As discussed in a previous post, there has been multiple reports of iPhones loosing signal to a point where there is no coverage at all. These issues seem to be linked to a flaw in the design of the external antenna.

The first official response by Apple came from Steve Jobs: you are holding the phone wrong.

Later on, an official Apple PR statement states that (from CNET):

Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance (…). This is a fact of life for every wireless phone.

The latest official statement by Apple reads:

We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising. (…) the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.

So apparently, the is great and works just fine but the problem is the formula to calculate how many bars to show. And it mistakenly shows an average of two more bars that it should show. Hold on. That is bad. Very bad. So, basically, most of the times that I think I have good signal I actually don’t. Not to mention that the flaw in the antenna is still a fact and the users loose coverage when they hold the phone.

Anandtech publishes a very interesting review on the problem. Apparently, the iPhone4 looses an average of 19.8dB of signal when holding it naturally:

Now, let’s see what happens when the iPhone 4 looses this 19.8dB of power given that, with Apple’s formula, 5 bars are shown even when the power is quite low:

All in all, not very good news for iPhone 4 users. Neither for Apple. Even if the formula that calculates the bar is totally wrong (which, by the way, is terrible), the antenna still decouples and looses 19.8dB when holding the phone.

Again, worth the time reading Anandtech’s iPhone 4 review.

ps. I am considering getting a new phone and considering also changing provider. Any recommendations/comments on the new Droid, Nexus One, HTC Evo… ?

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