Verizon iPhone antenna redesign may thwart 'death grip,' says expert

Clues suggest Apple moved Wi-Fi antenna inside, added second cellular antenna

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AnandTech, however, claimed that the top of the Verizon iPhone -- the frame segment defined by the two slots at the top of either side -- was the second receive antenna.

On AT&T's iPhone, the top of the frame was split with a slot; one segment was part of the cellular antenna and the other was a section of the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS antenna.

If the top of the Verizon iPhone is a second receive antenna, what happened to the one for Wi-Fi?

Webb thinks he knows.

"There's evidence that Apple moved the Wi-Fi antenna into the case, under the glass back," said Webb after poring over available photographs and looking at the some of the smartphone's testing documents published this week on the Federal Communications Commission Web site.

One clue that the move was feasible is the lack of a SIM card slot; AT&T's model has one, but Verizon's does not.

"As soon as you get rid of the SIM card, you get a whole lot of real estate inside the phone," said Webb. "Enough to shove a Wi-Fi antenna behind the glass back."

By moving the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS antenna inside the iPhone, it freed space for Apple to craft two cellular antennas within the steel frame, Webb added.

Unlike journalists and bloggers who had brief hands-on time with the Verizon iPhone at the Tuesday launch event, Webb declined to speculate on how well the new antenna design will handle calls and data, or whether the "death grip" problem may return to haunt Apple.

"We'll see how it works next month, but I think the steps Apple took were all good," said Webb.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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