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

(View all)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 months ago
The "death grip" issue ain't over until Consumer Reports says it's over! :)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 months ago
Makes me glad I skipped the 4 and waited for the 4S
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
115 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)
Avatar
115 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

Apple Announces New 27-Inch iMac With 10th-Gen Processors, Up to 128GB RAM, 1080p Webcam, True Tone, and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 8:07 am PDT by
Apple today announced a new 27-inch iMac with faster 10th-generation Intel Core processor options, next-generation AMD graphics, up to 128GB of RAM, a higher-resolution 1080p front-facing FaceTime camera, a True Tone display with a nano-texture glass option, a T2 chip, higher fidelity speakers, studio-quality microphones, and more. A breakdown of the new 27-inch iMac's features and specs:10th...

Apple May Launch This Year's 'iPhone 12' Lineup in Two Stages, With 6.1-inch Models Debuting First

Monday August 3, 2020 3:14 am PDT by
Apple last week confirmed that its "‌iPhone‌ 12" launch will be delayed this year due to the ongoing global health crisis and restrictions on travel. Apple last year started selling iPhones in late September, but this year, Apple projects supply will be "available a few weeks later," suggesting a release sometime in October. We're expecting a total of four OLED iPhones in 5.4, 6.1, and...

Apple-Acquired Dark Sky Officially Shuts Down Android App

Saturday August 1, 2020 3:43 pm PDT by
Apple in March purchased weather app Dark Sky, and at that time, Dark Sky's developers said that the app's Android version would be discontinued on July 1, 2020. However, instead of shuttering the app on that date, the app's developers announced that the discontinuation would be delayed for another month. Now that it's August, Android users are no longer able to access the app, and...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 4: Apple TV Widget, Search Improvements, Exposure Notification API and More

Tuesday August 4, 2020 11:14 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth developer betas of iOS and iPadOS 14 for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features and design changes included in the update. Changes get smaller and less notable as the beta testing period goes on, but there are still some noteworthy new features in the fourth beta, which we've highlighted below. - Apple TV widget - There's a new Apple TV...

Apple Explains Why You Might See 'Not Charging' When a Mac is Plugged In

Monday August 3, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
If you have a Mac and have seen a "Not Charging" warning when plugging it in to power, Apple last week released a support document that explains why. Macs running macOS 10.15.5 or later have a Battery Health Management feature to preserve the life of the battery, and occasionally, the Battery Health Management option will cause the Mac to pause its charging for calibration purposes.Depending ...

Unreleased iPod Touch with Mac Pro Glossy Black Finish Shared Online

Sunday August 2, 2020 11:32 am PDT by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today posted images of what seems to be a first-generation iPod Touch prototype with a 2013 Mac Pro-style glossy black finish. The Twitter user claims that the iPod Touch prototype pictured has "the same coating as the 2013 Mac Pro." Had the finish been selected for the final product, it also would have been similar to the metallic glossy black finish that...

Phil Schiller Moving on to Become 'Apple Fellow,' Greg Joswiak Taking Over as Marketing SVP

Tuesday August 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Apple's Phil Schiller is moving on to become an "Apple Fellow," Apple announced today, while Greg Joswiak will take over as Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Schiller will continue to lead the App Store and Apple Events, but will no longer be in charge of marketing. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he is "thrilled" that Joswiak will be leading the marketing team, and that his...

Microsoft to Stop Supporting Office 2016 for Mac in October

Monday August 3, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Microsoft's Office 2016 for Mac is set to reach its end of support date on October 13, 2020, and after that date, connecting to Office 365 services using the Office 2016 for Mac software will no longer be supported. Microsoft shared the detail in a support document from July highlighting which versions of Office will be supported for connecting to Office 365 services in the future.Connecting ...

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Shares Requirements for Default Third-Party Browser and Email Apps With Developers

Monday August 3, 2020 4:28 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 plans to allow users to set a third-party app as the default email or browser app on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the current Apple-made default apps Safari and Mail. Apple hasn't provided many details on the new feature to users, but as noted by MacStories' Federico Vittici, Apple has shared documentation with developers who want their apps to have the option to be set as a...