Originally Posted by mstone
I just got my hands on one a few minutes ago. Girl in the office pre ordered one. I tested the antenna issue and here is my experience.
If I hold it normally with the left palm touching the area of concern it dropped from 5 bars to 4 after about 10-15 seconds. I was holding it gently not pressing hard into my palm. However if I pressed my thumb quite firmly across the seam it would drop the bars down to 2. I found that with normal use where you touch the sensitive location somewhat off and on during a call you should be ok, but if you are applying a lot of pressure as to make full skin contact for a sustained length of time you may affect the reception.
I think this is the important issue. First of all, completely wrapping your hands around the phone in the "death grip" hold, is completely artificial. I suspect any phone would have a problem if you did that with its antenna. What matters is actually how you hold the phone when using it, which obviously can vary with a smartphone, depending on what you are doing. So, a slight drop from a casual "shorting" of the antennae is probably not a big deal. If you have to actually firmly place a finger or thumb across the seam to cause it to drop out completely, again, an artificial situation, that probably isn't a big deal since it's not likely to happen in real world usage. I certainly don't see that happening during a call when you have the phone to your ear. It could be problematic if you are holding it in your hand to work with it, if that can cause enough contact with the base of your thumb to "short" it out.
I'm not an antenna expert by any means, but I'd guess the seam is located where it is because they wanted a certain length and/or shape to the antennae. It does seem to me to be something of a design problem to have the seam exactly where it is, but that may have been dictated by any number of other constraints. How big a problem that is depends on how much it affects real world use, not how it behaves in "death grips" or when deliberately making it happen by "shorting" the antennae across the seam. So, that you can
make it lose signal isn't as important as whether you do
make it lose signal when you are using it, as opposed to trying to make it lose signal.
The, "happens to some phones not others," thing could also just as easily be, "happens to some people not others," or, "happens in some locations and not others." There certainly don't seem to be adequate reports to determine which it is. But, so far, what we seem to have is that it can be made to happen, by some people on some phones at some locations, which is entirely too many variables to know what the exact nature of the problem is.
So, if people are going to post reports that, "it happens with my phone," or, "it doesn't happen with mine," it would be more useful if you describe: under what circumstances (real or artificial), whether you can reproduce it with other phones (iPhone 4 that is, if possible), if you can reproduce it with various other people (I would guess that each body could have a different effect, depending on any number of factors) doing what you did, if you can reproduce it at different locations, and other more exact details.
Right now, while I'm inclined to think there could be a problem, at least with some phones, or for some people, there's just way too much noise and way too little detail to judge how significant the issue is, or if it's significant at all
EDIT: I would also add two other points:
1. I think the response from Apple of, "don't hold it like that," was seriously bad PR.
2. I really think they need to be less passive on this issue, or it's really going to spin completely out of control for them. This isn't like other recent issues where they could just quietly address them on a case by case basis. I understand that companies don't like to make statements about issues like these as they are unfolding, but silence in this case, in their highest profile launch in years, is not going to help them.