How Apple appears to have fixed the “death grip” issue on the Verizon iPhone

Wed, Jan 19, 2011


Apple received a lot of flack for the death grip associated with the iPhone 4. Now with Apple’s iconic device poised to hit Verizon in February, it appears that Apple has made some slight changes to account for the reception and signal attenuation issues that caused such a firestorm earlier this Summer.

Speaking to Network World, Antenna expert Spencer Web explains that early photographs of the Verizon iPhone suggest that Apple made some adjustments to the smartphone’s design to eliminate the peformance issues that resulted upon bridging the separate antennas on the first iteration of the iPhone 4.

Based on the number of slots and their symmetrical position, Webb speculated that the Verizon iPhone has two identical cellular antennas. Covering a slot on one side of the new iPhone may hamper reception, but the phone should still be able to receive and transmit properly as long as the other isn’t similarly bridged by a finger or palm.

“That looks like it’s a possibility,” said Webb, who like everyone prior to Feb. 10 when Verizon’s iPhone goes public , was taking an educated guess. “Apple might have done something clever here by scrambling to come up with a better solution, two cellular antennas.”

But where is the second/dual antenna?

Well, the top part of the AT&T iPhone 4 was split into two segments, one being the cellular antenna and the other comprising the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS antenna. But because the CDMA iPhone on Verizon doesn’t come with a SIM, that frees up a lot of space for Apple to work with.

“That frees up a bunch of real estate on the PC Board,” Webb recently explained in a blog post. “Did Apple move the WiFi antenna (and probably also the GPS antenna) to the PC Board, under the rear glass?  I think so.”

“In their FCC filing, Webb continues, “Apple describes the WiFi antenna as a “PIFA”.  This stands for Planar Inverted-F Antenna.  I would never describe the “frame” antenna using those terms.  So, this seems to support the theory.  Further, the photos of the new Verizon iPhone show elimination of the frame gap on top (which was the WiFi and GPS antenna) and creation of new gaps on the sides.”

In the simplest of terms, it appears that Apple remedied the death grip by using two antennas and having the system dynamically switch back and forth between them depending on how a user happens to be holding the device and how it affects signal reception.

Of course, we’ll have to wait until the Verizon iPhone actually lands in customer hands before making any definitive statements, but Apple has never been known to sit lazily upon a problem.



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