IPhone :: Signal - Larger Antenna Has Different Frequency To The Small One

Jun 29, 2010

I'm an engineer, and a collegue of mine has a friend (tedious link I know!) who works for a mobile phone manufacturer as an engineer. His take on the whole atenna issue is the following:

1. Sticking your hand over the join between the atennae short circuits them (we all knew this!)

2. The short circuit causes the two small antennae to form one much larger one (obvious I know...bear with me!)

3. This larger antenna has a different frequency to the small one.

4. The phone detects this and switches between frequencies.

Sounds simple in practice, but apparently it takes an age for the software to switch between the two frequencies. My guess would be this is to prevent the phone from hunting between signals. This could indeed be what Apple were talking about when they mentioned that the new phone placed lower demands on the network.

For the sake of making things easy to understand, have a read through the two artciles on Wikipedia and HowStuffWorks:



Basically, a Cell Tower has a finite number of frequencies it can use and assigns your phone to one of these frequencies. As you move around however, you'll be assigned different frequencies on different towers depending on what's available. As you can imagine, if a phone is super sensitive to variations in signal quality, it can reach a point where it jumps continuously between cell towers, placing high demand on all the switching hardware in the network. In reality, the user wouldn't notice any change in call quality if it stayed on one tower. By placing a delay in the frequency switching on the phone, your call will no longer be shuffled around towers constantly and will instead stick to one cell tower for longer, reducing the amount of juggling the network servers have to do and hence reducing dropped calls.

Here in lies the problem. When you change the length of the antenna on the phone, you cut out it's ability to see one segment of frequencies. The phone then starts looking for another available frequency. This now takes forever. Although the frequency may well be avaible, by the time it's found it, the call has been dropped as the slightly weaking signal it is expecting as you move away from the original tower has completely dissapeared.

The design of the antenna is undoubtably a fundamental design issue, which has somehow been overlooked or ignored. Let's not get into the politics of that here. What this does highlight however is that, if the delay between frequency switching is removed, reduced or in some way made smarter, the switch will be so quick, it won't have any noticeable effect on your call as it will just be another frequency switch similar to that between a towers.

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I m having an factory unlocked iphone 4S and i starts losing my signal bars when i take out my phone from case (bumper) and sometimes in case also when i hold my phone with some force its again starts lossing its signal bar Is any 1 having this problem ..?i m having iOS 5.1..!

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Jan 4, 2010

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Yes, I know there are plenty of threads on this already, I just wanna do a quick straw poll to get a sense of whether this is a design or manufacturing/batch fault.I can replicate the left handed signal drop issue on the iPhone 4, and disabling 3g does help alleviate the issue. I'm in the UK on o2, so far no dropped calls, although I don't ever recall having dropped calls at all.Given how this seems to be a pretty hardware serious fault, I may march into the Apple store and DEMAND a free bumper in the interim.

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Jun 26, 2010

I've had the iP4 since the launch day and yes I have seen the bars drop but haven't dropped a darn call yet. I'm on the phone for the better part of each day and I, like Mr. Jobs, see this as a NON ISSUE. It's just like the old story "Dr. my arm hurts when I position it like this" Dr: "Well don't do that" " Honestly, the news, media and Apple haters have taken this story and misconstrued the hell out of it. Whenever any company sells a million of anything, there are going to be some issues with a small % of the devices. That's a given. The problem nowadays, is that the first "I want some media love-whore attention jerk" will begin to whine, tip news outlets and complain on every message bored around. I've TRIED to drop a call by using a Samurai Death Grip and it just wouldn't happen. Yes, the bars fall but it's not hurting reception or the phones performance. Anywho, to those who have been weary about picking up and iP4 because of this nonsense please don't hesitate it's seriously not that bad.

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Aug 5, 2010

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I'm tempted to get one but what's holding me back is the antenna issue right now, but I was also curious if there were any other problems people were having?

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Jun 30, 2010

So since I have been having the reception antenna issues I thought I would make an appointment and stop in to the Apple store today. I told the guy all my issues and he said we can either replace it or give you a bumper and see if it helps. I thought it would be a good idea if I started fresh with a new phone. He went in back and came out with a box that was NOT the nice small iPhone 4 retail box.

It was plastic looking like one of those small hardware screwdriver boxes with all the little bits. He opened the box and in it was an iPhone 4 surrounded in black foam and the phone was wrapped in a little bag. My first thought was this has to be a refurbished or one someone brought back that was having a different problem. He said "How could it be refurbished? The phone just came out." I didn't believe him cause he has a odd smirk on his face when he said it.....

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Jul 9, 2010

Do you think that Apple made a calculated risk with it's new antenna design? Let's take the 3G/3GS.....the antenna is on the inside of the phone behind essentially an outer plastic shell. So a naked iPhone 3GS the antenna signal goes through 1 layer (the plastic back).

Do you think Apple had enough research and statistics to show that the majority of users put an iPhone in some sort of case, whether that case is plastic or silicone? So now on a 3GS, the antenna has to go through the plastic back, then a plastic/silicone case....now it's going through 2 layers. Do you think they determined that this combo caused a lower/weaker signal?

Now the iPhone 4....antenna on the outside. Do you think Apple took a calculated risk in knowing that most people put it in a case anyway (heck even Steve in one of his emails suggested using a case) and the fact they came out with the bumper....that they knew since most people would put a case on it....that the antenna being on the outside would provide a stronger signal?

Yes, the people who choose to go caseless with their phones are more easily affected by the issue, but since that may be the minority of users, Apple is ok with saying "Hold it differently"? We all know Apple does things based on what they "think" the majority of users will do....ie: no firewire on low end Macbooks.I don't know anything about antenna signals, so I'm just guessing here.....but if an antenna's signal is degraded behind each layer of plastic etc, then by moving the antenna outside, Apple is giving it a better chance at getting a stronger signal, even though there is a side effect of direct contact with skin that can cause the signal to degrade significantly.

Tests I would like to see are the difference in signal strength in a 3GS with the back on and the back off.

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I live in a poor reception area on the Rogers network. I've noticed that when I go into the basement the phone drops a signal pretty quickly. I am okay with this and is expected. My issue is when I get back on to the main floor, the phone does not pick up a signal again for a long time. Sometimes even toggling airplane mode doesn't work. My wife's iPhone does the same thing.

Anybody else having this problem?

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Jun 29, 2010

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My iPhone 4 has been really buggy with the data connections on 3G. I run Speed-Test.Net on it and it barely registers sometimes.....I have to turn it off, reset the network, put it in airplane mode, and then once in a while it will kick in with decent 3G speeds. I thought I was going mad or just imagining this due to all the talk about the antenna. Then I did a test beside someone else's 3GS and I knew there was a problem. I called ATT and got the tier 1 tech. They tried all the stuff I tried above and the Speed-Test and the latency test were all still terrible numbers.

They made me an appointment at the Apple store for 5:30 PM today. I show up and I don't even tell the genius my problem and she is like they are working on the 4.0.1 firmware fix. She did not even look at my phone. The problem is apparently very widespread, and really has nothing to do with the antenna, and that the shorting is just a symptom of the software glitches and the real issue was the switch from the normal sim to the micro sim. Apparently the software was written for the regular sim, and then they made an 11th hour switch to the micro sim, and it was never properly tested. She also said that all the Apple store employees that have the iPhone 4 have the same issues and they are all bummed............

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Aug 14, 2010

Time to buy a new one.The amorphous metal alloys developed by Liquidmetal Technologies may be used in the design and development of Apples next generation wireless antenna, according to Liquidmetal founder Dr. Atakan Peker. In an interview with Cult of Mac, Dr. Peker notes that the properties of Liquidmetal make is an excellent substrate for usage as an antenna and could be one of many reasons Apple signed a broad licensing deal with the California company.Described as a metallic glass, the various alloys used in Liquidmetal offer a high strength to weight ratio, high wear resistance, and a low softening temperature that allows it to be molded into complex shapes and designs. Liquidmetal technology is already used in a wide variety of consumer products including sports equipment like golf clubs and skis, jewelry, and in electronics where it makes its appearance in the casings of USB thumb drives, MP3 players, and mobile phones. It is also used in the antenna of the Verizon USB727 wireless modem, which is known for its excellent reception. Surprise, surprise, Apple already uses this novel technology in its newly released Magic Trackpad.URL...

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