insulator though.

    I didn't buy it online however, rather got it somewhere else locally. I don't know whether you can find that exact size online, but you can definitely cut it.

  • Stokestack - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    And maybe elaborate on why you think the new system is more accurate, considering that (in a digital system) a large range of signal strength does give you "full service".

    Shouldn't a phone show full bars for the entire range of signal strength that gives you totally effective performance? At the weak end is where you see performance variation, so that's where the bars should vary as well.

    What's the point of showing differing numbers of bars through a range that doesn't change the phone's performance?
  • lunarx3dfx - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    The difference, is that rf and digital are two totally different beasts. RF is like nothing you'll ever learn about. I have to deal with it a lot in the work that I do, and while a shift from -117 to -81 doesn't seem like that much, for every 3 dbm gain or loss, you are doubling or halving your signal strength (in wattage), but it still isn't that simple, for example a 10dbm signal will be expressed as 10 mW signal strength, a 20dbm signal will be 100 mW. You can't compare RF with anything else. It is it's own world. Reply
  • rushbc - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    i understand about the RF energy being different than anything, it really is its own world (i know, i work for AT&T).

    but i think stokestack has a good point. if -94 dBm gives you great service and good speed for voice/data, then the end user shouldn't care if the display shows one bar or ten bars--their phone is working, transferring data and voice with no issues. so a large dynamic range of signal strength that shows the end user 5 bars does make sense. five bars simply indicates that you have enough signal to do what you need to do, and your device has enough signal to do what it needs to do.

    but since i do work for AT&T, and since i have talked to AT&T customers, i know that they DO care about the bars. i cannot tell you how many times people will tell me, "hey, i am only getting one bar on my cell phone at my office".
    and i say, "well, can you make and receive calls?"
    and they say, "Yes".
    then i say, "well, can you connect to the internet on your phone without any problems?"
    and they say, "Yes".
    then i say, "well, what is the problem, then, sir?"
    then they say, "but i am only getting one bar!" then i just smile to myself and try not to scream. it's almost like the famous old "who's on first" routine, but in real life.

    so i predict many users will be confused by the "new" bars. and some will be angry. but Apple is doing the right thing by displaying the "more correct" signal bars. honesty really is the best policy.

    Apple should really bite the bullet and completely ditch the whole bars thing.

    it would be another way for Apple to show great leadership, bravery, and innovation. lets just get rid of the silly bars, totally. we need Apple to just go with strict numerical dBm readout. sure people will be confused. sure people will complain. sure there will be a learning curve. but it would be a quick adjustment. and within two years every smartphone in the world would be doing the same thing with numerical readouts in dBm, not bars.
    it's called "standardization" (something completely lacking in signal strength indicators for wireless devices), and it would help the industry, and educate the consumers, and probably improve the wireless networks ability to respond to coverage needs and customer requests for network improvement. it would certainly help wireless consumers better understand how strong or weak their signal really is, and it could help people adjust their expectations accordingly.

    "Death to the Bars!"

    bring on the transparency of dBm numerical readouts on handset displays, i say.

    Disclaimer: I am an AT&T customer and an iPhone owner. I am also an AT&T employee. I do NOT receive any form of compensation for my posts. My posts reflect my own personal opinions and do not necessarily represent AT&T’s positions, strategies or opinions. I also do not possess any "insider knowledge" of future products or future releases. And if I did, I certainly wouldn't tell you! :)
  • anandreader - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    "I just smile to myself and try not to scream..."

    You're not listening to your customers. What they're telling you is that when the signal is weak, the voice quality is very poor. They may not be articulate enough to say that to you but that's the message that's being sent. You're just so fucking self-satisfied with your little syllogism that you're failing to hear the message. At&t's signal is crap in too many locations.

    Your attitude clearly illustrates why people detest At&t.
  • thisma - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    Anandreader, I suspect that rushbc's interpretation is accurate.

    Occasionally a user will have a real problem but describe it using some idea which is quite remote from the actual problem. I find, however, a good match in my comparison between rushbc's statements and how I expect users do express themselves.

    My applicable knowledge, about how people communicate and what concerns users, has been developed during my several years of professionally teaching people how to use technology including, among other things, computers, phones, audio and video equipment, and all manner of peripherals.
  • oPad - Friday, July 23, 2010 - link

    Wait a minute, it sounds like rushbc asked if there's anything wrong other than the bar strength display and they said "no",
    What's to articulate?
  • thisma - Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - link

    Rushbc, I would love that! I fear however that the most prevalent perspective of users is that they don't care about precision of truth until they understand what that precision means. Even then a 5 bar display is so easy to interpret that a person doesn't even have to consciously check the indicator; if it's low you'll notice that out of the corner of your eye. My preference would be to have both the same way, perhaps, as you can optionally have the battery life indicator shown with the percentage of battery life next to it. Reply
  • bigboxes - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Sound waves act very similar. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link


    So I don't think I elaborated enough on how Android's implementation of the signal bar visualization cutoffs mirror standard industry practice - practice which like you say shows just how tolerant the digital system is to noise.

    You're entirely right, there's a large range of bars that give you essentially full service. In fact, with the iPhone 4 it seems fine down to maybe -100 dBm.

    So there are really two schools of thought here:

    Option 1: The range could be compressed to show when signal is essentially good (we're between -100 dBm and -51 dBm), or bad (below -100 dBm) - this is basically what Apple used to be doing.

    Option 2: Distribute the cutoffs evenly (in dBm, not mW of course) so that signal drops are reported in an even, perhaps linear fashion as suggested by the bar heights themselves. This is the route that Apple has taken with iOS 4.1/4.0.1.

    Obviously the reason they've implemented Option 2 is so that the drop doesn't make all the bars disappear. Previously, if you were right above the 4 bar cutoff, and you gripped it tightly in a bare hand, all the bars went away. It made the problem inconsistent and led people to think some devices were affected while others weren't. That's the perception problem, which the bar changes do mitigate.

    The other problem is the drop itself, which nothing short of hardware changes/modifications will change.

  • rs1 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Holding Apple accountable for fixing their bugs should be the only thing required to mitigate the problem. There should be no need to resort to things like tape and gloves. Reply
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    If I understand your statement, you apparently believe that blame and lawsuits are superior to experimentation and knowledge.

    The original article was cited in many other media and probably played an important role in getting the truth out there and help put an end to this issue faster.

    Douglas Adams, through one of his characters said: "I would rather be happy than right anyday"

    This is the king of wisdom of which your comment was deprived.
  • rs1 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    No, you assume too much. Experimentation and knowledge are great, they just don't substitute for holding the responsible-party responsible. My point is just that if Apple does the right thing, owns up to their mistake, and fixes it, there's no need for users to invest their own time and money into fixing someone else's problem. And if Apple does that, then there is no need for lawsuits of any kind.

    If people want to discover what kind of hacks and workarounds are available to fix the issue manually, then good for them. Most people, however, would likely prefer to have the manufacturer fix the defective product properly, so that they don't need to spend their own resources doing so. There is, after all, more valuable knowledge that people could be seeking than how to fix a phone that Apple broke. Especially people as clever as Anand and Brian.
  • dypeterc - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    as the article states, "Whether or not the antenna design manifests itself as an issue really depends on AT&T’s coverage where you’re using the phone."

    just because iPhone 4 has a higher attenuation, doesn't mean there's a problem.

    at&t needs to get its act together and roll out better coverage.

    in addition, if you don't like the fact that it has a high attenuation, you can always return it. everyone is still within the 30-day grace period.
  • Tanker10a - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I could not agree more with your comments. I am currently using the 32GS iPhone and I am absolutely frustrated with AT&T with this coverage issue. From my backyard, I am flanked by two 2G (EDGE) antennas that are approximately 10 miles away according to AT&T Consumer Service department and after screaming at them last Sunday; they still could not solve my problem. It took three to four phone calls plus waiting time in order for them to identify that those towers cannot deliver 3G signals. Contacted AppleCare and they told me to reset my iPhone (never mind the fact that I have done that since iOS4 was deployed)... I think that regardless what kind of phone that you throw at these towers, you will not get the coverage that you are paying for. Truthfully, the iPhone operates great when it is in the company of a Wi-Fi device or 3G. I have received AWESOME coverage in the Carolina Great Smokey mountains than I do from my backyard.
    Bottom line, AT&T needs to own up to this problem.
    As far as the Antenna is concerned, I think Apple is stuck with the positioning of its location due to FCC regulations... And, this is no different than grabbing your typical radio antenna and to experience a signal drop...
  • leexgx - Thursday, July 22, 2010 - link

    i have not seen any other mobile company follow the FCC rule like apple has

    again simple fix buy the bumper case or case like it (none conductive)
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Actually, it is Anand and Brian's job to do those kind of experiment so that we do not have to, and so that we know precisely what kind of product is put on the market, what are their capabilities and if there is a huge amount of hype over something: to translate it to rational and factual information, so that we are not prey to basic marketing evil and limited to the information available on the shelf sticker at best buy.

    this is exactly what tomshardware stopped doing so I'm doubly happy that Anandtech sticks to it.

    so if wearing a glove to hold a phone can prove a point please, do it before I spend my money on the phone because I want to know this.
  • jonup - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    If I understand your statement, you apparently believe that pulling a latex glove out in public and freaking everyone around you every time you need to make a phone call is unacceptable? Reply
  • aj28 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    This whole thing is ridiculous. You know what else doesn't work well when tightly cupped in your left hand? Asymmetrical mice. Reply
  • geogaddi - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    ...and they give us: bumper cases! Reply
  • Gorked - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Thank you for another outstanding article.

    My wife is frustrated because I told her to hold off on upgrading the phone to find out what Apple is going to do but it is always nice to send her your articles so she knows where I am coming from.
  • FATCamaro - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Considering 90% of the people aren't having problems.... Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    [citation needed] Reply
  • rs1 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    And even if it's accurate, a 10% failure rate is huge. Toyota recalled an entire fleet of vehicles over a bug that affected less than 1% of them. Saying that 90% of people don't have problems misses the point entirely.

    A product that doesn't function properly 10% of the time is unreliable, and manufacturers need to be held accountable when they sell an unreliable product to people.
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    on the other hand, a phone dropping calls is less of a safety hazard than a car with a stuck gas pedal.

    not to say that its not anoying and obviously a flaw in the manufacturing or design.
  • rs1 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    True, although sooner or later I'm sure this issue will cause a call to drop in an emergency situation. For instance, if someone has called 911 and the operator is about to give them instructions on how to perform CPR or whatever. It's not as overtly hazardous, but it can still be dangerous under the right circumstances. Reply
  • progr - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    You can't be serious. It's like saying that a company that make bikes (with semi-broken bumpers on 10% of products shipped) must recall the entire fleet of bikes cause, sooner or later, you will find a pregnant woman down the road and you can't take her to the hospital in time. Reply
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    That is about the most retarded thing ever. Lets hold Apple responsible for every 911 call that was dropped due to ATT shitty network.

  • Fri13 - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    Apple told that return rate have been 1.7% from AT&T. And un-happy customers were only 0.55% who had issues with antenna or anything related to it.

    Is that bad? If iPhone 3Gs had 6% return rate the 1.7% (AT&T) is not much at all. Only 1/3 of it and over 3 million already sold. And even that media is triumphing all days, iPhone gets sold out.
  • Botia - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    83% of all statistics are made up on the spot. Reply
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    that's actually 73% Reply
  • glynor - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    You forgot the end of that quote:

    "including this one."
  • kreg37 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    And you killed the joke... Reply
  • geogaddi - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    i can think of at least one other reason your wife might be frustrated... Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Looks simple.

    The band is conductive. They put one around to make the phone look different and pick up a better signal in low signal zones. But they probably did not even think about it and test it with lefties.

    Not that they do not LIKE lefties, but it just never occurred to them.

    Their biggest mistake was, at first, denial. Then they went on to act like it was nothing and that it was easily handled and they should not do anything about it (go buy a bumper).

    For a company that relies so heavily on image and reputation, they should watch what they say, especially when it isn't a PC user that is making the comment.
  • marvdmartian - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    You don't even need to be a lefty to have this problem. I've been right handed my whole life (well, at least, since I was little and decided to go with my right hand), and still hold my phone with my left hand, against my left ear.

    I just hear phone conversations better that way. Plus, it frees up my right hand to still fiddle-f**k around with something while I'm on the phone (like take notes, etc).
  • jonup - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    same here. for some reason I hear better in my left year. I do not know if it has to do with the wind noise (I noticed it while driving) since my left year is closer to the door window. I also prefer steering with my left hand fiddle around with my right hand. Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I agree with that, but we are talking about engineers here.

    Something simple and common might never occur to them in product design.

    This looks like they made a design that would get better reception, but never fully tested how sensitive it would be to occlusion by the user....

    Hmmm, I think the reason so many right-handers listen with their left is not because they hear better, but because we dial with our right! ;)
  • Weslape - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    How do you do to show signal strength in dBm instead of bars ? Reply
  • delamart - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    look at the previous iPhone 4 signal issue article. He explains how he gets the dBm reading. Reply
  • Weslape - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I'm sorry but I did not found. :-/

    Is it also possible to do that on an iPod touch (for Wi-fi), and how ?
  • crimson117 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link Reply
  • delamart - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    As for the previous iPhone 4 it's great to read an article with some solid fact checking behind it. Rather than the 1'000'000 blog articles out there just rehashing the same sad "pseudo-facts".

    I hope that tomorrow's press conference will be about a constructive answer to this design flaw. And that it won't delay international iPhone production (I'm really dreading this, living in Switzerland and waiting for my new iPhone...)

    Keep up the good work!
  • ZipSpeed - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Awesome article. I'm truly hoping more that just a software fix. I was planning to get a bumper or case for the device anyway but nobody should have to resort to putting on any sort of insulation to realize the full capability of the phone. Reply
  • Tom54 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    It would be interesting to see how additional layers of Kapton affect the drop in signal strength to separate the effect you're seeing from electrical contact and the effect of distance. Reply
  • txatty - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    There have been a lot of complaints of issues with the proximity sensor on the iphone 4. Mine was replaced yesterday due to this issue. Calls are repeatedly muted, placed on hold or even disconnected because the screen activates during a call.

    Apple's iphone forum had a post with approx 1700 replies on this issue which remains unanswered by Apple.

    The post was locked because Apple said it was too long and a continuation post (with now 150 replies) was started.

    Do you have any information on this issue? Hardware related? Software fixable? Apple is replacing iphones (some people are on their 5th phone) but the problem remains.

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I just posted an update talking about the proximity sensor issue. I just encountered it for the first time two days ago, we'll keep digging though and report back if we find anything.

    Take care,
  • stevessvt - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    The proximity sensor if you get the chance? Reply
  • fitten - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    And the bluetooth issue. Reply
  • stevessvt - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    All I did was post a link to this on apples forums and they took it off. Unbelievable. Reply
  • Snotling - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    unbelievable that they tolerate all the negative nonsense anybody posts anywhere and would prevent serious information from being found by their customers. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    "I can’t stress enough that this issue impacts all users. The variability is in how strong of a signal you have to begin with. That’s the absolute only reason there’s debate in these discussions from phone to phone. At my desk I don’t get great reception on AT&T. With the iPhone 4 I’m usually at -96dBm. If I keep a tight grip on the phone or if I’m holding it to send text messages I can sometimes lose all signal entirely. This is a combination of poor reception at my house and the fact that the 4 loses more of its signal than other phones when held certain ways."

    Plain and simple, this above paragraph should have been in the 1st article. You and I both knew this back when the first article broke, but it was skirted around intentionally and every single person who denied that a problem existed referenced the Anandtech initial review. They will ignore this update/redux unless Apple comes out tomorrow and confesses to the design flaw.

  • pr0nstar69 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    You keep talking about the antenna as being the determining factor in terms of reception and holding a connection under poor signal conditions. I was wondering how you determined that this is really the case.

    The iPhone 4 also changed baseband hardware providers, from (IIRC) Infineon on the 3GS to Skyworks on the 4. I would imagine that they also play a role in the quality of signal maintained.
  • VahnTitrio - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Working at 3M we have plenty of tape for all applications. 3M calls it's Kapton tape "Polyimide" and it does come as thin as 1/4". The number on the roll is 5413, and will probably run you about $20. It has tons of uses, we use it most often to secure thermocouples to electrical components. Reply
  • espiritiv - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    $7 bucks!
  • stevessvt - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    From iTunes now... Reply
  • Bare - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Hey Brian and Anand,

    I just registered so that I could thank you for both your initial iPhone 4 review where you first detailed the antenna issue better than anyone else has to date, and also for this follow-up that discussed both the new signal bars in 4.1 and further discussed fixes for the real antenna issue. Your reviews are what sold me on this being an issue on all new iPhone 4 devices, and I couldn't agree more with your statements about how much impact this actually has on each iPhone 4 owner depends solely on the initial signal strength from AT&T. You have totally cleared away any of my confusion regarding this issue -- if only more people would read your blog!

  • boden - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I suspect Y'all are going to have to run these tests again this weekend. Reply
  • slickr - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Can you stop being so PRO Apple and so PRO Iphone 4.
    Its more than obvious that Iphone 4 is crap, its got broken antenna, broken USB port, broken Bluetooth and its costs 4x times that the amount it costs to develop it.

    In simple words, its totally broken and overly expensive. So please stop defending Apple and truing to make them look good.

    You Anandtech have a reputation to keep and this is the easiest way to loose it.

    I've been following this website for more than 8 years and I hate it when I see hidden favoritism and/or hidden advertisement for companies.

    You have banner space and that's where ads should start and END.
  • canontk - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I'm not trying to defend Anand and his love for Apple, but you must understand this site started from his love for computers and things technical. I've been coming to this site for over 12 years now and I dislike seeing the constant Apple articles just as much as the next guy, but I respect Anand and most of his staff.

    You'll just have to learn to deal with it or find another site. The problem is that most sites are big on Apple news and reviews just to get the traffic. I don't think this is why Anandtech posts Apple news and reviews, I think it's because they really like their devices.

    We get good information from their interests, we just have to hope some of those are the same as ours.
  • jonup - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I think what you said is worrisome(?). Fact is that Apple has a marginal presence in the cell phne market (though growing at very fast pace) but they products receive dispropotional presence on review site, even on sites like AT where cell phones are not the core content.
    Apple is getting PR (intential or not) that sometimes even I want to get an iPhone. I almost installed a Hachintosh a few months ago. I meen I will never (!?) get an iPhone cause they do not make them in the form factor I prefer (small, light, and durable).
  • SunSamurai - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Marginal presence? Apple has a 15-20% share in the smart phone industry. How is that marginal?

    They dont make ANY smartphone in a small light form factor. What in the h3ll are you talking about and how does that have anything to do with the iphone vs any other smart phone?
  • jonup - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    15-20% of the US smartphone market and that is namely because pin-point marketing like the one in question. (At one point even I was convinced to by an iPhone, silly me!)
    A year old Nokia E52 - 3.4Oz. 54cc. You didn't hear about this one, did you? Sorry they were to busy reviewing iPhone 3GS.
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    15-20% is not negligible. Your excuses are pathetic.

    Nokia E52:
    Dimensions: 116 x 49 x 9.9 mm
    Weight: 98 g

    Dimentions: 115 mm x 58.6 mm x 9.3 mm
    Weight: 137g


    Have fun with your small-ass screen. I have no connection issues on my iphone. No one cares about the E52.
  • jonup - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    That is 40% more weight and 12% more volume. The E52 is a year old phone. Compared to the year old 3Gs that is 40% and 55% more weight and volume.
    And then comes the building quality. Check out a review of the phone to see what I mean. As a testimony, my old 6301 had only a small dent on the forged aluminum battery cover after 2.5+ years of abuse of falling on concrete.
    3.5" is definately better than 2.4" but it does not provide for significantly better usability. if 2.4" is a limitation for performing a particular task, chances are 3.5" would still not be enough. Besides you give up the single handed imput capability.
  • Tegeril - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Sorry, SunSamurai is right. No one cares about the E52. Reply
  • canontk - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    How is what I said worrisome? Worrisome because the people that write for this site like Apple products? A lot of people do. I don't. I have an ipod nano (first gen) and I'm sorry I wasted the money on it.

    I won't get an iphone and I don't like seeing constant Apple news. But like I said, Anand likes his Macs and Apple devices, good for him. He's going to do articles on what he likes.

    He also seems to be very fond of SSD's and their market share is extremely low. I don't see people complaining about his 15 page super detailed articles and constant updates on firmware.
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Yeah exactly. Anand is doing articals on what is changing the industry. SSDs or Apple or the Droid review.

    Love them or hate them, Apple is an industry lead, and things they produce are copied and often improved upon. We owe them a dept of gratitude. Do not think for a moment we'd have something like Driod if not for them. We'd have the MS Kin phones and Google would not have had to make anything close to the current droids.

    This is business.
  • jonup - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Except that Anand is reviewing all kinds of SSDs not just one brand. If Anand was reviewing Intel of OCZ SSds 75%+ of the time then your analogy would have been correct. How many Symbian phones has this or most computer-centric site have reviewed since July 2007? The platform is used by Nokia and SonyEricsson. The two combined maintain more than 50% of the cell phone market. You would think they need a little more representation.
    @ SunSamurai bellow:
    I've grown up to like Apple products lately (not the brand) but Apple is the one that copies and improves upon others. Neither iPod was the first portable player, nor the iPhone the first touchscreen phone, nor iPad the first tablet, nor iPhone 4 the first videophone. I do not question Apples influence on the IT market, but simply asking how much of the hype is result of dispropotionate review coverage.
  • SunSamurai - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    People like you are not missed. All you are is an apple basher. The phone has bugs that need to be worked out, calling broken is foolish and only shows your maturity and bias. Reply
  • trochevs - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Mr. Anand Lal Shimpi,

    I love your articles, because they are very accurate, fact based, and clearly separate fact from personal options. But I feel in this particular case you are letting your personal love for Apple to ignore the facts a bit here. I have big problem with following two sections:

    "We have consistently argued that the 4’s antenna is a design choice by Apple. As we’ve seen in our testing there are situations where the iPhone 4’s antenna makes things better (e.g. holding onto calls with very low signal strength) and other situations where the design makes them worse (e.g. holding it wrong in situations with low signal strength)."

    "The iPhone 4 is better at holding onto calls and data at very low signal levels. We’ve mentioned this one before but it’s worth reiterating. The new antenna does let me make calls and transmit data at very low signal strength. With the iOS 4.1 update I was able to make a call at -115dB on the 3GS, however the call did drop within a minute of starting it. By comparison I was able to have a much longer conversation without dropping the call at -120dB on the 4. By no means is this a scientific comparison, but anecdotally both Brian and I feel that the low signal strength performance of the iPhone 4 is better than the 3GS."

    First some facts that I have picked up while I study RF tech in order to get my M.S. in EE:
    1.The signal level is measured by the receiver circuits. Usually it is the voltage that regulate the Automatic Gain Loop that is used to maintain constant signal level at the input of detector circuit.
    As result any antenna gains would be clearly visible as improve signal level at all time.
    2.The antenna is passive device as result it have static efficiency and antenna gain does not depends on signal strength.

    I would like to point out to you inconsistency in your analysis:

    1. If you can maintain better call at -120dB with iPhone4, but you can't do the same with iPhone 3Gs proves that iPhone4 have better receiver/decoder circuit then iPhone 3Gs only.
    2.If the iPhone 4 antenna is better then 3Gs you are going to see better signal level on iPhone 4 in anywhere like places where the signal is strong and especially where the signal is weak. But all your test clearly shows that receiver in iPhone 4 has to work harder in order to compensate for bad antenna.

    To remind you: “My mother always taught me that honesty is the best policy ...

    So please be truthful to this statement and stop with the apologies on Apple's behalf. The only apology we need is one coming from Apple and it should be very short: “We made a mistake and we are going to fix it” that's it. Stop saying that iPhone 4's antenna is some kind of engineering compromise, because it is not. The antenna design is crap. Credits for the better operation of iPhone 4 in low signal are due to the base-band chip designer/manufacture. Please acknowledge that, they really deserve it, no Apple.
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    The ntenna design is not crap. It simply need a revision to fullfill what it was aiming for. If it were crap then they would need to fully redesign it. They do not. Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    fast fix is just give out the bumper case and have it come with every iphone

    if i was going to get an iphone (and i am not) the first thing i would buy is the case or full case(protect the back and front) as it not that hard to shatter the screen or the back now

    most of my house all runs on Android based phones here from when posting(apart form my main phone thats HTC HD1 WIN 6.1 for business use but i am considering going all Android as text input is faster under my desire phone)
    T-mobile G1 thats been passed down (main issue bat is crap had to fit an 2000mha bat to make the phone usefull) ,
    upgrade to T-mobile HTC desire as my second phone HD1 main (bigger bat as default seems to last day and an half now),
    Orange - Sony X10 {big one} works well big screen and big cam on it (only bad thing is seems to be an finger smugs magnet on the screen)
    Orange Samsung Galaxy S (that looks more like an iphone with the middle button)
  • iwod - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    I dont think anand is Pro Apple, it sounds more like you are Anti Apple.

    The Antenna is not broken. It may have faults and its problem. But it still does calls and data in most if not all situation. Well thanks to US which has poor coverage and signal from AT&T. You will be worse then others around the world.

    If i put how Motorola's design and tune their Antenna as Standard. Then pretty much 95% of all phone sold by Non Motos have problems. Or according to your wording, Broken.

    It doesn't come with a broken USB Port.

    Bluetooth is an Software problem.

    If you can not stand software problems, then dont even go on to internet. Because every single devices on earth have it. And you should complain about Windows Mobile first.
  • slickr - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    O please spare me the lecture.
    I have not expressed in any way that I'm anti Apple now have I, but when I see a bad device and Anandtech staff trying to defend Apple and say that users are wrong for "holding it wrong", its just the bars and not the antenna that is wrong, makes me sick.

    I have huge respect for this website, but right now some of that respect is shattered.

    You sir, can not comprehend the facts! If the antenna can't catch signal if you are holding it in a particular way that is considered broken. That's like Razor mouse not registering movements if you put your hand on it in a particular way. Yes it may work 80% of the time, but that does not change the fact it wont work 20% of the time.

    There are several reports of broken or in other words faulty USB port. In some instances on some iPhone 4 the USB makes an electrical surge when connected with a USB cable and it gets destroyed. This is firstly not safe for the health of the users and screws your iPhone 4, so you need to get it to service to repair the broken USB port.

    How do you know bluetooth problems are software? This is the Apple favoritism. It may or may not be software problem, but the fact is there is a problem with it.

    If you go buy Apple I don't care, its your personal opinion, but having a huge and well known website advertise Apple in these articles if beyond all credibility !!!
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Its not considered broken, because it still works. Try the dictionary before telling people to comprehend words ;) Reply
  • slickr - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    It only works part time, so its broken.

    Take this for example: Your brand new $500 dollars TV all of a sudden stops working, than after placing it in a different position starts working again, than the problem occurs again and you move it again. No matter what you do it still keeps reoccurring and the only way to fix it is by buying additional stuff for it.

    I consider that broken and would never want to buy a TV from that manufacturer again, but it the case of Apple's iPhone 4 its being defended and promoted as user problem for "holding it wrong" Come on.

    And that is only one of the multiple problems Apple has with the iPhone!
  • anandreader - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    It's broken for some people, not for others. I don't experience the problem because I avoid touching the antenna at the gap. I'm also right handed so that's easy for me. For a left-handed person, yeah it's going to be broken if they can't hold it the way they'd like to hold it.

    For me, the phone is better than any other cell phone I've had. When I'm in a strong signal area, the phone sounds like a landline phone - the voice on the other end is crisp and static free.

    Bottom line - the antenna is only an issue for some, not all, people. Your statement that the antenna is broken is overly broad.
  • slickr - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    You just proved my point, even if only 10 out of 10 million people are affected its broken. And it could also happen to you and any other in any case, just touch is in the spot and the antenna loose connection and whoala a problem.

    Plus iPhone 4 is crap in other areas too, I'd gladly take the Samsung or Nokia N900 any day over the iPhone!
  • relentlessfocus - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks for your professional approach and your in-depth analysis. It's a shame that Apple didn't handle this better, maybe they've learned something for the future and will be a better company as a result. I have to say that I love my iPhone 4.

    Keep up the good work!

  • AlexE - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    "...we identified a worst case signal drop of around 24 dBm..."

    should say "a drop of around 24 dB". The difference between two referenced dB values (-10 dBm and -34 dBm for example) is actually expressed in dB, not dBm. As an electrical engineer, I couldn't leave that uncommented :p
  • Brian Klug - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Dang, I thought I fixed all those! I totally agree - drops are dB, while the values themselves are dBm. Fixed now! ;)

  • Cat - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Please don't use a marketing term. Many people hold the phone in a way that is bad for the iPhone 4, and have held it that way for more than a decade. Calling this grip "wrong" is wrong. Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Yep...There is no wrong. A Phone should always work if the signal is reading good no matter how I hold it.

    As an aside, I came to this site originally because I built a PC and wanted info on the latest PC hardware and needed reviews on what was the best overclocking components and best bang for the buck video cards etc. There is a reason I didn't buy a Mac and am not reading a Mac centric website instead. I don't give a crap about Apple products or their newest laptop that is $2000 too expensive (I don't really care what type of battery life you can claim, I am always near an outlet and if I'm not, I'm only hours away from one and my laptop will work fine for those short couple hours). If I wanted that info I'd go to an Apple/Mac site and read it all there.

    So in truth, I agree with those who say that the Apple articles and apologetic tone is out of hand.
  • Snaafu - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    For someone that doesn't give a crap about Apple products you know a lot about price, battery life, and how to hold the iphone :p Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Yeah...your argument is what? worthless as Apple articles defending flawed hardware. Reply
  • SharksFan - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    What a painful argument.

    So -24db drops means "broken", then what is the Nexus One's -17 drop?

    3/4 broken?

    What about -17db drops against a -113 cutoff? Isn't that identical to -24db drops against a -121db cutoff?

    So I guess the Nexus One is broken too?
  • mesiah - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Did anyone else chuckle at the thought of Anand's cheek wanting to get some "Facetime" with a contact? Reply
  • eliotw - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    If the iPhone 4 is able to transmit voice and data at lower signal levels then in most scenarios doesn't that compensate for the possible increased attenuation? So doesn't it generally perform on par with the 3GS and sometimes it's better? Why would this deserve some rushed urgent "fix" ? Reply
  • bplewis24 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Because it does not. Look up any number of videos on the subject: Reply
  • eliotw - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Anand's results shown in this article seem to show otherwise. In the video you linked it's not too surprising that data rates would slow down as the iPhone adjusted for the sudden attenuation in signal strength. That "test" could have been better if they let the phone stabilize before attempting to load data. I don't question that signal attenuation is happening but based on the results here is seems like overall it's as good or better than the 3GS. Reply
  • ajb - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    It deserves an urgent fix because although it might be better in some situations (when it's on a desk and not being held or only lightly held with two fingers on the center edges of the phone) in many situations with a weak signal present just holding the phone normally can attenuate the signal enough to drop the call. Based on my own experience, you don't need anywhere near a "death grip" to drop a call in such situations. That's a real problem and Apple is only paying it lip service. A free bumper, even though it would likely solve the problem, is far short of a fix for a phone that has been marketed as the thinest coolest phone of all smartphones. Many people, me included, don't want to have to put a bumper on the phone. I bought an Invisishield to protect the phone ($30 for front and back, plus $13 for Best Buy to install) for the specific reason of not having to put the phone in a case! Reply
  • aj28 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    This whole thing is ridiculous. You know what else doesn't work well when tightly cupped in your left hand? Asymmetrical mice. Reply
  • geogaddi - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    i can think of at least one other thing that doesn't work well when cupped tightly in my left hand... Reply
  • Snaafu - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the information and work you guys put into getting the information out to us. Brand doesn't matter to me, keep reviewing Apple and all the others!! Reply
  • logicbus - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    FTA: "The range of signals that correspond to bars three and four are the same width, and bar two is only slightly less."

    I had to read this sentence a few times. At first, I thought it meant that that bars three and four are the same width -- as they were in iOS 4.0 -- and that bar two is only slightly less [wide] -- than it was in iOS 4.0.

    After the re-reads I concluded that the authors meant that in 4.0.1, bars two, three, and four are now all roughly the same width as each other, whereas in 4.0, they were less consistent. Maybe the language should be updated to make this more clear.
  • sthaznpride17 - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Wow at the people saying Anand is biased towards Apple. Seriously, read Engadget or Tech Crunch's MG Siegler articles if you want to know who really kisses Steve Jobs' ass. Anandtech and Arstechnica have provided the best coverage regarding the iPhone 4 and have by far the most objective articles out of any tech site I have been to. Props to these guys for not being shills for Apple or any other company for that matter. Reply
  • MrBrownSound - Thursday, July 15, 2010 - link

    Bigger bars = better network indeed Reply
  • shchoy - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    A solid article. This is exactly the reason why I keep coming back to Anandtech for good tech reads. Reply
  • mac11 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Glad I had the patience to read thru this long article. It's logical, unbiased, THOROUGH, and grammatical(meakes it more pleasant to read). After reading 1,000 article titles, and over 100 articles referring to the Apple antenna issue / non-issue, I finally come to a rather complete understanding of the matter. I feel at ease now knowing what needs to be known.

    My conclusion: iPhone 4 antenna has greater extended sensitivities, but more susceptible to interference from hand grips than 3GS or Nexus One. And the call can be dropped due to this deeper interference if your starting signal was weak enough to start with. And the re-formulated signal strength bars gives much more truthful representation of your area signal strength.

    Thank you AnadTech.. kudos, and my respecta to your great journalism.
  • a different user name - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    How are they showing signal power dB dBm instead of bars on iPhone 4? Reply
  • jmlev - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    How do I switch from bars to a -db reading on my iPhone4, like you show in the pictures? Reply
  • gypsy1962 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Guys, as usual, 1st class commentary! I highly applaud your technical and analytical skills, a skill-set sorely missing in much of the commentary flowing around the net these days... Reply
  • marraco - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    The olders bars jus were a hoax to cheat buyers into thinkin than the device got better signal than competing products.
    Again the same history. Marketing propaganda.
    Now also Apply blames the buyer over a design flaw, pretending that the signal is lost because the owner grab the device in wrong way.

    This is from a company that pretends to charge high prices for “better” quality.
  • betanerd - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    When you referred to the "signal reporting lie that started with the 3g". Are you referring to When it was released people complained about poor signal. Then Apple released an "update" that supposedly fixed it. I remember something of the sort happening. Perhaps the pr/updates have all be to make owners feel better till the next itteration. 3g complaint: bad signal-->update disproportionate(signal readout inflation) bar formula. ip4 complaint: signal drops/bad signal -->update more proportionate bar formula(your signal isn't really that good) + bigger, easy to read, confidence(ala enzyte) inspiring bars. Has/can anyone checked older releases to see if this is the case. If so it may make the argument/lawsuit stronger. Not that I wish any ill will towards Apple.

    +Some have mentioned a possible problem with they way the micro sims are cut. Where the contacts touch the metal sim tray which touches the metal antenna band. Any truth to that?

    +Perhaps placebo effect Have any reports come in about different serial numbers? Such as 8___=death grip susceptible, 7____=not susceptible? from Mac rumors it may have been debunked but, i was from a sample of 1.

    + Have any owners that say they have no problems come forward to have their phones tested or recored the testing by death grip and multimeter?

    I'm not sure how much it matters...Free cases till Sept30!
  • Hxx - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    apple announced that they will give a free protective case
  • v12v12 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I love it... watching the illogical, the brainwashed and zombified consumer-cattle actually try and defend a company (irregardless of if it's "Apple" or not) that's been factually proven over many, many years to actively and purposefully defraud consumers with falsified and heavily padded performance (G4/5 anyone?) data. Documented and legally proven accounts of advertising and marketing fraud (search it yourself if you're gullible enough to ask) to further profits. Settling many justified lawsuits out of court (Creative for 100MIL?!) as to not have to admit “wrong doing,” or face the laws they’ve broken…
    __This company is well known (factually documented) for using strong-arm tactics to control vendors AND even their own consumer base... Yes "Apple" tells you it's YOU that has the problem, even if it's them. Blah blah, this isn't a bash, for these shady practices apply to many other competing companies as well.

    So here's your insanity; you the consumer-cattle (pleb) are required by law to pay in full, up front for this device. They are required to render to you a FULLY WORKING device for which you paid. You find out that the device is bugged/not working 100% AS ADVERTISED (there's a law for that also) and now you're looking for retribution, but are told "sorry, there's no problem." It's YOUR problem I guess? Mean while what's going on behind the scenes are nothing but meetings on how to keep the "problem" internalized, until they can find a 'solution'..." in the meantime you are left with little recourse to solving this issue until Apple tells you??? Ever tried to return an iPhone, you'd think you were trying to return a bomb from the vehement response from the "geniuses" at the Apple store... So what now, yep just sit there and WAIT for Apple to tell you what or if there's a problem (regardless if Anand/Gadget/someone else proves it) at all... Then more waiting on a "solution," but all the while WHO is reimbursing you for your time, hassle, lack of service, AND interest on your money they now have possession of...

    Why is it that as the consumer, you/we have to go through all these hoops, lies, tricks and turmoil over a device that's been PAID FOR IN FULL? Turn the logic around and apply the same habitual shenanigans to consumer behavior, and Apple will send you a court summons to get "their" money asap! Heck they might refuse service to you based on your shoddy track-record. "Oh you say my check/CC didn't clear... sorry it's cleared, there's something wrong with your machines kthxbye..." "What, you want me to send you extra money b/c the 1st installment didn't fully cash out? Sorry I'll get you the money when I get it..." "Oh you want the money right now, and extra for your troubles... yeah umm, I'll let ya know when I get the rest (I still say it's your machines in error), but for now, here's $5 to tide you over..."

    Would this bull-shat work if the tables were turned, hell fscking NO it wouldn't work... so who in their right mind expects to get what they've been told they'll get? This crap is just laughable... year after year, product "upgrade" after upgrade; you are still getting hustled by Apple/Vzn/big-business and there's naves out there so fanatical and brainwashed into defending these overt, mega greed based institutions. Lol INSANITY… But there’s relief in knowing no matter how factual, logical, common-sense based your diatribe is, SOME cattle just won’t ever get it. They’ll keep buying, supporting these businesses that want nothing but to rip you off and leave you with whatever you get; “working” or not… Slave mentality to the MAX… lmfao (Though I do wish Anand/Tom etc would stop with the hand slapping and stick these criminals in the FIRE they deserve.)
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link


    Show us on the doll where apple touched you.
  • Levictus - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Do you get paid to defend Apple from criticism or something? Because you seem a little too obsessed with arguing with people who criticize Apple. I mean if you like their products or are into Steve Jobs, good for you. You need to understand that there are people who have other interests in life than Apple's products and marketing. Reply
  • SharksFan - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    They probably just read the article and realized they were as well off with an iPhone 4 signal wise vs the compared Nexus One, so they stopped worrying.

    -121db cutoff and -24 signal attentuation means the phone should be good till -97db on average, before you grab it hard.

    -121 cutoff and -20 signal attenuation means the phone should be good till -101db on average.

    -97db vs -98db when compared to Nexus One when held "hard", and -101 v -102 when compared to Nexus One when held "normally".

    Those are pretty much identical cutoff's btw.

    So I guess you should be clamoring for a Nexus One recall too....

    Maybe we can sue Google?
  • leexgx - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    i did not even read that comment Reply
  • gilesrulz - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    First, thank you for your two well reasoned and reported articles on this subject. Would you be willing to update the article to discuss Apple's indication that attenuation caused by conductivity is not the issue, and that it is caused by the normal physics of being meat bags? Reply
  • steve.h - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Yes! This is exactly what I am also wondering, and something I haven't seen addressed anywhere else. If the problem is mostly due to the conductivity of the skin interfering with the antenna, Apple hasn't been completely truthful in comparing their problems with problems faced by other manufacturers. It seems like a fairly simple test to perform, I am surprised none of the tech blogs I read have tried to address this yet. Of course anandtech is the only place any actual information gathering was done and reported in the first place, most of the rest was just fear mongering.

    Again, I am convinced that this is a non-issue either way for most users, since it only affects performance in a small number of cases. However, I'd be interested to see if Apple really was being intentionally misleading in their press conference by comparing their issues to other manufacturers.
  • atomez - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    I got an iPhone 3G with OS4 (iPhone 4 no yet available here) and the same "grip of deat" happens! It usually got 5 bars signal strenght. Using the left hand GOD it dropped to 2 bars. Now with OS4.1 it shows 3 bars and drops to the same 2 bars on GOD. And you know what? It never dropped a call! So it's working fine for me. I understand the iPhone 4 will be the same.

    It's not a problem, it's a feature. Get used to it.

    No one is fooling you. If you don't like it, just don't buy it. If you have it, go get the free bumper. Or just return it and get your money back.
  • Polakapalooza - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Essentially, then, you are equating — and, it appears, correctly so — the iPhone 4 with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "little girl," to wit:

    There was a little girl,
    Who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.
  • jms102285 - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Might I recommend to the readers who are upset at the passive-apple/anti-MS dynamic here an alternative:

    For the past few years I have been coming here for the news on the latest/greatest reviews digging into the meat and potatoes of cutting edge hardware. Lately I've been very very disappointed at the disproportionate amount of content regarding Apple vs. the release of other new phones.

    I understand that website hits lead to more advertising revenue and that Apple news gets hits, but couple that with the dare I say passive nature towards Apples mistakes versus other manufacturers' mistakes and it really hurts the integrity of what I come here for.

    I also have been less than happy with the IT computing section as they really don't discuss much there. It seems like an afterthought compared to other sections of the site.

    So peace out Anand, good luck here.
  • SunSamurai - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    You wont be missed.

    Running off because of one too many apple related articles. Talk about childish.
  • screensurfer - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    Just a few of things I noticed:

    1) Apple found 3 phones that have similar problems. Fine. I can find a dozen that don't have such "grave" problem. The problem with iPhone 4 is that its attenuation is "a record" for a smartphone when the hand touches it.

    2) Apple took 22 days to find that the solution... is to patch it with a case. Bah!

    3) AppleCare data: it's flawed in 2 ways: First, they should only present it when the 30 days are over, to have a more apples-to-apples comparison vs. 3GS (who's data might not be the same time period). Second, the fact that iPhone 4 is a much better device than 3GS: people are holding to them. Regardless, this is not an excuse to keep a design flaw.

    4) ATT returns rate only. Where are Apple stores numbers? Could they show a different figure? I believe so, otherwise Steve would have shown their own numbers.

    5) (My favorite lie with numbers technique): Average cell phone drops 1 call per 100. If iPhone4 drops <1 pp more than 3GS, it means that it drops up to more 100% more calls than 3GS!!!!!!!

    6) They have figured out a better hardware that prevents this, they're just unwilling to recall the inicial production. Why? First, 30th September deadline; second, Steve implied it during the presentation that they were working on a hardware fix that "defies physics".

    Please don't lie with numbers. I hope this helps to clarify the PR BS!
  • Snotling - Friday, July 16, 2010 - link

    "Steve implied it during the presentation that they were working on a hardware fix that "defies physics"."

    yeah, I'm sure Steve Jobs will try hard to defeat the laws of physics...

    do you realize how silly you sound?
  • screensurfer - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    No. Care to explain? It's not my words, it's his (something like this): "we haven't found a solution to defy the laws of physics. YET!", i.e., after September 30th we'll have a different antenna system that doesn't drop calls so easily Reply
  • barelyinaudible - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    I keep seeing this article quoted as "proof" to apple's signal problem. However, I am finding that you are leaving out one rather important piece of information -- Your reference.

    Are you measuring in dBc, dBJ, dBm, dBi, dBd, dBq? There are literally hundreds of different reference points to choose from?

    Also, dB is a logarithmic function - What is starting point for the attenuation? 100 dB? 30 dB?

    Going from 120 - 100 dB is a MUCH MUCH bigger drop than from 30 - 10 dB -- since dB increases exponentially.

    I think this article is being intellectually dishonest by not providing proper information to your readers (read: 85% of statistics are made up on the spot.)
  • ameridian - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    There are 22 occurrences in this article referrings to dBm's as the unit of measure. I'd advise reading the article before posting comments. Reply
  • leeseng - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Hi anand,
    Full tight grip is about tight grip with another palm cover up the phone as well. That's very similar to how a tight-grip-fellow talking over the phone call.

    I just did a test. Full-tight-grip cost -24dBm in my htc desire. Where as tight grip cost -12dBm. What about iPhone4?
  • rushbc - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    my favorite quote from the article is this one:
    "Ultimately this is why I consider Apple’s design here to be unnecessarily risky. Introducing a change with stylistic and technical benefits where the downside is limited but potentially very noticeable is just ballsy."

    i agree and would like to add the following:

    so is creating and mass-producing a $700 smartphone out of glass!!
    that is pure Steve Jobs "balls to the wall, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead, F 'em if they don't like it" ballsy. love ya, Steve (and J.Ive), but you guys may be a little too aggressive sometimes in your design decisions.

    i love my iphone 4, it's great, it's fast, it's beautiful, it works super for ALL of my needs--yes even phone calling/signal strength is great--but i am in constant fear of dropping it. dropping a $700 piece of glass would suck, because, guess what? glass breaks when you drop it!

    ...but try not dropping something that you carry around with you every single day, wherever you go, and are constantly using it throughout each day, picking it up, putting it down, taking it out of pocket, putting it back in pocket, etc. not an easy requires constant care and vigilance to not drop the darn thing. and yes, glass can be slippery, so theres that, too.

    love the phone, hate the stress!
  • Griswold - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Get one of the free bumpers. It would be the first I'd do with a glass sandwich like that. Reply
  • chedy5sche - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    thank you for sharing, this website is good, you can go and see it
  • ajb - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    I notice that in the photos of the iPhone 4 compared to the 3GS you were holding the iPhone 4 in your left hand (presumably having much more contact with the sensitive area of the antenna aray) while the photo of the 3GS depicts you holding the phone in your right hand. Could this have resulted in whole or in part for the larger drop of signal strength with the iPhone 4? Trust me, I'm not trying to defend the iPhone 4 - I've had enough problems of my own with maintaining a signal. I only ask to make sure that the numbers quoted are accurate.

    Also, I have noticed a very discernable difference in wi-fi performance at the weak end of the wi-fi bar scale (2 out of 3 wi-fi bars). My 3GS did much better in performance than does my 4. I sometimes get the impression that the phone's alogorithm at that wif-fi signal strength can't make up its mind whether it wants to be on 3G or wi-fi, which even with 2 bars should be and with the 3GS always was much faster than 3G. I do believe I read somewhere that there might be a problem with not releasing expired IP addresses, but I don't think that accounts for all of the problems I have been having because even after turning off wi-fi, moving closer to my wireless router, turning wi-fi back and, and walking back to where I originally was, I continue to experience the problem. Have you done any wi-fi testing? Do you have any insights into this problem? Any idea if this is a wide-spread problem?
  • codeachrome - Saturday, July 17, 2010 - link

    Try Reply
  • anandreader - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    Could you clarify what you did there?

    I'd like to enable dBm instead of bars on my iPhone.

  • Fri13 - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    "While the software update obviously does not and cannot address the design of the antenna itself - or make the drop from holding the phone any less - it does change the way the issue is perceived among users. "

    Actually the algorithm should effect the reception. The firmware (where the algorithm is placed) is responsible to use more or less power (W) to boost the signal what phone antenna is receiving. I have heard that max output is 2W. With 1W boost you gain -30dB.

    While the bars tells the signal strength from cellphone to tover, the algorithm needs to compensate the drop/rise of the signal strength so it would not drop off. So if the max drop of is -24dB and before the iOS 4.0.1 the 1-4 bars were merely calculating -22dB range before drop out, the boost was never enough to keep the cellphone in the network (like you had -22dB signal, you touched and you got -24dB drop and algorithm boosted only -15dB, you were -7dB over the needed signal strength).

    As anandtech has noted, software can not affect the hardware itself. The software can not eliminate the -24dB drop what is coming from hand (and touch). But the software can make the drop smaller by boosting the signal to needed level.

    What is the needed level? Stronger signal = bigger power consuming -> less talk time / stand-by time. Needed level is simply that what gives good enough voice quality and keeps data transfer at maximum. It is not wise to overrun the power use so the battery is empty more faster.

    And do people remember when Apple did improve the battery life in the 3Gs time with software patch? That would be very easy to do just by making the signal boost algorithm such that it does not use so much power = weaker boosting.
  • MichaelEmpire - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    If anybody can suggest the way or utility to have indicator in DB ? Other than resore from the previuose jailbroken phone.

    Thank you.
  • 386DX - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    Great job once again. While your look at the iPhone4 and its antenna issue is fairly complete there is one more thing I and I'm sure others would be interest in. We know that the bumper appears to fix the antenna issue with the iphone 4 but it would be interested in seeing if using a bumper has any effect on the battery life. Looking at the original iPhone4 review comparing battery life I can't help notice that the 4 has a 16% higher cappacity battery but only gave 12% running time when using wifi over the 3GS. Yet when it came to 3G and talk time it gave 38-58% more running time. This leads me to believe the gain in battery life is mainly due to the external antenna design (allowing the phone to use less W to maintain signal). I wonder if using a bumper would affect battery life possibily because the phone may need to run the transmitter at a higer power to maintain the same signal. Reply
  • tzikis - Sunday, July 18, 2010 - link

    Hi Brian, sorry to bring this up again, but the link you provided does not mention the width of the tape. Could you please measure it and let us know what is the proper width for a tape that will perfectly fit the iPhone? Reply
  • dsj123 - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    Thanks very much for all the effort to do the iPhone4 review(s); very much appreciated! Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    I'm seriously laughing my ass off just reading the comments for the review. It is clear we have tons of consumers that can and will "live" with just about any crap that they can't find themselves to peel away from. I'm always amazed at this phenomenon. It's got to be the greatest mystery ever.

    And it is astoundingly clear most members have little to absolutely NO CLUE how RF testing is carried out, nor apparently does Anandtech. This is why writing something that is not consistent and bias persuades the masses of readers to believe what they don't even know in the first place. All they know and want to believe is that Anandtech, or in this case, Anand and Brian said it's AT&Ts fault, REGARDLESS that others AT&T phones do not have the issue nor require any special tape/cases.

    Look how many loyal members you have supporting you when they really don't have much experience or expertise in the engineering, including RF, field. As one of the original poster stated, this is so bias it's not even funny. An article detailing how to scotch tape the iphone to normal working conditions while at the same time claiming it's the providers fault? You have got to be kidding me. Unbelievable but not surprising I guess.
  • v12v12 - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    1) I'm lmao bc of all the boasting and bellowing about numbers and credibility of "engineering" regarding this article that YOU, yes YOU haven't even shown you can grasp nor expand our knowledge base on the subject lol.

    2) STFU and prove you know more than what the article's OP(s) have stated, or GTFO?

    3) Again you have ZERO proof of your claim, even when you try and disparage other's; you are the clown here until so forth.

    4) Everything you've stated thus far is 100% conjecture, speculation and BASELESS w/o PROOF.

    5) WAITING FOR PROOF of your claims, kid... Lets SEE just how much you actually know... Or as said—STFU + GTFO.

    So... just WHO really doesn't have an understanding of the RF/Engineering field; apparently you haven't shown any either... laughing my ass off.

  • Janet55 - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    hmm, I read the news "Live from Apple's iPhone 4 press conference".
    Dude. I'm 99% sure there will be no recalls or h/w fixes. Like some dude called it, they'll say
    1) 99% phones are okay
    2) 1% suffer from that issue, which still makes us the best and greatest
    3) we're giving you free/discounted bumpers so worship us forever
    While I love their products, of course I do hope Apple steps up on the iPhone 4 improving as soon.
    The iPhone 4 tempting features, HD Video Recording and lovely pictures you're surprised in iFunia iPhone column
  • tlindaas - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    It seems the iPhone 4 gets better overall reception compared to other phones because of the large, exposed, external antennas, but at the same time this alternative design means is is more sensitive to the disturbances from human hands.

    What I would like to know is this: When holding the iPhone 4 as badly as possible, is it better or worse reception-wise compared to holding a "normal" phone as badly as possible, under poor conditions?

    If a normal phone start to drop calls in the 107-113 dBm range, and the iPhone 4 hold the calls all the way down to -121 dBm, shouldn't this imply that deathgripped iPhone 4s gets roughly the same reception as deathgripped normal phones? Point in case: HTC Nexus One, which drops 10 dBm held naturally, compared to 20 dBm for the iPhone 4:
  • viewfly - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link

    Brian & Anand:

    Great fair review guys. I too can display RSSI in dBm in my iPhone 4: it was passed down from my 3G ->3GS and now IP4 with iTunes. I also examined data speeds with

    My results. Have you seen the same?

    1. I'm right handed and don't normally do a tight grip. I have a bumper, but I can place my fingers anywhere on the metal SS band (except lower left 'sweet' spot) and see no change in data speeds or RSSI.

    2. I can take my thumb and index finger and bridge the gap above and below, with no adverse effects...only when I place my finger directly on the gap is there a problem ( 20+ dB loss). Also, placing a finger directly on the top gap (by earplug) produces no effect. The top gap also separates the two antenna, just like the lower gap. Interesting that it has no effect.

    3. When in a lower RF signal range ( -110 to -95 dBm) I can see data stop and loss of 22 dB when placing my finger directly on the lower fingers elsewhere, or even a few mm's near the gap have no great effect.

    4. When in a hight RF signal range ( -41 to -78 dBM) I see NO data or RSSI dB adverse effect at all. I had expected to see it drop by 22 dB too...but that would be ok...but instead I mostly see no change. Only once out of 10 tries did I see a dB change. I think I understand why some see to antenna issue at all.

    5. I tried kapton tape too. Just over the gap. It helped (data speeds where 850 kbps instead of 2200 kbps) and dB dropped less...but it was not perfect. I'm guessing that a coating would not help either. Only the bumper helped completely. I'm afraid many people will be ripped off buying tape from vendors...

    In general, being right handed and the phone made for right handers ( volume on left side of phone), and the way that I hold the iP4...I have really no problem going without a case. I was surprised how easy it is to avoid. Even in horizontal browsing fingers can touch the metal but avoid the lower gap.

    Maybe Apple should give people the RSSI display would help give good feedback to the user...we humans are easily trained!
  • viewfly - Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - link


    On item 4, I meant to say that i see no effect with my finger even directly on the lower left gap when in a high RF signal area ( -41 to -78 dB). I haven't mapped out carefully the range of -78 to takes time!

    Given that the 1mm gap is only about 0.01% of the total SS metal surface area...I am finding it pretty easy to avoid. So I'm having no problem operating without a case.
  • takkischitt - Thursday, July 22, 2010 - link


    I've been looking everywhere to try and source the correct Kapton tape but I'm struggling.

    Can anyone give me an extact model number and description so I can hopefully find the right one to order on the net?


    Great article btw
  • crashnburn - Saturday, July 24, 2010 - link

    Question is.. Am I better off with getting an iPhone 4 or a 3GS Reply
  • v12v12 - Sunday, July 25, 2010 - link

    Wow this is hilarious... people are using tape and all kinds of MacGyver tricks and tinkering to get it to work "properly" or "better." WHO DOES THIS? Would any of you accept a washing machine that required a rubber stopper from home depot to properly seal in water? Or would you use some aluminum foil to increase your brand new flat screen's picture (hypothetically speaking of course)???

    RETURN the fscking thing, roll the dice and get another one, OR get a Droid or some other phone thats known to work?

    The stupid masses have gotten HAD again... "OMG I've GOT to get the newest, (BETA) latest, greatest phone so I can be cool and waste hours of daily productivity playing around with it like a toy like everyone else..." Baaaaah baaaaaaah, said the sheeple. WAKE UP noobs, YOU DO NOT BUY NEW PHONES, until they've been thoroughly tested and de-bugged. Christ, anyone that knows anything about technology knows TODAYS devices are public-BETAs that the corps use YOU to test, while they profit from your fully-paid dollars up front, which they immediately invest in hedge funds and the stock market to recoop massive short-sell interest from, while YOU all are not only footing the bill for, BUT doing all the leg-work by testing the phones and reporting (complaining) back to them... I digress.

    YOU all are the problem, there's NEVER been a "beta-test" type market like this crap we have today, bc YOU all have ALLOWED this POS beta-warez business model to flourish and take advantage OF US ALL... This is just a waste of txt, since you'll just keep buying and shopping to be "cool," and "hip."

    Thanks a lot sheep... See you at the slaughter house! Please... AFTER YOU... I insist ;-)
  • kalleboo - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - link

    The android bars vary by manufacturer, they're not all exactly the same. My Sony Ericsson X10 shows 3 bars for -85 dBm/14 asu, contrary to this graph Reply
  • bubblesmoney - Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - link

    On GSM or UMTS frequencies (between 870 MHz to 2170MHz around the world) used the noise signal floor is between -111 to -114dbm. The signal noise floor is that strength at which the signal cannot be distinguished from background radiation.

    The signal noise floor depends on the frequency of broadcast and not the device as far as i am aware. So the iphone cannot have a different noise floor compared to other mobile phones, unless Jobs got the governments all over the world to beam a special signal on a different frequency purely for the iphones!!!!

    Anandtech has made a basic error in this analysis i think and consequently this whole article is wrong and meant to favour the iphone either inadvertantly or deliberately.

    see post number 57 on the thread in this link for my explanation why this anandtech article is wrong

    please note that -113dbm (some resources say -111 instead of -113) is the noise floor where signal is indistinguishible from background radiation. look it up in science webpages if you doubt what i say. so if the iphone shows signal to be -120dbm then that is an error. just because it shows a number does not mean that the -113 noise floor value does not exist in physics for gsm broadcast frequencies.

    see gsm freq bands for the world here the freq bands (GSM AND UMTS) used in uk are between 870 to 2170MHz and for that the noise floor is between -111dbm and -113dbm and for the noise floor to be 120dbm the freq would have to be in 180kilohertz which is !!!! and bull as the freq bands used are in MHz so the anandtech numbers dont add up in the 120dbm small print, as there is no 180kilohtz band for gsm in usa or uk as far as i can tell!!!! and 180khz is the freq used for AM band radio and looks like the iphone4 is getting interference from 180khz AM band radio signals too as far i can tell from what anandtech says about 120dbm etc !!! yikes!

    I would be happy to be proved wrong and to learn, but from what i have shown i am right! Noise floor depends on the frequency band of transmission rather than circuitry. In the UK Cellular mobile services operate within the frequency ranges 872-960 MHz, 1710-1875 MHz and 1920 - 2170 MHz so the noise floor would be between -114 to -111dbm.
    It would be similar in the USA too.

    see the rest of my detailed response elsewhere on other forums (post 57 of the thread on the link)

    I hope there is a response to this comment of mine, from this articles writers or some other RF engineers, as due to the reasons quoted in my ananlysis i think this article by anandtech is grossly wrong. I would be happy to stand corrected if my analysis is wrong.

    yes the signals can be sensed at -120dbm but that wouldnt be signals from commercial GSM or UMTS signals, it would be some other signals sensed by the iphone4 sensors and giving a wrong reading of the signal strength. As i said earlier the signal noise floor depends on the broadcast frequency and not the handset, so this article is wrong and grossly so as it is making assumptions of the iphone4 being able to sense GSM / UMTS signals of the order of 120dbm which isnt possible for the frequencies broadcast as per the physics involved. that or Jobs and anandtech found some way to defy physics!
  • Rizi - Friday, July 13, 2012 - link

    When Apple announced the new Siri software for the <a href=" 4s</a> it was easy to just dismiss it as another company trying to get on board with the voice recognition gimmick we've seen companies trying to make work for years. But there are a couple of things to remember here: firstly, this is Apple, a brand that will always make something seem cool and work pretty well. And secondly, it's not a technology that it's had to develop fully in house, with the company buying voice recognition development app-maker Siri. We've played with some pretty advanced voice recognition software on the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S2, so we've also taken a look to see how the same command is registered on both phones. Long pressing the home button will result in the Siri voic icon popping up - or alternatively, you can set the iPhone 4S to activate the service when you hold the phone up to your ear in standby mode, so you don't look as ridiculous when talking to your handset. From there, you've got quite a range of things you can achieve with speech alone, be it sending a message, playing a song (or even a playlist), setting the alarm, creating a reminder... we were very impressed with the range of options on offer. And the system is quick too - where with many other phones you have to open up the voice recognition function (often in a long winded way) and then wait for the beep to speak, Siri opens up in around a couple of seconds from anywhere in the phone. The voice recognition is pretty darn good too - we were straight away impressed with how many phrases it managed to get right on the first go, including some pretty obscure bits and pieces of speech. You do have to pronounce your words a little more clinically than you might do normally, but even garbled speech comes through pretty well. To put a number on it: we went through the list of functions Siri offers, and found that around one in three or four attempts went awry, which is miles better than the one in two we encounter on most other phones. However, before we get into the comparison, we should say this about Siri in the UK - the full range of services aren't available, and that's a real shame. This means you can't ask where the nearest McDonald's or petrol station is, a feature that's been talked up in the US. We do have high hopes that the same features will eventually be enabled in the UK, as it's just a matter of licensing the information and incorporating it into the system, but it will be annoying for a number of users to see that Siri comes back with 'I cannot do that' time and time again for cool functionality. But what it does do well is work out the context of what you're saying, something that most other voice recognition software fails to do. So if you say 'Tell Andy his hair looks amazing today' it will work out that you'll want to tell him by message, rather than asking what method you'd prefer to speak to him. Messaging isn't as straightforward as we'd like though, as using the 'Send message' command to a person in your address book will result in you being asked whether you'd like to do it using the phone number or email address - and there's no way to set a personalized choice. Reply
  • Rizi - Friday, July 13, 2012 - link

    The two cores that are in the A5 chip is an indication that it has two times the power and the graphics are as much as seven times its predecessor. The effects of these upgrades are there for you to see. This <a href=" device</a> is tremendously fast and wonderful to operate in view of the fact that it assists in web browsing, quickly launching apps and just about everything else. In addition, the A5 chip is incredibly power-efficient and thus the phone has a great battery life. The newly created optics makes the iPhone 4S the only camera which you need rather than carrying around a point and shoot camera. The iPhone 4S has of an unbelievable 8-megapixel resolution as well as an extra custom lens that has a big f/2.4 aperture. In addition, the phone has a illumination sensor on its backside, and amazing face detection and color accuracy. There is a feature that lessens overall motion blurring in spite of how much action and how much light you capture. You can even capture spectacular 1080p HD video given that with the most recent optics, there is vivid color all the time. Additionally, it is simple to directly edit video and share it on any social media platform with not having to wait to go onto the Internet by the use of your computer. iCloud is ideal for the management of your contacts, photos, mail messages and apps, among other things. You will be able to easily transfer your files by way of wireless connectivity. Its retina display is simply outstanding in view of the fact that the highest-resolution is fantastic to say the very least. Furthermore, human eyes are incapable of distinguishing any quantity of individual pixels. Its well crafted images and graphic detailing is the best feature of the iPhone. The apps that are pre-loaded into the iPhone are lacking in several features; however, you can simply search the App Store for a number of other utilities or comparable ones for a less expensive price. The Apple app store is similar to a treasure trove and every authorized personnel is provided with access to the app store. It also has an easy to use interface. Reply
  • amariofrmdamoon - Sunday, November 04, 2012 - link

    I've never seen kapton tape used that way, but a good source for it seems to be There are some other insulating tapes at May be worth a try to see if some other cheaper tapes work in a similar manner. Anyone know if it works similarly with the iphone 5. Thanks! Reply

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