Users report iPhone 4 reception issues, integrated antenna system may be to blame

Thu, Jun 24, 2010


When Steve Jobs showcased the newly designed iPhone 4, he explained that Apple integrated the antenna system into the steel band which wraps around the entire device. “It’s never been done before,” Jobs stated, “and it’s really cool engineering.”

The take away was that by placing the phone’s antenna’s on the exterior of the device, dropped calls on AT&T would become more of an exception than the rule. Now, early reports from iPhone 4 owners seem to indicate that Apple’s new design may impede call quality and actually increase the frequency of dropped calls.

Check out the video below. When the gentleman has the iPhone 4 laying flat on the ground, his reception is at full strength. The minute he picks up the device, however, the number of bars systematically drop off, one by one.

At this pint, it’s hard to say how prevalent this issue is, but Gizmodo posted a number of user submitted videos which all tell the same story – holding the iPhone lowers signal strength.

So what the hell is going on here?

Danish Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen, a reknowned atenna technology expert, wrote just two weeks ago that the iPhone’s new design may not be the fail-safe against dropped calls that Apple may have had in mind.

The actual circuit board works as a part of the antenna and the metal frame around the coupler signal into it. But it means that the user can not avoid interfering antenna system with its touch.

… the human tissue will in any event, have an inhibitory effect on the antenna. Touch means that a larger portion of the antenna energy turns into heat and lost. This makes the antenna less efficient to send and receive radio signals.

Interestingly, some enterprising Gizmodo readers deduced that signal quality only goes down when touching the left side and the bottom left portion of the phone simultaneously. Seeing as today is launch day, we’ll see if an avalanche of similar complaints come rolling in as the day progresses.


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