This is a perfect example for all those people out there that think they are unaffected by the signal issue and the rest of us are exaggerating.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball has been saying he was unaffected by the issue and then later guessed it was due to a strong AT&T signal. This is also the conclusion I came to. Thanks to AnandTech’s breakdown of the bars to actual signal strength, we now know that the signal drop is affecting more people than we first thought, it just didn’t show up in the bars. I covered this in detail yesterday, so check that out first if you haven’t already.
Today John Gruber posted his 3G speed test comparisons for iPhone 4, iPhone 4 in hand, iPhone 3GS and iPad 3G:
Using the AnandTech findings yesterday, a natural (not death) grip in the left hand produced a drop of about 20 dB in signal strength. A 20 dB drop in the total range of -113 dB to -51 dB is a 32.6% drop in quality. Gruber’s iPhone 4 download speed went from 2.38 Mbps to 1.61 Mbps, a 32.4% drop. This drop is identical to the drop in signal strength recorded by AnandTech. So even if he had 5 bars on desk and in hand, it’s still the same drop in strength I and others are seeing.
Not sure why Gruber’s upload speed were unaffected, but could just be a fluke. In my testing I’ve noticed my upload speeds were affected more than the download when in hand. Also, you can see even with the degraded signal he is still doing a touch better than on the 3GS. This might have to do more with the smart tower selection built into the iPhone 4 than a raw speed improvement. This tower selection allows the iPhone 4 to pick a tower that may have weaker signal strength, but has less traffic, giving you an overall better connection.
The reason this is a big problem for weak signal areas is that you go from decent broadband speeds (about 1.5 Mbps) to dial up speeds (<500 Kbps) or worse, no connection at all. This is far more painful and detrimental to the over functionality of the iPhone than dropping from 2.38 Mbps to 1.61 Mbps.
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