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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_site

[url]

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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