So John Gruber is affected by iPhone 4 antenna issue

by Justin Horn on Jul 1st, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

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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View 1 Comments
Antenna Issue, iPhone 4


  1. Tamarai
    July 1st, 2010 11:30 pm

    From all I’ve been reading, I thought it must be signal strength too. While I have no idea what it is, in my case it nothing to do with signal strength. The Apple Store where I got mine is near an AT&T tower, full bars on both my iPhone4 and their display models. If I gripped mine in the store, signal down to nothing every time — their display models were unaffected, at least the 3 I tried it on.

    I just today had mine replaced with a new one. Same issues. I bought an AT&T MicroCell for my apartment — full bars everywhere, strong signal — but gripping the phone did the same signal strength trick, down to no bars.

    To much hassle, I returned the iPhone4 and had my contract put back the way it was. Just think, all these problematic iPhone-4′s are going to wind up being the refurbs they hand out — this will be an ongoing issue for a long time, I’ll wait for the iPhone-5 (or maybe a 4.5?)

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