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Verizon iPhone 4 antenna problems persist (video)

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011
News Categories: iPhone

In the course of conducting our standard suite of iPhone 4 performance tests, iLounge has discovered that the Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 suffers from signal attenuation problems similar to ones discovered in the original GSM version of the iPhone 4. As seen in this Verizon iPhone 4 antenna attenuation video, the CDMA iPhone 4 can still lose substantial cellular signal strength when held in the prior “death grip” position, as well as Wi-Fi signal when held in a different position, in each case noticeably slowing or completely stalling the reception of data.

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The problem with Wi-Fi reception appears when the device is held snugly in landscape orientation with two hands, a position common when playing games or using the widescreen keyboard. Prior to the Verizon iPhone 4’s launch, sources told iLounge to be on the lookout for the issue, which was being referred to as the “death hug.” It should be noted that although early Apple-sanctioned reviews of the Verizon iPhone 4 claimed that the antenna problems had been fixed in the CDMA model, the same reviewers failed to notice the antenna problems in their original coverage of the GSM model. iLounge’s testing so far has found that the Verizon iPhone 4’s issues appear in the same geographic location as the AT&T iPhone 4’s, indoors with an average of three bars of signal strength. Once again, use of a protective case appears to fix the antenna issue, and antenuation may not be noticeable in areas with stronger signal strength.

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Updated: We’ve added pictures above showing how a normal grip on the bare phone can reduce Verizon’s four-bar signal down to one bar, along with the Speedtest results—a 1.1Mbps download speed gets cut down to 0.1Mbps, and uploads are cut from 0.5Mbps down to 0, or no uploading capability.

Read our detailed review of the new Verizon iPhone 4.

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Comments

1

How would people feel about stories like this one if they showed someone wrapping their hands around something that clearly looks like an antenna (i.e. something protruding out of the top of the phone)?

We’d think it was a non-issue and the person writing the article is silly. How surprising that an antenna doesn’t work if you wrap your hands around it! But because Apple has hidden its “antennaness” with the design, you guys treat it like it’s a separate issue altogether. Although it could be considered poor interaction design to make something not look like what it does, especially if it causes a user to use it in a way that directly affects its use (i.e. covering up something that someone would normally not cover up), so it’s Apple’s fault for not making it look more like an antenna…

Posted by Bart on February 8, 2011 at 3:27 PM (PDT)

2

I’m sorry to see that the “phone” part of the iPhone was, and still is, its weakest function - that “antennagate” is a real phenomenon, even on Verizon. It only strengthens my resolve to replace my iPhone 3GS with an iPad-2 and a Nokia “dumb” phone.

Posted by Farnsworth on February 8, 2011 at 3:47 PM (PDT)

3

#1: I’m guessing that you didn’t bother to watch the video, and that you probably didn’t make it all the way through the two paragraphs above, either. So I’ll make this really short and sweet:

The original iPhone 4’s exposed central metal antenna can lose or entirely drop signal when it makes a certain kind of contact with the user’s hand. There were reports that the Verizon version of the phone didn’t do this any more. Those reports are inaccurate. There’s a video above that shows that the issue persists, and that using a case eliminates the problem for the Verizon phone just as it did for the AT&T version. Period.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 8, 2011 at 3:49 PM (PDT)

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