Apple says any mobile phone has reception issues when held wrong

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Responding to growing concerns that holding the iPhone 4 in the left hand results in poorer signal performance for some, Apple has said that all cell phones experience a similar issue.



Apple released an official comment on the issue this week, suggesting that users either adjust their hand position on the phone, or buy a case (such as Apple's $29 bumpers) that prevents one's hand from touching the exterior of the device.



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



Some users have said they can recreate the issue by holding the iPhone 4 in their left hand, making their palm cover the seam that separates the device's two perimeter radio antennas. The metal band around the outside of Apple's new handset has breaks in it that allow the antennas inside the device, including cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, to establish connections.



For some, covering -- or even just touching -- the point where the two antennas meet can result in signal degradation, or cause a dropped call. It is believed that a person's skin can act as a conductive agent, bridging the gap between the two separate antennas.



The issue can be avoided when using Apple's official "bumper protective case, which covers the metal band around the outside of the device.



Supporting Apple's claims that the positioning of one's hand plays a part in cell phone reception, Engadget also posted a video from 2008 in which a user demonstrated loss of signal when adjusting an iPhone 3G.



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Comments

  • successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    I have issues too because I was held wrong.
  • msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    I can't get mine to do it.



    I must be retarded.



    When I stand on my head and balance the phone on the bottom of my feet, it will do it though!
  • nceencee Posts: 834member
    If it ain't broke, then don't fix it, BUT if it is broke, then please do fix it, and stop coming up with excuses!



    Apple … you aren't perfect, that's ok, but be big enough to admit it when you have made a mistake, and fix it.



    Skip



    PS. Oh yeah, any chance you'll be announcing any new COMPUTERS soon?
  • magarimagari Posts: 1member
    The point is that this is a issue with all phones and not only with the iphone. Just cuzz the iphone is selling like hot cakes ppl are making a huge deal out of it.



    Especially in Europe where the 3.5 coverage is great this is indeed an absolute non-issue.
  • rbonnerrbonner Posts: 632member
    I disagree. Most phones have the antenna encased in plastic,
  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon Posts: 483member
    Apple should just start giving away those ugly bumper covers as a workaround for this problem. $29 is way, way too expensive. They can't cost them more than a buck or two in make. Of course, they do ruin the look of the phone.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by msantti View Post


    I can't get mine to do it.

    I must be retarded.

    When I stand on my head and balance the phone on the bottom of my feet, it will do it though!



    It wont do it if the signal strengh is strong. Need a weak/moderate signal AND bad hand position.



    Correction : it looks like you can loose all the signal if you bridge the 2 antennas with your hand. imo this is definitly a design flaw and a pretty bad one. But it can be solved by putting a protection, which also helps held the phone with a better grip and in case the phone falls. China sites will sell you those for 2.99 a piece. Silicone based covers are better than hard case ones in case the phone falls.
  • sippincidersippincider Posts: 398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas,"



    Nobody considered that people might want to hold a cell phone while using it?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The issue can be avoided when using Apple's official "bumper protective case, which covers the metal band around the outside of the device.



    Then bundle the case with the iPhone.



    Nothing says snake oil like "Your new product doesn't work right? Here, we also sell something to correct that..."
  • nicv_84nicv_84 Posts: 5member
    I'd rather encased that with Gmask Skin than the rubber...
  • nceencee Posts: 834member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post


    Apple should just start giving away those ugly bumper covers as a workaround for this problem. $29 is way, way too expensive. They can't cost them more than a buck or two in make. Of course, they do ruin the look of the phone.



    And a hell of a lot cheaper then bad press or worst yet, a recall!



    Skip
  • aedwardsaedwards Posts: 15member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post


    Apple should just start giving away those ugly bumper covers as a workaround for this problem. $29 is way, way too expensive. They can't cost them more than a buck or two in make. Of course, they do ruin the look of the phone.



    If all you need to do is stop conductive contact between the two antenna sections, a small strip of the invisible Scotch tape over the join should do the trick.



    Alan.
  • jrandersoniiijrandersoniii Posts: 36member
    Defective by design. Imagine that idea that someone might actually want to normally hold a phone to place a call! How absurd of that person.



    So, if you can't use the device as your normally would to enjoy its functionality - it is defective by design. Apple should either change hardware design, or include the bumpers. Apple itself is now saying that you need the Apple Bumpers to make the best phone calls.
  • boogabooga Posts: 1,070member
    Apples explanation is wrong. My iPhone 4 (on which I'm typing this) will rapidly go from 5 bars to zero (10-15 seconds) as soon as your hand bridges the gap in the lower left-hand corner. The bars will rapidly reappear when you shift your hand. My house has it's own MicroCell 5 feet away from me so we're not talking about marginal signal strength. It appears to be a hardware flaw to me, althoughwho knows if it's a design or manufacturing problem.
  • wingswings Posts: 261member
    Notice that when the 3G was held in the low-signal condition, it was rotated relative to the high-signal condition. The polarization of an RF signal can have significant effects on reception so this test is very incomplete. The test needs to be redone so that the phone is not moved or rotated when held in different ways. Otherwise the test says nothing about the way it is held.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magari View Post


    The point is that this is a issue with all phones and not only with the iphone. Just cuzz the iphone is selling like hot cakes ppl are making a huge deal out of it.



    Especially in Europe where the 3.5 coverage is great this is indeed an absolute non-issue.



    ISTM that there are two separate issues here.



    1. Apple is correct that all phones have issues with how they're held. I've seen variations in signal intensity on my 3G and there are lots of reports with the same problem on other phones from all vendors. If you hold the phone in your hand, there will be some attenuation of signal intensity. Apple can't change the laws of physics.



    2. However, there seems to be a specific problem related to the iPhone 4's antenna configuration. If you touch the black line where the two antennae almost touch, it can reduce signal intensity under some conditions. That this is specific to this antenna configuration and not simply absorption of radio waves by your hand is demonstrated by the fact that when I put a piece of electrical tape over that line, the problem is significantly improved. There is still SOME drop in signal intensity when I cup it in my hand, but no where near as bad. This part of the problem will be addressed by use of a case, but the part mentioned in (1) won't.



    I found a Belkin case at Best Buy that I think I'll like better than the bumpers. The bumpers are just a bit gaudy for my taste. I'm optimistic that it will make a big improvement, but I won't know until I receive it.



    Given that at least some of the problem is due to the specific antenna configuration and the ability to short the two antennas, I think it would be appropriate for Apple to find a solution and repair phones that are already in service. If that's not possible, they should offer the choice of a credit to cover the cost of a case or a full refund.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rbonner View Post


    I disagree. Most phones have the antenna encased in plastic,



    Even phones with the antenna encased in plastic can have the problem-at some level.
  • boogabooga Posts: 1,070member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post


    It wont do it if the signal strengh is strong. Need a weak/moderate signal AND bad hand position.



    Not really. Signal strength doesn't affect it. And to tell right-handed people not to hold a touch-only phone in their left hand is absurd.
  • curmudgeoncurmudgeon Posts: 483member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aedwards View Post


    If all you need to do is stop conductive contact between the two antenna sections, a small strip of the invisible Scotch tape over the join should do the trick.



    Alan.



    That just crossed my mind. Well, actually I was thinking electrical tape.
  • plagenplagen Posts: 151member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aedwards View Post


    If all you need to do is stop conductive contact between the two antenna sections, a small strip of the invisible Scotch tape over the join should do the trick.



    Alan.



    The conductivity of you hand does not matter.



    One can put a thin scotch tape over the bridge and effect will be the same. Obviously, it's a capacitive coupling. The bumper (or a case) just physically separates your hand from the antenna, thus decreasing the coupling. During the design process the presence and interference with the human body is accounted for. It's one of the major ingredients in the antenna design process.



    Besides, anybody with a handheld multimeter can measure the resistance between the parts of the antenna. Guess what! It's less than 0.5 Ohm! Apparently it's already shorted through the electronics inside. Your hand, with its several kOhms of resistance, is not going to do anything. Also you can physically short it from the outside with any metal object. A screwdriver would do it! No changes in the behavior at all.



    I could drop the bars from 5 to 3 by holding the phone for 3 min. However, the SpeedTest data does not get worse, in several instances it even increases. It's about 2Mb for downploading and 1Mb uploading. Not bad for 3G.
  • rindrind Posts: 66member
    At this point I am extremely happy I havent ordered the new iPhone.



    I used a 2G until I moved to an area that had very poor Edge coverage, now I use a 3G with a large case made of some type of Rubber. (Oakley)

    Where is the antenna on the 3G?

    I rarely have a droped call but Im wondering now if Im causing them.



    Out of all the phones I have used i have never been told I am holding it wrong.

    I would expect more from Apple , but it appears they just wanted to get the phone to market. It's a good looking phone, but I guess I will wait till they fix this issue.

    If not then Its back to Blackberry.
  • maestro64maestro64 Posts: 3,157member
    Yeap a fundamental problem when cell phone went away form your tradition antenna. This has been a problem some the very first cell phone which uses a resident cavity as the antenna, ie, the case itself. Depend on the phone which has not formal antenna covering parts of section of the phone will cause the reception to drop.



    The issue people uncovered with the iphone 4 is the fact the device the antenna in two one for cell and one for local network and putting it in your left hand cause you to couple the two antennas together and really messing with the signal. I guess Apple forgot to hire lefthanded engineers and testers.
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