Antennagate redux: Verizon iPhone 4 death-grip FAIL?

iPhone (Apple)
By Richi Jennings. February 9, 2011.

Uh-oh, it's antennagate all over again: this time, it's time to argue about the Verizon iPhone 4 and a death-grip effect on signal strength. And what's all this about a death-hug? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers know where to hold 'em.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention Y2K is still with us -- every year...


Charles Starrett raises his head above the parapet:

The Verizon CDMA iPhone 4 suffers from signal attenuation problems similar to ones discovered in the original. ... A normal grip on the bare phone can reduce Verizon’s four-bar signal down to one bar ... a 1.1Mbps download speed gets cut down to 0.1Mbps.


[A] problem with Wi-Fi reception appears when the device is held snugly in landscape orientation with two hands ... referred to as the “death hug.”


Although early Apple-sanctioned reviews of the Verizon iPhone 4 claimed that the antenna problems had been fixed in the CDMA model, the same reviewers failed to notice the antenna problems in their original coverage of the GSM model.

Xavier Lanier adds:

The latest iPhone launch is deja-vu all over again. ... Apple redesigned the iPhone 4?s antennas before unleashing it on Verizon’s network, but the exposed antennas are still vulnerable to the death grip.


Holding the Verizon iPhone can cause bars to drop, download speeds to slow and uploads to halt all together. ... There will be times when users are on the edge of being able to place/not being able to place a call. iPhones without cases will be more vulnerable.


Apple may have to again dole out free iPhone cases if this issue drums up too much noise.

But Mike Keller concludes "a lot of smoke, no fire":

You may remember the media frenzy when early reports of the iPhone 4’s “Death Grip” were released. Apple surely faced a PR nightmare, but in the end consumers agreed that the iPhone 4 ... was among the best smartphones on the market. ... Those that were ... affected by the “Death Grip” problem in every day use ... simply bought a case ... which largely fixed the issue.

Eric Slivka refers to the talking points:

It's not clear if such a "death hug" is of any practical concern. Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously referred to the antenna problems with the original iPhone 4 as a "non issue", telling a customer to simply "avoid holding it in that way".

  All phones do suffer from some attenuation when gripped tightly in certain ways.

And Federico Viticci thinks Starrett is hugging it wrong:

Frankly, that’s one kind of grip that requires some serious skills. Honestly, we ... don’t hold our phones like that. But then again, we don’t disdain hugs either.

Meanwhile, even MG Siegler is dismissive:

While I’ve always stood by my stance that the iPhone 4 ... antenna issue was very real, it wasn’t a really big deal, I see this as no deal. First of all, I cannot replicate the death grip issue on the Verizon iPhone. I could (and still can) on the AT&T version. ... Apple changed the antenna design with this new model, so it seems fairly hard to believe that they would have changed something without correcting that problem.


Covering the iPhone in four feet of concrete will also likely affect signal strength. ... Consider yourselves warned.


And Finally...

Y2K is still with us -- every year

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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