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.

deathgrip
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

arn Avatar
121 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
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FloatingBones Avatar
121 months ago
The "death grip" issue ain't over until Consumer Reports says it's over! :)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dugbug Avatar
121 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.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Four oF NINE Avatar
121 months ago
Makes me glad I skipped the 4 and waited for the 4S
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mavis Avatar
121 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!!!!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MagnusVonMagnum Avatar
121 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. ;)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
macbook pro magsafe

MagSafe is Coming Back to the Mac: A Look Back at Apple's Original Magnetic Charging Technology

Friday January 15, 2021 12:16 pm PST by
Surprise late night rumors last night provided us with our first in-depth look at what we can expect from the new MacBook Pro models that are coming in 2021, and there are some significant changes in the works. Along with additional ports, a new flat-edged design, and the removal of the Touch Bar, Apple's updated MacBook Pro machines will readopt MagSafe. MagSafe in the 2021 MacBook Pro...