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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > You're Holding it Wrong

You're Holding it Wrong
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subego
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Jun 24, 2010, 11:54 PM
 
     
imitchellg5
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Jun 24, 2010, 11:55 PM
 
We're talking about this in the iPhone 4 thread.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 24, 2010, 11:58 PM
 
I felt it was big enough of a deal to warrant it's own thread.
     
driven
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Jun 25, 2010, 06:44 AM
 
It is what it is. I've had WinMobile phones that had the same issue years ago. Generally I'm using a headset anyway and the phone is in my pocket.

What I'm more amazed with is the hate and vitriol in the comments section of that article. Seems everyone needs someone or some company to be evil and worthy of wrath lately. If you don't like a company or product, move on. But of course moving on doesn't satisfy the psychological need to hate someone.

Oh well ... still debating getting this phone. Just waiting for it to move from my "want" category to my "need" category. :-)
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The Final Dakar
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:09 AM
 
Saw this answer coming a mile away.
     
jokell82
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:24 AM
 

All glory to the hypnotoad.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:28 AM
 
^^^

Well, for my part, I've been waiting for this as a panacea for iPhone reception issues. I'm still hobbling along with my aluminum faraday cage 1G model. I can swing a barely intelligible phone call in one room of our apartment, and while I can text in more places, every text needs to be fully monitored, because it can be getting three bars and switch to "no service" in a blink. It's not like I'm in BFI either, I live near freaking Wrigley Field.

Basically, I decided there was no solution other than a microcell, and was only holding off until I could test an iPhone 4.

After reading the article, I was like "so I have to get reamed by AT&T, again".

All this being said, Becky Worley on TNT said she was able to duplicate the same issue on her 3GS, so it could be an iOS 4 problem.
     
jokell82
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
^^^

Well, for my part, I've been waiting for this as a panacea for iPhone reception issues. I'm still hobbling along with my aluminum faraday cage 1G model. I can swing a barely intelligible phone call in one room of our apartment, and while I can text in more places, every text needs to be fully monitored, because it can be getting three bars and switch to "no service" in a blink. It's not like I'm in BFI either, I live near freaking Wrigley Field.

Basically, I decided there was no solution other than a microcell, and was only holding off until I could test an iPhone 4.

After reading the article, I was like "so I have to get reamed by AT&T, again".

All this being said, Becky Worley on TNT said she was able to duplicate the same issue on her 3GS, so it could be an iOS 4 problem.
It's not a software problem. It's true that all phones have their antennas in the bottom of the phone, so holding it your hand will decrease signal strength in almost every phone. The issue is that with the iPhone 4 it is way more pronounced since your hand can actually short the antennas together.

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The Final Dakar
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:36 AM
 
So, maybe this was the reason Jobs had a problem with the demo on stage? He forgot he was holding the damn thing wrong?
     
jokell82
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Jun 25, 2010, 09:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
So, maybe this was the reason Jobs had a problem with the demo on stage? He forgot he was holding the damn thing wrong?
Well it doesn't seem to affect Wifi, so I don't think that was the problem at the keynote.

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subego  (op)
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Jun 25, 2010, 10:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
It's not a software problem. It's true that all phones have their antennas in the bottom of the phone, so holding it your hand will decrease signal strength in almost every phone. The issue is that with the iPhone 4 it is way more pronounced since your hand can actually short the antennas together.
You callin' Becky a liar?
     
jokell82
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Jun 25, 2010, 10:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
You callin' Becky a liar?
Nope.

Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
It's not a software problem. It's true that all phones have their antennas in the bottom of the phone, so holding it your hand will decrease signal strength in almost every phone. The issue is that with the iPhone 4 it is way more pronounced since your hand can actually short the antennas together.

All glory to the hypnotoad.
     
subego  (op)
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Jun 25, 2010, 11:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
Nope.
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
It's not a software problem. It's true that all phones have their antennas in the bottom of the phone, so holding it your hand will decrease signal strength in almost every phone. The issue is that with the iPhone 4 it is way more pronounced since your hand can actually short the antennas together.
She said it was identical on the 3GS.
     
houstonmacbro
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Jun 25, 2010, 11:07 AM
 
I am not able to duplicate this on my 3GS.

Originally Posted by subego View Post
She said it was identical on the 3GS.
     
jokell82
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Jun 25, 2010, 11:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
She said it was identical on the 3GS.
Then she's wrong. The same issue exists on the majority of cell phones, but again not to the degree of the iPhone 4.

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subego  (op)
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Jun 25, 2010, 11:24 AM
 
Cover your ears Becky! Don't listen to them!
     
mduell
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Jun 25, 2010, 04:48 PM
 
     
driven
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Jun 25, 2010, 05:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Some folks are spending far too much time on this. Just silly.
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Jun 25, 2010, 06:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by driven View Post
Some folks are spending far too much time on this. Just silly.
Yup, but right now its getting the clicks. So the blogs are salivating.

Now I'm sure we'll hear a story about it on NPR.

Can't wait for this one to blow over.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jun 26, 2010, 04:57 AM
 
OMG breaking news!

Reception problems on the iPhone 3G (from 2008, mind):

YouTube - iPhone 3g Poor Reception

Also, Nokio 6230 with poor reception when you hold it certain ways:

YouTube - Nokia 6230 RF loss when held in hand - like iPhone
     
Zeeb
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Jun 26, 2010, 09:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
OMG breaking news!

Reception problems on the iPhone 3G (from 2008, mind):

YouTube - iPhone 3g Poor Reception

Also, Nokio 6230 with poor reception when you hold it certain ways:

YouTube - Nokia 6230 RF loss when held in hand - like iPhone
I don't know that finding other poorly designed phones with the same issue will make people suddenly ignore the reception issues on the new iPhone. It's true that holding a phone in your hand decreases the signal *a little* on other handsets, but the iPhone 4 completely loses it's signal in some cases--like mine. That's the sucky part.

I held the 3GS in my hand in the same way and I only lost one bar.
     
raymcm
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Jun 26, 2010, 02:41 PM
 
Much as I love my iPhone, this is one good reason I would NEVER buy a new one for at least six months after it is released. Having the latest gadget is great but only when it works.

As for using a case to stop this problem ... if Apple sold cars would the paint/seats/doors be optional extras ?
     
driven
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Jun 26, 2010, 04:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by raymcm View Post
Much as I love my iPhone, this is one good reason I would NEVER buy a new one for at least six months after it is released. Having the latest gadget is great but only when it works.

As for using a case to stop this problem ... if Apple sold cars would the paint/seats/doors be optional extras ?
No, but a bra cover to keep the front paint from chipping might be. (Better analogy).
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mrtew
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Jun 27, 2010, 01:05 AM
 
I think all they have to do is issue a patch that replaces the screen lock wallpaper image for people that don't get bumpers.


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Jun 27, 2010, 10:45 AM
 
I heard something today on TV (on the Weather Channel of all places!) about Apple working on a firmware update to address the "you're holding it wrong" issue. That should be interesting...how will the software impact this problem? Crank up the power? (You're holding it hot!), alter which antenna it uses (You're using it in CDMA) or something else (You're connecting via teleptathy)?

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Jun 29, 2010, 11:20 AM
 
I think it's a software issue.

I did a test. I had medium 3G connection with about 300-400 Kb/sec.

Then I cupped the iPhone, the bars dropped and data fell to Edge. Speed tests showed really slow connection.

After loosening the grip, the iPhone failed to get back to 3G. Even turning on 3G or cellular data didn't help.
Only after a reboot I got 3G back.

-t
     
jokell82
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Jun 29, 2010, 03:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
I think it's a software issue.

I did a test. I had medium 3G connection with about 300-400 Kb/sec.

Then I cupped the iPhone, the bars dropped and data fell to Edge. Speed tests showed really slow connection.

After loosening the grip, the iPhone failed to get back to 3G. Even turning on 3G or cellular data didn't help.
Only after a reboot I got 3G back.

-t
This is not software:
The Spot on Vimeo

I can do the exact same thing with my phone.

All glory to the hypnotoad.
     
driven
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Jun 29, 2010, 03:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
This is not software:
The Spot on Vimeo

I can do the exact same thing with my phone.
Since one of you "knows" it's a software issue and the other of you "knows" that it isn't, why don't we wait for Apple's next patch and see if it fixes it. Either way the argument is settled.
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fletch521
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Jun 29, 2010, 04:07 PM
 
Had my iPhone 4 for a few hours now. I can replicate the "issue" by intentionally holding it wrong. The rest of the time I get much better service than the 3G it replaces.

It is a radio, they had to put the antenna somewhere...
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turtle777
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Jun 29, 2010, 10:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
This is not software:
The Spot on Vimeo

I can do the exact same thing with my phone.
Well, rebooting my iPhone must have magicallychanged my hardware. Makes sense.

-t
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 10:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Well, rebooting my iPhone must have magicallychanged my hardware. Makes sense.
Well, duh. You obviously missed the part of the keynote where Steve highlighted the Cybertron technology that allows for self-upgrades. It was point 4 or 5, I think.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 10:50 AM
 
Nope, antenna issue isn't a problem at all.

Apple hiring iPhone antenna engineers for some reason -- Engadget
     
tonewheel
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Jun 30, 2010, 06:05 PM
 
There's been only one credible (read "unsensational") technical piece of third party testing done (and it isn't from "Boy Genius"). Here's a link, below. For the most part, what Apple is saying is true.

I received my phone one week ago today. I experienced the yellow spots on the screen, and although they were diminishing rapidly, I exchanged mine for another unit yesterday, no questions asked.

Reception issues? I can hold my phone as described ("left handed") and get the bars to drop from 5 to 2. But, there's no fall off whatsoever with call quality. I have never experienced a dropped call.

The article states the iP4 reception is a huge improvement over the 3G/S. Many on the blogs agree.

Apple's iPhone 4: Thoroughly Reviewed - AnandTech :: Your Source for Hardware Analysis and News
     
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Jul 2, 2010, 10:54 AM
 
From Daring Fireball

Translation From Apple’s Unique Dialect of PR-Speak to English of the ‘Letter From Apple Regarding iPhone 4’

Friday, 2 July 2010

Source: “Letter From Apple Regarding iPhone 4”.

The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple’s history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever, and users have told us that they love it. So we were surprised when we read reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.

We cannot believe we had to write this ****ing letter.

To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones.

We cannot believe we’re getting shit for this.

But some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design.

(No translation necessary.)

At the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS. They are delighted. This matches our own experience and testing. What can explain all of this?

It really is a better antenna and gets better reception, overall, than any previous iPhone. That’s really the hell of this whole goddamn situation. It’s like a two steps forward, one step back design, except maybe more like three steps forward, because this thing is faster at downloading, 10 times faster at uploading, and most importantly is better at not dropping calls with a weak signal. But, yes, there’s that one step back, wherein it can suffer from unintended attenuation when you bridge the lower-left antenna gap with your skin, and frankly, we’re a little pissed that this one step back is getting all the attention.

We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.

We are going to blame AT&T.

Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that 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. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars.

We decided from the outset to set the formula for our bars-of-signal strength indicator to make the iPhone look good — to make it look as it “gets more bars”. That decision has now bit us on our ass.

Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.

Yes, with no case on the phone, your signal strength can drop by about 20 or even 30 percent depending how you hold the phone. We’re going to change the bar algorithm so that you’ll only lose one bar (maybe two, if you’re holding the phone obnoxiously tight or have gross sweaty palms) if you’re holding it that way.

To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.

We are braced for the backlash when, after installing this update, people who weren’t experiencing any problems at all with their iPhones start complaining, loudly, that their phones which used to get five bars now only get three or two or whatever from the same locations, and we all know — us and everyone reading this — that Gizmodo will immediately declare that the update has made iPhone 4 reception worse, even though we’ve just explained that we’re not changing anything related to actual reception, but rather only to how we indicate signal strength.

We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

(No translation necessary.)

We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same — the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate. For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused.

Don’t **** this thing up for us. We mean, have you seen the Retina Display?

As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.

We dare you.

And take your class action suits filed four days after we released the goddamn thing and stick them up your ****ing asses.

We hope you love the iPhone 4 as much as we do.

Seriously, have you seen it?

Thank you for your patience and support.

Don’t hold it that way or buy a case.
( Last edited by Spheric Harlot; Jul 2, 2010 at 11:27 AM. )
     
amazing
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Jul 2, 2010, 11:09 AM
 
Absolutely brilliant translation!

And thanks for posting it, spheric!
     
awaspaas
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Jul 2, 2010, 11:49 AM
 
So, can we all agree that it's a software issue AND a hardware issue? Because of the calibration of the bars, you can go from 5 bars to 1 bar by gripping it if your signal is marginal, or you can stay at 5 bars when gripping it if your signal is excellent.
     
Wiskedjak
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Jul 2, 2010, 11:59 AM
 
It's a hardware issue, and Apple is going to try and use software to mask it.

Nice to see even Gruber is taking Apple to task for this.
     
amazing
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Jul 2, 2010, 12:03 PM
 
Apple's problem is entirely due to poor design. They should've coated the metal or covered it with some protective skin, something like translucent plastic around the metal.

Apple's solution is entirely software.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 2, 2010, 12:28 PM
 
Apple's "solution" is to bring the phone's display in line with other phones, and to accept that this is an "issue" that affects every phone to a degree and as such isn't really fixable or fixworthy.
     
mduell
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Jul 2, 2010, 12:33 PM
 
Except they're not bringing it in line, they're just fiddling the scale. In terms of actual signal loss, the iPhone 4 takes a huge drop when you touch it.
     
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Jul 2, 2010, 12:37 PM
 
Ive said recently that the metal band is one piece and the divisions are just cosmetic. So wouldn't that counter the 'bridging' antenna theory, since it's all once piece really? And if the bottom of the phone is where the GSM antenna is, and I cover 30% of it with a cupping hand, is it unreasonable to expect a certain percentage loss in dBi? Paired with Apple's description of an improper algorithm to display bars and common reviews of improved real-world signal experiences (even if not displayed in bars that way), maybe the antenna thing is a bit over-hyped?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Jul 2, 2010, 12:37 PM
 
Many other phones do too, but you don't notice because either coverage is better and/or the scale is more standard.
     
awaspaas
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Jul 2, 2010, 01:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
Ive said recently that the metal band is one piece and the divisions are just cosmetic. So wouldn't that counter the 'bridging' antenna theory, since it's all once piece really? And if the bottom of the phone is where the GSM antenna is, and I cover 30% of it with a cupping hand, is it unreasonable to expect a certain percentage loss in dBi? Paired with Apple's description of an improper algorithm to display bars and common reviews of improved real-world signal experiences (even if not displayed in bars that way), maybe the antenna thing is a bit over-hyped?
Does anybody definitively know whether or not the metal pieces are indeed separate? In the keynote, the two pieces were shown separated to illustrate which is used for what. In that linked article, Ive only says the black plastic separators are machined along with the steel, not that it's one all one piece with cosmetic black lines.
     
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Jul 2, 2010, 01:15 PM
 
All of this is just pure awesomeness.®
     
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Jul 2, 2010, 01:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by awaspaas View Post
Does anybody definitively know whether or not the metal pieces are indeed separate? In the keynote, the two pieces were shown separated to illustrate which is used for what. In that linked article, Ive only says the black plastic separators are machined along with the steel, not that it's one all one piece with cosmetic black lines.
I believe I've hear that its a unibody construction, which leads me to believe it is indeed one piece.

All of this is quickly getting to be over my head. Actually, it already is. I am now just awaiting the iOS update in hopes that it alleviates the issue. If it doesn't, then I'll figure out another way that satisfies me, whether it be a case (blech!) or a less ugly solution.
     
jokell82
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Jul 2, 2010, 01:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Many other phones do too, but you don't notice because either coverage is better and/or the scale is more standard.
That doesn't explain everything, though, because previous iPhones used the same scale, yet their signals do not drop nearly as much as the iPhone 4 when covering the antenna.

I'd be curious to see if you can find *any* other phone that has a 24db drop when holding it.

All glory to the hypnotoad.
     
jokell82
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Jul 2, 2010, 01:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by awaspaas View Post
Does anybody definitively know whether or not the metal pieces are indeed separate? In the keynote, the two pieces were shown separated to illustrate which is used for what. In that linked article, Ive only says the black plastic separators are machined along with the steel, not that it's one all one piece with cosmetic black lines.
Actually it just says the black pieces are co-molded in to create on piece, but that does not mean that the actual antenna pieces are touching each other. If they were there would be no need for the black separators to begin with.

All glory to the hypnotoad.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Jul 2, 2010, 02:34 PM
 
As far as I can see, it's for appearance only:

http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.net/ig...LJhgjQuCD.huge

If you look, right behind the separator is a piece of metal that obviously touches both sides of the "antenna". The break in the metal piece is actually on the RIGHT side of the iPhone looking at that photo. Anyone want to tear theirs down and give us the photos we are looking for?
     
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Jul 2, 2010, 02:41 PM
 
Apple's Crazy Open Letter Doesn't Even Address The Real Issue - Yahoo! Finance

"Granted that signal strength is often being over reported, why does that particular grip cause the reported signal strength to go down?

"Some possibilities:

"--There really is an antenna problem, and the signal strength really is going down. That that strength is also being misreported is neither here nor there.
--There is no antenna problem, but touching the death spot does something else to the signal which interacts with the signal computation algorithm in such a way as to make the iPhone 4 suddenly report signal strength accurately.
--Touching that spot on the iPhone 4 causes the machine to take a long hard look at itself and be more honest about what's really going on."

That last sentence is pretty hilarious!
     
mrtew
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Jul 2, 2010, 02:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Except they're not bringing it in line, they're just fiddling the scale. In terms of actual signal loss, the iPhone 4 takes a huge drop when you touch it.

I thought they JUST SAID it takes only a small drop when you touch it but the bars make it look like a huge drop since 40%-100% signal is all displayed as 5 bars. A 42% signal dropping to a 19% signal for example would look like you just lost 3 bars when really you just lost a bit. And by the way don't hold it like that.

I love the U.S., but we need some time apart.
     
 
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