I know there have been a LOT of videos out there showing reception issues with the iPhone4 depending on how you hold it.  Personally I am not seeing this issue - As the video above shows. Don't get me wrong I am not saying this issue is not happening to some people - just that it is not happening to all people.  Here is what Apple said about the issue. (From Engadget

Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.

There are also many other post out there - Gizmodo has a post that has many videos showing people that do have the issue.  

Here is my theory on this and mind you it is a long time since I worked with a Smith Chart (Yes I have an Engineering Degree - and was even the Chief Engineer at a company that made Quartz Crystal Oscillators - which are the heart of RF systems).  I think this is a Stub issue where depending on what band you are on and the size of your hand, and the amount of muscle / fat in your hand / body you may or may not see this issue. Yes that sounds like voodoo - Welcome to RF engineering.  One part science one part magic. 

The following is as non-technical as I can make this.  Antennas are tuned for specific lengths - known as Stubs - where if you hit the right length you get the best reception.  However there are specific lengths that cause an anti-stub and these will actually cause total loss of reception. The way the system sees the antenna length will vary when external stimuli are introduced (you). How the circuit looks at you in addition to the circuit will depend on many factors - How big you are overall, the size of your hand, the make up of the fat / muscle in your body, and where you are touching the antenna.  Some people I think are perfect anti-stubs and cause complete loss of signal.  Others will have minimal to no effect.  It is possible when (if) I loose 20 pounds - that my results above could change - just as they could change based on the Cell band the phone is on. 

Again I have been away from the bench (RF Engineering) for a while - almost 10 years.  So above is just my theory.  I am sure others have their theories.  And by no means was the above meant to be a RF Engineering 101 course - I leave that for Les Besser who I met a long time ago when just a college student and he pointed me to the RF world.  Actually I reached out to Besser and Associates - the foremost authorities on RF engineering and they gave me the contact info of their Antenna Guru. If he replies back I will update this post with his thoughts. 

Let me know in the comments below if you are having the issue with the reception of the iPhone 4 getting worse when you hold it in your hand.  

Update 1: Engadget found their own antenna expert here is their post on this subject.

Update 2: Here is a
link to my second video which shows me holding with the "Death Grip" for over a minute with Zero issues.  Again not saying it is not happening to others - just that it is not happening to me. Obviously your results may vary. 


Category:breaking news -- posted at: 10:59am EST
Comments[14]

  • Robb, I'll be interested in hearing about this problem on your show. At this point I've decided to hold off on buying the iPhone 4. I personally can't deal with more dropped calls. I was hoping that Apple would correct these problems by this iteration of the phone, instead it's getting worse. You may want to read the article linked below. This guy did some testing and concluded that the new iPhone is a great device but a BAD phone. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this now that more data is out there. You don't know how disappointed I am...I don't know if I can hold off until iPhone 5. http://fscked.co.uk/post/751030001/more-on-the-iphone-4-signal-issue

    posted by: Dantv on 2010-06-29 22:57:39

  • Joeshmoe - You obviously did not READ the whole post and look at my second link to a video showing me holding it per the "Death Grip" for over a minute with no change to the Bars - Just Sayin'

    posted by: rob@wizzard.tv on 2010-06-29 16:31:18

  • You have to connect the bottom with the left side. When you are holding it in your palm you were not touch the bottom past the strip. And obviously you did not watch very many of those videos or you would know the bars to not all drop instantly. You have to actually hold it for more than two seconds and the bars slowly drop one by one which suck if you are doing something like making a phone call!

    posted by: Joeshmoe on 2010-06-29 14:01:13

  • I have to say that o can replicate the "reception" issue sometimes, depending on where I am. On day one - no case/screen protector at Lowe's, I could do it. I was near the back of the store - don't know if that matters. Also, in my bathroom (sitting in a certain position) - also made the bars go down. I now have a RocketFish "smoke" case and Invisible Shield Full Body screen protector. I can replicate the same signal drop. However at work 25 miles away in an area where I get netter/faster 3G throughput - I can't replicate it at all. Personally, I don't think it's a skin contact/hardware issue. It may be a signal/software issue. Great show! Thanks for the vids too.

    posted by: Palaemon on 2010-06-28 14:54:05

  • Long time listener, first time commenter... always wanted to say something like that. Anyhoo, Giz posted this and thought you'd be interested, http://gizmodo.com/5573284/rumor-ios-401-update-coming-on-monday-will-fix-reception-problems I hope this is true and that it is a calibration issue in the baseband. I'm a current iPhone 3G owner, and while I am a purist (naked iPhone is the way to go) I'm getting the iPhone 4 regardless even if I need a bumber. Love the show.

    posted by: Geoff M. on 2010-06-26 23:58:01

  • Thanks Rob...I'll probably bite the bullet and hope for the best. I really want to experience the iPhone 4 speed compared to my 3G...Regarding the Mophie? Which juice pack works with the iPhone 4? I have a mophie for my current 3G. Thanks.

    posted by: Dantv on 2010-06-26 22:16:23

  • Just a quick tip the original iphone dock also works perfect on the iphone 4.

    posted by: Andres on 2010-06-26 18:00:00

  • Well, I've been waiting for the iPhone 4. Never updated to the 3GS as my contract just expired. This is so depressing to me at the moment. I've held up on my upgrade until there is a resolution to this problem. Seems like a hardware problem to me. Will Apple have to issue a recall? Can some sort of coating be applied to the antenna bands? I can't deal with more dropped calls. As much as I love the iPhone, I need to be able to talk on the phone without dealing with dropped calls every phone call. So now I wait...and probably now will wait to see what comes out for Android or WinMo7 in the next couple of months. Love the show BTW. Thanks.

    posted by: Dantv on 2010-06-26 17:19:07

  • I do have the reception issue but i hold the phone another way so its not an issue for me. I like to have my iphone naked so the bumpers are not a fix for me and i think they are over priced. Anyways I love the show and I love the iphone 4. Facetime is awesome!!!

    posted by: Andres on 2010-06-26 14:59:39

  • Rob, I'm not referring to the total runtime of your video but the length of time you're holding the phone in one position. I'm thinking for the bars to update you may have to hold it for maybe 5-10 seconds in the same position to be sure nothing is happening. That being said you're probably right that the issue seems to be blown out of proportions. Though I'd appreciate if apple would step up to offer bumpers to affected customers (while that would likely lead to a lot of people not having the issue to claiming they have it) Sebastian PS love the show and I'm still catching up on all the old ones as it's fun to go with you through the history of the iPhone. I started out at around episode 90 and I've so far managed to get to number 45.

    posted by: Sebastian on 2010-06-26 13:46:09

  • I don't have my phone yet but from what I've seen / read, you might not have hold your phone long enough in one position for the bars to update. While apple's explanation makes sense to a certain degree, only few phones do have antennae on the outside that allow for electrical conductive contact with your hand and a physical connection between multiple antennae if I'm understanding correctly. Plus if I would hold an iPhone in my left hand, I would do it in a similar way as is shown in a couple of videos with people that demonstrate the issue (I hokd my phone similarily with my left hand). There is also a photo collage that presumely shows different apple marketing shots with people holding it like that in their left hand. So I the advice for people that have the issue and naturally do hold the phone that way (unless they want to make it fail for publicity sake) isn't a very good one. Maybe apple thought of that potential issue and maybe they could have found a better way to position those different antennae to prevent the issue for left-hand holders (possibly causing it for right-hand holders) or maybe not. We'll probably never find out. Sebastian

    posted by: Sebastian on 2010-06-26 07:24:20

  • Apple should now reduce the price of these bumpers or make them free, at least for those who are having the issues.

    posted by: Bee Mat on 2010-06-26 07:24:11

  • I'm not having any issues, aside from those issues.... Rob, you carrier says wizzard, is that from a jailbreak on the iPhone 4 or some other hack

    posted by: iPhone_Fenix on 2010-06-26 07:06:36

  • I fixed it....BUMPER CASE :)

    posted by: Sean M on 2010-06-26 06:47:25

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