Antenna expert Spencer Webb chimes in on the iPhone 4 saga

Fri, Jun 25, 2010


With all the hoopla and complaints surrounding the highly publicized reception issues on the iPhone 4, some have been asking why Apple bothered to put the antenna on the bottom of the iPhone at all. It’s a valid question, and it turns out, there’s an equally valid explanation. Fancy that.

Spencer Webb explains:

Just about every cell phone in current production has the antenna located at the bottom.  This insures that the radiating portion of the antenna is furthest from the head.  Apple was not the first to locate the antenna on the bottom, and certainly won’t be the last.  The problem is that humans have their hands below their ears, so the most natural position for the hand is covering the antenna.  This can’t be a good design decision, can it?  How can we be stuck with this conundrum?  It’s the FCC’s fault.

You see, when the FCC tests are run, the head is required to be in the vicinity of the phone. But, the hand is not!!  And the FCC’s tests are not the only tests that must be passed by a candidate product.  AT&T has their own requirements for devices put on their network, and antenna efficiency is one of them.  I know because I have designed quad-band GSM antennas for the AT&T network.  The AT&T test similarly does not require the hand to be on the phone.


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