Michael Olivero
The official blog of Michael Olivero, Software Architect & Humble Entrepreneur

iPhone 4 antenna glitch real or not?

Thursday, 15 July 2010 01:41 by Michael Olivero

Much uproar has occurred with the latest iPhone and possible antenna glitch since it's release on June 24th. I personally haven't experienced any issues as I bought the Apple case which conveniently shields the iPhone from any human interference with it's exposed metallic antenna. However, in lieu of various blogs and spurious examples of how the antenna fails to function properly when touched in the special "death grip" area, I decided to conduct my own set of tests and reach my own set of conclusions. This is the area in question among all the news media.

First, the antenna system is the casing of the iPhone. As Jobs mentioned in his presentation, the core frame structure is the metallic antenna frame. So there are two pieces of metal separated in two areas. One of the areas is the lower left side with the phone facing forward, and the other is the the slit on top near the microphone jack. When I performed my own test, I was able to lose a few bars of signal repeatedly. I didn't drop a call or lose call quality, but the bars did reduce from five to about three. Since the two antennas are separated in two different locations, one must assume the conductivity issue should also have a similar effect if touched on the other slit on top.

When touching the slit on the top however, no effect whatsoever occurs with the signal strength bars. This really spurred my curiosity because I was expecting to have the same results -- at least partially. With my continued intrigue, I decided to perform some speed tests while on 3G as some others have done.

In doing so, since the speed test refreshes continuously, I came across an a definitive conclusion -- 3G data could be affected 100%. As shown in my video test below, I can effectively stop the progress of the test by simply touching the affected area and then allow it to continue by releasing it. Curiously, this effect again doesn't materialize when we touch the top slit which also separates both antennas. So the next step was to switch to Edge network. More surprisingly, when switched to the Edge network, the lower left touch has no effect whatsoever also. I'm not a signal expert, but I would presume the 3G has a more sensitive or higher frequency signal which is more sensitive to the touch over the Edge signal. If this can be automatically tuned when touched vs. not touched via software much like a noise cancellation microphone removes ambient noise in a regular phone call, then we may have a software solution.

Categories:   iPhone / iPad
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