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iPhone 4S Seems to Fix 'Death Grip' Antenna Issue

One of the big controversies surrounding the launch of the iPhone 4 was related to its antenna design. Several customers reported issues with significant signal loss when holding their iPhone in a natural way. The complaints grew louder until even Consumer Reports stated that they couldn't recommend the iPhone 4 due to the signal issues. Not all customers saw the problem, as the issue seemed to be related to regional signal strength.

Apple even held a press conference to address the controversy. Apple, however, focused on a related but separate issue during their press conference. They discussed normal signal attenuation while gripping any phone tightly, and rightfully pointed out that all mobile phones exhibit this behavior to some degree. The other iPhone 4 specific issue which wasn't addressed during the press conference was the effect of simply bridging the left lower antenna break also causing problems for some. This video from 2010 best demonstrates the effect.

Early testing and reports from iPhone 4S users seem to show that the signal drop from tightly gripping the iPhone has been diminished or even eliminated. One user tested their iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S from the exact same spot and found no signal drop at all in the iPhone 4S while gripping tightly with their left hand and covering the band.


The above picture tries to demonstrate the reduced effect, but even the iPhone 4 attenuation is rather minimal as compared to the worst case scenarios we've seen.

The iPhone 4S is known to have significant antenna upgrades, allowing it to switch antennas to maximize their signal. iSpazio also posted a video showing little effect from the "death grip" on the 4S, though the video shows the demonstrator holding it in the wrong hand for the demonstration. Typically the effect is most seen when holding the iPhone in your left hand to bridge the lower left antenna gap.

Regardless, this should be good news for anyone interested in an iPhone 4S. We expect to hear more real world experiences as more readers get their iPhone 4Ss activated.

Update: InsanelyGreatMac does a great followup video showing the issue seems definitely improved on the new iPhone 4S.



Top Rated Comments

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63 months ago
I know there are some people who seem to think the antenna issue wasn't real, but I can say from first hand experience it was real. So let's please not get into the debate about whether it was a manufactured controversy or not. :)

There were two separate issues

a) "death grip" - holding tightly
b) just bridging the lower left band

a) is common in all cell phones
b) is iPhone 4 specific

arn
Rating: 26 Votes
63 months ago
The "death grip" issue ain't over until Consumer Reports says it's over! :)
Rating: 9 Votes
63 months ago
Makes me glad I skipped the 4 and waited for the 4S
Rating: 8 Votes
63 months ago

I know there are some people who seem to think the antenna issue wasn't real, but I can say from first hand experience it was real. So let's please not get into the debate about whether it was a manufactured controversy or not. :)

arn


Thank you.

Right handers that had their pinky touch the lower left break saw major db loss. Left handers that had their palm touch the same break had the same issue.

Grip had NOTHING to do with it. NOTHING. Any phone will suffer from the water content in your hand. This was just making light contact to a soft-spot in the antenna design of the iPhone 4. You get an almost inexcusable 10dB loss. In VERY strong signal areas, you would not see bar drops (such as ATT stores), but if you had average signal or worse, you would likely lose the call.

Hopefully what is happening is if you hold a 4S the way you are comfortable in doing so and contact is made on that spot, it just switches to use the top antenna bar.
Rating: 8 Votes
63 months ago
This is the first thing I checked when I got my 4S, and I'm thrilled to say they have finally fixed the problem. For the past 16 months I've had to hold my iPhone 4 very carefully at home (and at certain points on my commute) to avoid losing signal entirely (I'm right handed but I usually hold the phone in my left hand, and I can't stand bumpers/cases) and for the first time since June of last year, I don't have to worry about it anymore. It's GREAT!!!!
Rating: 7 Votes
63 months ago

the problem was real just not a big deal. you had to hold it like you wanted to break the phone, which for a 700 phone people sure tend to treat them like cheap plastic nokia phones you get for free.:roll eyes:


Please reread the article. There were two issues.

- "death grip" - which is like you wanted to break the phone
and
- just bridging that spot.

Watch this video if you are confused.
http://www.macrumors.com/2010/06/24/iphone-4-in-hand-signal-issue-isolated-to-bottom-left-corner/

arn
Rating: 5 Votes
63 months ago

Oh, you mean the problem that was never really a problem anyway? That's some R&D well-spent.

I realize Apple had no choice but to "fix" the problem due to the bad PR, but the fact that they had to in the first place is ridiculous.


Some people just don't get it. The problem was real. It really sucked if you were left-handed and held the phone in a perfectly normal manner and it cut out. It's now been FIXED and yet people like you say how stupid it was of them to fix it. (shakes head) I'm certainly thrilled you aren't in charge, that's for darn sure. :rolleyes:

Kudos to Apple for fixing the issue for everyone else that actually wants a phone free some such misery. ;)
Rating: 5 Votes
63 months ago

4 bars ---> 3 bars

...So much for a 'death' grip.

How about calling it 'common-cold' grip?


he doesn't have to grip it for the iPhone 4. Take it out of its case, lay it on a table, and with your index finger touch the lower left break on the side. Thats it. THere is no grip issue unique to the iPhone (any water bag will block signal). I don't know why RonHC tries to grip it, but he does demonstrate touching that break line, so it looks good
Rating: 5 Votes
63 months ago

the problem was real just not a big deal. you had to hold it like you wanted to break the phone, which for a 700 phone people sure tend to treat them like cheap plastic nokia phones you get for free.:roll eyes:

I have had no case on any of the iPhone and had non of the problems or the amount of glass cracks I see people have. what are these people doing that they can't even take care of a phone in their pocket.

That said I find that walking around with a phone stuck you your ear makes people look like dorks and 80's rejects. people bluetooth is for real use it.


Seems like you're only talking about the grip issue that is common to all phones, but the iP4 also had a death touch which only required a touch in the right spot to bridge two antennas and cause signal drop. And many people touch this spot when holding the phone normally, no "holding it like you want to break it" required.
That was a real issue, lots of people have it and it is a big deal to them, and it should be a big deal for a company that prides themselves at perfection.
Rating: 5 Votes
63 months ago
This is stupid. Bars means nothing.

Bars are a poor representation of anything and you want to try and present some sort of test results using them??

Don't you know how to put a phone into Field Test Mode? Google it.. then you get a numerical representation of the signal strength.

I'll save you trouble:

*3001#12345#*

the lower the negative number from -100 it is, the better the signal.

Try the test again and it might mean something.
Rating: 4 Votes

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