With all the fuss over Apple’s iPhone 4 signal woes, it looks like one engineer decided to put the iPhone 4 to the test against its older brother (iPhone 3GS) as well as its nemesis (HTC Nexus One).
While the article did admit that iPhone 4’s antenna was superior to its rivals untouched, it looks like “man’s most magnificent creation” is easily sullied by human hands.
It’s difficult to be exact about the data, since signal is very sensitive to direction, ambient conditions, and cell breathing. To generate these numbers, I measured at least 6 times and took the average. The results are pretty self explanatory. Inside a case, the iPhone 4 performs slightly better than the Nexus One. However, attenuation gets measurably worse depending how you hold the phone. Squeezing it really tightly, you can drop as much as 24 dB. Holding it naturally, I measured an average of 20 dB.
The drop in signal from cupping the device with a case on is purely a function of us being “ugly bags of mostly water.” A material which happens to be pretty good at attenuating RF – thus increasing path loss between the handset and cellular base station. There’s nothing Apple nor anyone else can do to get around physics, plain and simple. It’s something which demonstrably affects every phone’s cellular reception. (AnandTech)
Later on in the article AnandTech verifies Apple’s claim that iPhone 4 actually out performed the 3GS when a simple bumper was applied to the device, which would allow iLovers to trek into previous dead zones and still maintain a call.
However it seems that without the bumper assistance, the iPhone 4 performs worse than its predecessor, and even fails when compared against Google’s Nexus One (aka the gPhone).
Although this news will probably do nothing to decrease the demand of iPhone 4 (as most users will probably find out about the issue after they buy it), it may put a dent in Apple’s iBrand.
While this analysis will do nothing but strengthen the arguments of both sides, Apple may want to consider dropping the $29 fee and provide its users with a free bumper, lest they appear to be cold hearted towards the iFaithful.