Relative to the iPhone 4′s antenna issues everyone’s howling about, I’m trying to square this with this. Is the software really displaying the reception-strength bars wrong, or is it really a hand-position-muffles-antenna issue?
The Anandtech review – using real reception measurements not the graphical bars – indicates that iPhone 4′s antenna is better than earlier models in areas of low reception. This is great news for folks who have to endure poor connectivity in their usual locations, but it does nothing to explain the mysterious death grip issue – whereby holding the phone in a normal and comfortable way reduces the antenna’s effectiveness.
It’s important to point out that all phones employing the built-in-antenna or antenna-inside-case paradigms can suffer from attenuation just being held in the hand. It’s just that Apple’s problem seems dramatic – and surprisingly like something that would/should have been caught early on in the product cycle.
From my viewpoint – I’m not an iPhone owner, though I have had a long succession of smartphones – it makes perfect sense for iPhone 4 owners to get themselves a bumper-type case which reduces (resolves?) the attenuation problem. The double benefit: normal handling doesn’t ding up the phone’s case and even an occasional drop will be tolerated. To those who would get pissy over spending $29 on such a case, I’d simply ask that you take a long look at what the iPhone is costing you over the two-year period of your contract (upwards of $2000 including all fees for hardware and services) and recognize that perhaps $29 is worth it to protect that investment.
UPDATE: Here’s a great, recent, review of the iPhone 4 discussing both the quality of the device compared to earlier models (and Android devices) and the antenna issue (which, it’s claimed, happens only under low-connectivity conditions).