Soon after the launch of iPhone 4, the web is flooded with reports and discussions about iPhone 4’s antenna issue. You may already heard about the problem. Known as the “Death Grip”, when you hold iPhone 4 in a way that covers the steel bands, it loses the reception. In worst case, the signal weakens to the point that calls are dropped. Engadget has put up a great video to demonstrate the issue.
The problem is attributed to the brilliant antenna design of iPhone 4. C.K. Sample has emailed Steve Jobs about the antenna issue. Here is what Steve Jobs replied:
Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.
It’s an interesting reply. The solution is to hold the iPhone 4 in a different way or buy an iPhone case. Does this make sense?
To me, the reception issue is a design issue or a limitation of the “brilliant” antenna design. However, as reported by AppleInsider, the “Death Grip” issue appears to be a software issue on the iOS 4 update. It’s also rumored that Apple will release a “bug fix” update next week (as early as Monday) to resolve the reception issue:
Readers report that Apple’s tech support forums originally confirmed that a iOS 4.0.1 software fix addressing the issue would ship early next week (as early as Monday), before the comments were subsequently taken down along with all the other related discussion about the matter.
The fix is expected to address a issue in iOS 4 related to radio frequency calibration of the baseband. Readers who saw the original forum discussions say that the issue is believed to occur when switching frequencies; because the lag is allegedly not calibrated correctly, it results in the device reporting “no service” rather than switching to the frequency with the best signal to noise ratio.
iOS 4 introduced some enhancements to how the baseband selects which frequencies to use, so it makes sense that the error may have crept into those changes. Additionally, this explains why iOS 4 has also caused similar problems for iPhone 3GS users.
At this point, Apple does not officially confirm the software fix. As a potential buyer of iPhone 4 (it’ll go on sale in my city next month), I really hope the reception issue can be fixed via software, considered that I used to hold the phone using my left hand.
Anyhow, let’s wait for a couple of days and see if there is any update of iOS 4. Stay tuned. I will keep you posted about the news.
Tip: If you want to learn more about the antenna issue of iPhone 4, check out this article written by an antenna expert from Antennasys Inc.