Does the iPhone 4 really have an antenna issue?

On Monday, Consumer Reports came out and said that they cannot recommend the iPhone 4, because their “scientific tests” prove that the iPhone 4 has a hardware issue.  Since then, the media has taken this and run with it, along with every other blog out there.  To be honest, in the past two days I haven’t wanted to read any blogs, or watch the news with anything related to this whole antenna issue.  But, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’ve read the blogs and watched the news reports, and now I am frustrated.  Why you might ask?  Well, if people didn’t take what is spoon-fed to them, did the research for themselves, and looked for a second opinion, this would be what most are calling a “non-issue.”

Personally, I have not had an issue with the antenna that everyone is up in arms about.  Let me elaborate my point.  In strong signal areas I can hold my iPhone 4 with the “death grip” for two minutes before my bars drop, and when they do, they only drop by a few bars.  In moderate to low signal areas my iPhone 4 bars do drop off.  When this happens, I simply loosen my grip, and voilà, the bars move back up.  This has all been done without a case or a Bumper.  With this said, I have better reception and significantly less dropped calls with my iPhone 4 than I did with my iPhone 3G.  In areas where I normally would drop a call while driving, I no longer drop calls.  I have also seen in areas where I could not hold a 3G signal with my iPhone 3G, I now can with my iPhone 4.  None of my tests are scientific, nor do I claim them to be.  These are simply my observations from my experiences.

So, I wanted to find someone who knows a little more about radio antennas and the like.  I trolled the Internet and I came across a personal blog post by Bob Egan titled “Viewpoints by Bob Egan”.  Bob Egan has worked as an electromagnetic engineer in this field.  He has some insightful points on why Consumer Reports tests are not truly scientific.  Here is what he has to say on this:

“Consumer reports “RF” engineers should know better than to think they can run an engineering grade test for an issue like this in a shielded room. And certainly not one with people in it.

To even reasonably run a scientific test, the iPhone should have been sitting on a non-metallic pedestal inside an anechoic chamber. The base station simulator should have been also sitting outside the chamber and had a calibrated antenna plumbed to it from inside the chamber.

I have not seen (update: i have seen the full video since yesterday afternoon) CR’s claim directly that the finger effect reduces the iPhones sensitivity by 20db as reported elsewhere, but unless CR connected to a functional point inside the iPhone that number is fantasy. Even the way they seem to have tested the change – by varying the base station simulator levels – seems to assume the iPhone receiver and/or transmitter operate in a linear fashion (the same way) across all signal strengths – bad assumption.

Bottom line. From what I can see in the reports, Consumer Reports replicated the same uncontrolled, unscientific experiments that many of the blogging sites have done.”

This is the what I’ve been wanting to read — a second opinion.  For some people Consumer Reports is an end all.  They choose not to look at other sources, and for them that is good enough, but not for me.  That’s why I wanted another opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash Consumer Reports in any way.  I just don’t think people should take what is spoon-fed to them and run with it.

Moreover, you can say that Apple is doing the same thing, and you would be right.  First they said we’re holding the phone wrong.  Then they said that it’s a software issue with the signal bars, which will be resolved with a firmware update due out soon.  That is why I take what comes from Cupertino with a grain of salt, and I’m waiting to see what fix they will be coming out with.  Has Apple handled this whole situation very well?  No, they have not.  Is Apple trying to resolve the issue, or simply blow their customers off?  I feel they are doing the former, while others feel that they are doing the latter.  Should Apple be giving out the $29.00 Bumpers for free?  In my opinion they should.  This would go a long way for most people.  I purchased two bumpers, one for my wife’s iPhone 4, and one for mine.  Not to fix the antenna issue, but to give our iPhone 4’s a little more protection.

One last subject I want to touch on is the class action lawsuit over the antenna issue.  Let’s all be honest here. The only people that will truly benefit from this lawsuit are the lawyers.  They are the ones who will be raking in the dough, while you and I will get a gift card or some other minor compensation.  Let’s stop all this nonsense, and see what Apple is going to do.  If you’ve purchased an iPhone 4 and you are truly this unhappy with it, return it. It’s that simple.  If you haven’t bought it yet, wait.  See what happens next.  Finally, if you’re on the fence, then you probably really didn’t want one in the first place.

Photo Credit: iPhone 4 Bumper

Article Via Viewpoints by Bob Egan

I'm a husband, dad of two great kids, and I have a passion for Apple products. I got my first Mac in 2005, and I haven't looked back. I like the simplicity of the Mac, and how does the motto… Full Bio