Skip to comments.Antenna Expert: Apple is Right, iPhone 4 Signal Woes Overblown
Posted on 07/03/2010 1:34:14 PM PDT by Swordmaker
Apple on Friday issued a carefully worded statement admitting that, yes, there's something wrong with the iPhone 4; but, no, it's not the alleged problem you've heard about.
While Apple fessed up to using a flawed formula to calculate the number of bars of signal strength displayed on the iPhone, it also defended the iPhone 4's much-maligned antenna design, calling the handset's wireless performance "the best we have ever shipped."
Corporate denial at its worst? Not so, says Spencer Webb, president of AntennaSys, an antenna design, integration, and consulting firm. Webb on Friday ran preliminary tests on the iPhone 4's antenna and reached the same conclusion as Apple: Everything's (mostly) okay.
"My conclusion is that all the hype has been just hype," Webb says. "It's not any more sensitive to hand position that was the first-generation iPhone--and probably many other phones on the market."
Some users report that when they hold the iPhone 4 tightly and cover the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band, signal strength can drop 4 or even 5 bars. That, they claim, is evidence of the phone's flawed antenna design.
Webb and a colleague decided to run their own tests, which he admits were brief and subjective. "This was a non-scientific test, but it was done by two engineers who deal with RF devices for a living," he says.
(Excerpt) Read more at pcworld.com ...
RF is RF. There is little that can be done to improve it.
It is what it is.
The exploitation of natural phenomena is limited.
I assume what they are discussing is a rake receiver with four prongs. What I gleaned from the article is that by squeezing the device you can somehow trip something on the PCB to indicate a smaller signal than is actually present.
It is a real bug, but why would you squeeze a phone while using it?
Just proves that nothing is fool proof.
Because fools are so ingenious.
Not SW but and RF ping
The other is Apple's SW that shows an optimistic signal strength. Apple can fix the SW, but as for the antenna...just don't hold it that way.
My biggest problem with the iPhone 4 is that I can't get any. I have probably 100 customers who want one and I can't get any.
If you want on or off the Mac Ping List, Freepmail me.
I agree, reception in a cell phone is way overrated. Steve “Just don’t hold it in that way” Jobs should just rename the iPhone 4 it to the “Touch 4” and be done with it.
On a side note, I love it when someone with an iPhone 4 is actually able to get reception for a hot minute, calls me, only to accidently hangs up when the proximity sensor fails and their cheek presses against the end-call button.
I wonder how long until a recall?
The South Park cartoon actually did a skit on this where a character opens a theme park and then tells everyone they can't come in. In turn, according to the skit, this generated a public panic to get into the park.
It is reverse logic. But it has been demonstrated that by limiting supply you can (two fold) increase the price and increase the ‘zeal’ to get one.
But for the antenna, there must be a physical reason. There is no way you can ‘block’ reception by putting your hand on an antenna unless there is a grounding issue. But then, more than likely, you would increase reception.
I don't know. But it is definitely a physical problem.
Yes, this issue about the antenna is just a small bump in the road. I don't have an iPhone, but I saw someone using one on a FaceTime video call. It was really amazing. Clear video and voice.
That was Cartman (natch) who, when he inherited a load of money from his grandmother, buys an amusement park so he doesn’t have to wait in line ever again.
Then he has to hire a guard to keep everyone else out, which means he has to let in a few people every day to fund that paycheckan and ao on.
Pretty soon, the park is overrun with people again.
But for the antenna, there must be a physical reason. There is no way you can block reception by putting your hand on an antenna unless there is a grounding issue. But then, more than likely, you would increase reception.
I can only speak from experience, but I know on my old phones with pop up antennas that covering the antenna with my hand dropped signal strength. I experimented with it a few times and signal strength dropped when I covered the antenna and picked back up when I took my hand away.
Did you bother to read the article? The engineers say that Apple is right. It's the problem that is over hyped.
As for your concern for the proximity sensor issue, that affects such a small number of iPhone users that it doesn't rise to the level of a problem. We are talking about what is probably a bad batch of sensors, if that. Percentage wise, it's apparently less than 1/10th of one percent of iPhone 4s sold. Recalls simply are not initiated for percentages that small.
That is odd. With light transmissions I can see it. There is no way Iphone is using analog, with analog maybe. But if you are up on 4 sites? And with a digital transmission? Digital doesn't care what is in the way. It will go through concrete.
Wonder why that would be? You simply cannot block a transmission with your hand unless something is wrong.
I wish the government would give me a million dollars to figure out ‘specifically’ with technical details why this is happening.
Which makes him so mad he sells the park back to the original owner, who is excited now that his park is popular, so he pays him back his million dollars.
And then Cartman loses all his money because the government steps in and collects taxes from his operation.
The new Futurama did a show about the “eyephone”, in which they kept telling customers they were “running out”, and then the customer would come to the counter and say “any left”, and they’d say “there might be one left”, and reach into the back room where there where millions being made and delivered to baskets.
They also mounted the eyephone IN the eye. But it didn’t have reception problems.
You’re right. I heard that if you put it in a hard case, that insulates the antenna and provides a small dielectric gap between your skin and the antenna. Supposedly eliminates the sensitivity to how it is held. And hey, anyone that spends that kind of coin on a phone should protect it with a case.
Having done cave rescue, I'll argue with that. Nothing transmits through rock or earth. That's why antennas are on roofs and satellites bounce signals.
If the government gives you a million, I'll help for half.
Cabbage Patch dolls...
The digital transmissions had a much higher penetration measurement.
If you want to go into a cave? I could fix you up. It would take some work but yes, I could make you transmit from a cave.
What would I need? Well there are two ways. Could rig a series of repeaters to the entrance and then go out. Or I could drill a hole to the top (or close to the top). Like I said I don't know.
Yes, if you go into the bowels of the Earth you might lose coverage. I was speaking about the city. In an office building.
I'm speaking from an end user, not a designer perspective. Yes, I was using caving as the extreme indicator. Office buildings and the average user location have nowhere near the resistance to transmission signals as a cave. In larger buildings, like malls and high rises, blocking and interference with transmission signals is a known issue. On 9/11, one of the reasons so many firefighters were killed was because radio transmissions inside the WTC were not received due to building interference. A mayday was called, but many firefighters did not receive the transmission. Of course, the massive overload in all transmission channels from cell phones, television remote units, fire, ems, police and state and federal agencies also contributed. Most modern fire codes now include provisions requiring buildings exceeding a specific size to install internal building repeaters that mimic the tower repeaters located around the municipality for emergency services.
In cave rescue, transmission issues underground have been known for a long time. I am not aware of any receiving device that will work wirelessly in a cave. The issue starts as soon as you are deep enough in the cave that you lose line of sight with the exterior, although transmission may extend a little deeper in solid rock caves where transmissions will extend a little deeper as transmissions bounce, but are usually not good for more than twenty feet inside a cave. Our solution was to use an old army line wire radio with about a mile of wire and the handsets that would clamp onto the wire at any location to make a connection. The wire was on a spool, and the insulation was self healing so you didn't damage it when you attached the hand set.
If you know of a method of actually transmitting through rock, freep mail me. We can be millionaires.
As to our original discussion, I understand that we're talking about a guppy and a whale when talking about the differences between covering an antenna with your hand and transmitting inside a cave, but your response was extremely interesting, and ran me off on this tangent.
??? Look how finicky digital broadcast TV is. Obstruction -- no signal. Movement -- no signal. Antenna tuned to wrong band -- no signal (actually, inability to lock on or stay locked on in each of those cases). Lots of people who got a passable analog signal in marginal reception areas get no lock on ever with digital.
i need a couple of minutes.
1. In the struggle for battery life, they cut down the phone’s transmitter power by going digital.
2. In the struggle for channel capacity, they went digital.
1. Fadeouts and dropped calls became, if anything, more common.
2. Background noise at the talking end and fadeouts in the channel rendered the received speech unintelligible.
Of course, the marketing departments performed heroic feats in their panegyrics to the “New! Digital!! ModernUpToTheMinuteTechnology!!!” system.
I was worried they’d mess it up, but so far they’ve been as good as the originals.
what you said is indicate of a high’beam pulse.
this is what we call electommagnetici interference
I can say, there is NO WAY I’m returning my iPhone 4! I love it.
My brother is a regional store representative for AT&T and even he was on a waiting list. He got his phone by accident when he visited one of his stores and they just happened to have one in stock.
His first phone call was to me, and I couldn’t hear him talking. I called him back and it worked the second time. =)
By the way Radio Shack..a new iPhone dealer, is offering a 100 to 200 buck trade-in for 3g and 3gs that are in good shape. I'm trading mine in and grandfathering my unlimited data plan (30 bucks a mo) into a new contract for the total of 100 bucks ((16G).
By the way new data contracts are no longer unlimited with big overage charges if you exceed the limit.
I may have failed to make clear that I was referring to the switch from analog to digital, years ago. Nothing specific to an iPhone.
I think I’ll amplify on my previous mini-rant. Before I do, I should reiterate that I’m discussing the transition from analog to digital cellphones that took place beginning almost twenty years ago. Systems have evolved substantially since then, in order to handle the newer digital services to handheld devices like the iPhone; however, the same basic engineering principles continue to apply, although improved design methodologies (and maybe even a dose of humility on the part of system designers!) may have improved things for the customer.
Two decades ago or so, the system engineers preparing to switch the various cellular services from analog to digital had at their disposal all manner of mathematical models and computer simulations of system performance.
These models included extensive simulations of propagation effects, including antenna performance of a nominal handheld phone, and also such issues as multipath, co-channel and adjacent channel interference, and many other factors.
The models had many virtual knobs which the engineers could tweak. A couple of the most important ones were bandwidth/data rate and transmit power (both in the phone and in the cell site).
The evaluations of the performance of the models also had numerous dimensions.
For the future customer, the most important of these were the frequency of dropped calls and the intelligibility of speech as received over the simulated system in a “standard” phone.
[[By the way, the telephone industry has well-defined procedures for the rating of speech intelligibilty using carefully prepared experiments with panels of human listeners. Methods have been in place for generations.]]
For the service provider, the most important criteria were how many simultaneous connections could be supported at a time at a cell site given the FCC assigned channels; how wide an area could a cell site be made to cover (where phone traffic was sparse); and how much standby or talk time could a “standard” phone be expected to achieve.
Managment wanted the engineers to maximize capacity in a given bandwidth to minimize the capital cost of a talk channel at a cell site, and to maximize the site’s potential for expansion of the number of channels. A contradictory desire was to maximize battery life of a typical handheld phone (by minimizing the power of its transmitter). So the engineers set to work studying tradeoffs and running many variations through their models (by twiddling all those chromium knobs in the software). At the same time, they had a minimum standard for the frequency of dropped calls and for acceptable voice quality. To improve either of these meant a tradeoff against the phone’s battery life and the number of calls a cell site could handle.
IMHO, they set the quality standards too low; probably because their models contained optimistic assumptions, but possibly also under pressure from managment to maximize channel capacity.
End of rant.
“Webb and a colleague decided to run their own tests, which he admits were brief and subjective. “This was a non-scientific test, but it was done by two engineers who deal with RF devices for a living,” he says.”
LOL ... A brief, subjective, non-scientific test
Nothing to see here folks, move along
This article has a statement from the same guy calling the iphone antenna design “ that’s one’s of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen,”
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