Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Jul 2010 19:04 UTC
Apple So, the iPhone 4 has been out for a while, and is getting mostly pretty good reviews - there's one major sore spot, though. Apple made this hoopla about their fancy antenna thingie, but as it turns out, this thingie is kind of a design flaw, causing signal loss (and dropped calls) for some people. Despite downplaying by Steve Jobs himself, AnandTech has done a thorough investigation, and they've found out that the problem - which affects every mobile phone - is a whole lot worse on the iPhone 4 due to the new antenna. At the same time, however, the iPhone has much better reception in low signal situations. What?
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To paraphrase....
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 1st Jul 2010 19:19 UTC
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

It was the best of reception, it was the worst of reception!

Sent from an iPhone 4 which can sometimes reproduce the issue...

Reply Score: 5

Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Thu 1st Jul 2010 19:26 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

Apple—unwilling to compromise on quality, except for style.

I had the strangest / geekiest dream yesterday. I dreamt Apple had hired me as a designer and there was a round table discussion with me, Ive, Jobs and other engineers talking about this new prototype iPad on the table that included a camera this time (like it was supposed to :|). We were discussing the choice of materials and nobody seemed to be getting to a point, so I held my cup of coffee over the device and ceremoniously poured cold dregs on to the iPad. Everybody freaked out. I interjected and said "This iPad has a design flaw. Every time I pour coffee on it, everybody freaks out. Please make it so when I pour coffee on it, people don’t freak out." ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Kroc
by dylansmrjones on Thu 1st Jul 2010 19:59 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

No more anchovies on your late night pizza ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Kroc
by mtzmtulivu on Thu 1st Jul 2010 20:47 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14

I fail to get the joke, if the intent was to make people not freak out when coffee is poured on the device and the current design was specially crafted to make people not freak out when coffee is poured on the device, then the design if flawed if people freak out when they see coffee on the device.

Going on stage when announcing the launch of the device and claim people do not freak out when coffee is poured on it then start saying it is a non issue or freaking out customers are mentally unbalanced when customers start reporting freaking out when they see coffee pouring on the device will lead to bad PR and lawsuits

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by Kroc on Thu 1st Jul 2010 21:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

The point is that if it is built so that if someone accidentally spills something on it, the owner doesn’t freak out, then it is built well. The engineering speaks to the human emotion so that the owner knows how to react. That’s a difficult thing to quantify and communicate in product design—“does this product look and feel fragile? Does the user assume that is fragile before they have even picked it up?” Thus my example of cutting through the discussion and demonstrating that the product was fragile because everybody instantly reacted.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by Kroc
by B. Janssen on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 08:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Kroc"
B. Janssen Member since:
2006-10-11

That reminds me of a situation that happened a conference last year: There was this lady with a 17" HP Elitebook (why would someone carry such a monster around?), typing away. Two guys walked down the aisle with coffee and, of course, one slipped and spilled his coffee on the lady's laptop and cloth. The guy apologized profusely but the lady just got up, cleaned her dress, said something and then laughed. After that she tilted her laptop, the coffee poured out and she continued working. No panic, no fuzz.

That's the kind of confidence computers need to instill to be really day-to-day tools and not some overpriced gimmick.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by Kroc - toughbook
by jabbotts on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 20:39 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Kroc"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

That's something I love about the toughbook line. Once you've read your email int he rain, it's hard to go back to a non-rugged machine. Was on the porch checking email, rain started, no reason to stop and rush inside over a few drops on the keyboard.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Kroc
by Elv13 on Thu 1st Jul 2010 23:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
Elv13 Member since:
2006-06-12

If the cofee is made with Java beans, Jobs will still freak out.

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by t3RRa on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 02:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
t3RRa Member since:
2005-11-22

use cocoa instead of coffee to comfort Jobs

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Kroc
by tbutler on Thu 1st Jul 2010 23:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
tbutler Member since:
2005-07-06

Somehow I suspect that's the sort of way Jobs demonstrates to engineers how things need to be redone on devices, if tales that leak out of the company are any indicator.

I like the idea, think you can get them to implement it? ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by Neolander on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 05:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I like the idea, think you can get them to implement it? ;)

He could, but then I think he wouldn't work at Apple.
I suspect that their higher-end products are made to look fragile on purpose, in order to feel more precious and desirable. Just like some sort of jewelery. Because if you consider the weight and the materials being used, the iPod Shuffle and some older releases of the Nano are maybe the sole products from Apple which *do* look and feel rock-solid.

Edited 2010-07-02 05:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Kroc
by deathshadow on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 19:53 UTC in reply to "Comment by Kroc"
deathshadow Member since:
2005-07-12

In other words you want a phone designed by Kalashnikov at the peak of the Cold War?

Toss it in the deep end of a swamp for two weeks, dig it out, put it in the sand and drive over it five or six times with a half-track, pick it up, smack it on the side twice to loosen things up, piss down the barrel to wash out any funk, rack the bolt and start firing?

Of course, I'm loving a design flaw that can be fixed with a piece of electrical tape.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Kroc
by Neolander on Sat 3rd Jul 2010 07:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Kroc"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

In other words you want a phone designed by Kalashnikov at the peak of the Cold War?

Toss it in the deep end of a swamp for two weeks, dig it out, put it in the sand and drive over it five or six times with a half-track, pick it up, smack it on the side twice to loosen things up, piss down the barrel to wash out any funk, rack the bolt and start firing?

Add up 1 month battery life and I'm sold ^^

Of course, I'm loving a design flaw that can be fixed with a piece of electrical tape.

It remains a design flaw :
1/Why is it the users, and not the designers from Apple, who have to put that piece of electrical tape in place ?
2/If you put something as ugly as electrical tape in contact with the iPhone 4, it will immediately stop being Premium Apple Hardware and became a normal touchscreen smartphone from 2010, a device trying to be both a phone and a computer and being shitty at both. Who would want that to happen ?

Reply Score: 2

Comment by mtzmtulivu
by mtzmtulivu on Thu 1st Jul 2010 20:35 UTC
mtzmtulivu
Member since:
2006-11-14

it looks like a few people arent happy with the antenna issue and are taking the matter to court.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/07/01/apple_sued_over_iphon...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by mtzmtulivu
by vivainio on Thu 1st Jul 2010 21:01 UTC in reply to "Comment by mtzmtulivu"
vivainio Member since:
2008-12-26

Luckily, in addition to these whiners that are not happy with the phone they bought (what can you expect? can't wait for reviews and some real world mileage before buying?), there are more interesting legal actions agains Apple brewing:

http://apple.slashdot.org/story/10/07/01/160239/EU-Plans-To-Make-Ap...

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by mtzmtulivu
by JAlexoid on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 00:00 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mtzmtulivu"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Sorry. But calling people, that expected a very improved device(concerning the antenna and reception), whiners is just incorrect.
These people got on the hook and got burnt like the techie early adopters are every time. Apple charges some restocking fee for the refund, so legal proceedings are quite reasonable. And in US going to court is considered normal. In EU Apple can't charge you for a refund, especially if the device is defective.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by mtzmtulivu
by tbutler on Thu 1st Jul 2010 23:49 UTC in reply to "Comment by mtzmtulivu"
tbutler Member since:
2005-07-06

I wonder how far suing over a product flaw that has been clearly revealed during the return period will go. I fear it will go too far.

Reply Score: 2

Great article!
by Governa on Thu 1st Jul 2010 21:42 UTC
Governa
Member since:
2006-04-09

I just want to say... excellent article! No bullsh*t, no FUD... spot on! Very professional ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Great article!
by Finchwizard on Thu 1st Jul 2010 22:35 UTC in reply to "Great article!"
Finchwizard Member since:
2006-02-01

I'm sitting in my seat in pure shock.

What have you done with the real Thom? The Apple Hater we've all come to know & lets face it, make us want to slam our heads into the desk.

That's exactly what Articles should be like, clear, concise, professional.

I'm still waiting for the "But...." to come.

Must say I'm pleasantly surprised.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Great article!
by kristoph on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 06:07 UTC in reply to "Great article!"
kristoph Member since:
2006-01-01

I second that, great article!

Reply Score: 1

A Week Later
by REM2000 on Thu 1st Jul 2010 22:08 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

I got the iPhone 4 on launch day last week, i have been using intensely to really stress test it and being completely honest i haven't had a problem with phone calls on the phone. I haven't held the device in any particular funny way, ive held it normally, i.e. how i hold all phones including the 3G.

I don't know if it's the network o2 (UK), however i will say that phone calls are a lot cleaner and sharper from noise, it's like the person on the other end is sitting in the same room, which i think is due to the extra mic.

I have been in traveling around the following areas in the uk, suffolk, essex, cambridge, london and north norfolk and never had a dropped call.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by xmv_
by xmv_ on Thu 1st Jul 2010 22:27 UTC
xmv_
Member since:
2006-06-09

Please posters read the anandtech article. it explains why some "don't" get the problem.
Actually everyone has the problem, but due to the way the iphone handles it, if you have good signal it will show 4-5 bars even when your signal gets pretty low when you cover it

if you don't have perfect signal, the covering however make you lose enough signal that the connection will cut, all the bars fall down as well

A friend of mine got the phone yesterday so we could test and had the same result. nearby phone carrier antenna, cover iphone 4 (well contact the 2 antenna with your hand), 5 bars

walk 5min, repeat, 0 bars. we have a good coverage here in europe, but in most places, putting your hand at the wrong place cut the signal. it's a little annoying because you do happen to "hold it that way" from time to time, so he's getting a bumper.

Reply Score: 2

Hmmm
by mmesantos1 on Thu 1st Jul 2010 23:21 UTC
mmesantos1
Member since:
2009-02-03

Some food for thought, when it comes down too it how many people buy a cell phone and then at the same time buy a protective case of some sort for the phone. Most people do, I see it all the time. So buy the bumper case and enjoy the new phone. :-)

Reply Score: 0

RE: Hmmm
by shashank_hi on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 04:25 UTC in reply to "Hmmm"
shashank_hi Member since:
2009-08-27

I disagree. I've been strongly considering getting an iPhone (4) without a bumper. It's still under consideration as I'm hoping that a firmware upgrade is coming soon.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Hmmm
by Neolander on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 05:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmmm"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I disagree. I've been strongly considering getting an iPhone (4) without a bumper. It's still under consideration as I'm hoping that a firmware upgrade is coming soon.

How could a firmware upgrade fix poor antenna design ?

Reply Score: 3

...which affects every mobile phone...
by mrhasbean on Thu 1st Jul 2010 23:28 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

This is really the most relevant thing in this whole storm in a teacup. If they'd done the on-screen meter differently I dare say nothing would ever have come of this - users would have just put it down to the same issues they have with every other phone, you know the one, move 5cm to the right of where you're standing and signal strength goes from 5 bars to 1. Similar enough in the eyes of users to be lumped into the same basket.

There is an issue with the design, and yes it is a double-edge sword, because the same design flaw also improves reception. For most users however it will have little if any impact because the majority of users put their iPhones into some form of case.

Reply Score: 2

Karitku Member since:
2006-01-12

Doesn't that mean iPhone is so shitty hold in hand it needs extra casing, shouldn't it come as standard then? This question pops my mind as someone who has had 20 cellphones without any having external case or signal issues.

Reply Score: 3

kvarbanov Member since:
2008-06-16

+1. Personally I got tired of reading about Apple products' issues over here and there - their news seem to be flooding all of my favorite sites, it's getting boring. Is there a problem with the phone - yes. Not much more to say except for : fix it - your customers were expecting improved device (or at least they say that). As an owner of Nokia, Motorola, HTC and Sony Ericsson I've never had such drama. I guess I'll have to create some sort of filter for Apple or not read them at all ...

Reply Score: 2

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

Doesn't that mean iPhone is so shitty hold in hand it needs extra casing, shouldn't it come as standard then? This question pops my mind as someone who has had 20 cellphones without any having external case or signal issues.


You probably never noticed any signal problems because you were in the store buying a new phone. ;-)

My latest phone seems to get better reception when I pick it up. Who knows why any of them have problems?

All I can see is that they didn't test until the last minute and thought that the plastic bands would be okay, like the iPod socks, and would just cover up the problem. Apple really don't know how to estimate well. I don't recall how many battery life updates there were when my PowerBook was new in 2005 but there were a few.

They really need to change their testing procedures. It's not like they're some tiny company who can't afford to hire people to do the job correctly.

Reply Score: 2

I get the feeling this is Jobs' fault
by coreyography on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 01:00 UTC
coreyography
Member since:
2009-03-06

OK...how many times has anyone seen antennas _intended_ to be used while touching the body (i.e., DC-coupled to it)?

I can't think of any. There's a reason for that.

I suspect his RF engineer told him that these external metal antennas, placed right where people would be holding the phone, would be a bad idea.

And I suspect that Jobs replied, do it anyway, it looks cool, or something to that effect.

His contradictory emails appear to be just denial that he was wr---wrrr----wrr----rrrr....

Reply Score: 1

Guys, you've got it all wrong ...
by WorknMan on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 01:14 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

THIS is how you're supposed to hold the new iPhone:

http://img716.imageshack.us/img716/4597/iphone4face01.jpg

Reply Score: 2

iPhone cases
by asupcb on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 02:35 UTC
asupcb
Member since:
2005-11-10

Most people I know will be buying an Otterbox, or some other case, for the iPhone 4 as soon as the new cases are released and that will eliminate the problem. I will probably be buying an iPhone 4 at some point. I use AT&T but I live in the Southern United States (Little Rock, Arkansas to be exact) and AT&T coverage is actually pretty good here and due to lower population density we don't have the signal overcrowding issues that larger denser cities have.

Reply Score: 2

tyrione
Member since:
2005-11-21

There is much to learn about Field Theory and signal to noise attenuation.

Reply Score: 2

Is it still AT&T
by dindin on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 03:53 UTC
dindin
Member since:
2006-03-29

I have known for a while now that many of the dropped calls issue is more of an Apple issue that with the network. We have 3 phones in our family - motorola razor, nokia n71, and an iPhone 3GS - all on AT&T. Ever since we got the iPhone and we detect signal problems on it, we check the Moto and nokia- never had issues with them.

This article simply reenforces some of my experience. Many of the iPhone issues are to do with the antenna design and software.

Reply Score: 3

Maybe there is some engineering issue...
by bitwelder on Fri 2nd Jul 2010 06:41 UTC
bitwelder
Member since:
2010-04-27

... after all, as Apple opened some position for antenna specialist engineers.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/30/apple_hiring_engineers/

The article doesn't report it, but perhaps there must be some vacancy also in QA department.

Reply Score: 1

More Testing From Consumer Reports
by macUser on Sat 3rd Jul 2010 01:41 UTC
macUser
Member since:
2006-12-15

http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/07/apple-iphone-4...

Most of the Web sites reporting dropped signals and even dropped calls have demonstrated several techniques, or "death grips" for recreating the problem (which we've yet been able to reproduce in a meaningful way). But those almost always require squeezing the phone hard, in an unnatural way. Those grips may also produce sweaty palms from exertion, with the sweat increasing conductivity—and possibly the degree of signal loss.


Apple must have paid off Consumer Reports!

Edited 2010-07-03 01:42 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Poor and potentially dangerous design
by ndrw on Sun 4th Jul 2010 03:49 UTC
ndrw
Member since:
2009-06-30

The article in Anandtech says it all.

The antennas are laid out along the rim of the device in such a way that they are NOT insulated. If the antenna is touches another conductor (like user's body, a key in a bag) it detunes from its center frequency, causing a major drop in received signal power.

This is particularly visible when two of antennas (GSM and WiFi) are shorted together by placing a finger atop a slit between them (and if you're a left-handed person you'll be doing this all the time). The resulting signal loss in this scenario is quite dramatic - quoted 20dB of signal loss is 100x less of received signal power or 10x larger distance.

What is more worrying is what happens with all the transmitted RF power (2W in case of GSM). Likely a substantial part of it is going to end up being conducted into the user's body. So, if you're the Iphone4 user don't wait for Apple and buy the damn holster now.

Reply Score: 1

hard to believe
by lilyyoyo on Mon 5th Jul 2010 06:40 UTC
lilyyoyo
Member since:
2010-07-05

life is colorful. please enjoy ur life. today i suggest you a website to make friends with rich and successful men .Have fun, my friends.

Reply Score: 1