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Verizon iPhone Also Haunted By the Death Grip 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-we-go-again dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Turns out that the Verizon iPhone 4 is also plagued with the same problem as the AT&T version, the 'Death Grip.' This isn't completely surprising since Apple has made no significant changes in the antenna design to warrant a permanent fix. As a result, the 'Death grip' causes a drop in 3G data performance as well as the Wi-Fi performance. What's strange is that the Death Grip gives inconsistent results which is why analysts don't view this as a big problem for Apple, chalking up the news as 'bloggers looking for something to write about.' Analysts also argue that Apple sold millions of AT&T iPhone 4's last year and despite the media-furor, consumers did not line up at Apple Stores demanding refunds."
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Verizon iPhone Also Haunted By the Death Grip

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  • by AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) <afacini@gmaiYEATSl.com minus poet> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @05:54PM (#35155094)
    "This isn't completely surprising since Apple has made no significant changes in the antenna design to warrant a permanent fix."
    You know, there's a saying about doing the same thing over and expecting a different result...
    • by peragrin (659227)

      The only ones who were expecting different results were the bloggers who just happen to be people you can type really really loudly on the internwebs.

      For most people it didn't matter as they were covered or had decent coverage by AT&T. Personally I find it more telling that Verizon has plans to throttle heavy user before launch. While I don't expect a big difference in service it just might happen in a few markets.

      • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @09:32PM (#35157486) Journal

        For most people it didn't matter as they were covered or had decent coverage by AT&T.

        My workplace bought iPhone 4's for everyone who needed to be on call. When I first got mine, I tried to duplicate the issue and wasn't able to. Neither were my co-workers. Completely covering the phone antenna with my hands may have resulted in a one bar drop. We have O.K. AT&T coverage, but not great. This was much ado about nothing.

        • by dudpixel (1429789)

          you do realize they updated the way the phone calculates the number of bars displayed. Many experts noted that its difficult to actually measure the phone's actual reception, since its impossible to know if the phone is lying to you or not.

          Try it whilst on a call in an area where reception isn't strong...if the call drops, then the issue remains.

          It applies to most phones, but the iphone 4 seems to be affected more easily, due to the antenna placement.

          What people found, was not that antennagate didn't exist

        • by arivanov (12034)

          It is not a coverage test, it is not an antenna test. It is a "how dry is your skin" test.

          In any case, it is not the first phone to use big bits of the casing as an antenna. A lot of Nokia E series use the battery cover as an antenna so if your hands are wet you can see similar drops as well.

          • by oji-sama (1151023)

            A lot of Nokia E series use the battery cover as an antenna

            Really? Can you give an example? (I'm honestly surprised)

        • by Xest (935314)

          Yet my two colleagues with iPhone 4s can replicate it perfectly suffering complete signal loss, despite having line of site and being easily within visible range of the closest cell tower, and this is in the UK, where the cell phone networks are much better than in the US.

          Both have had to use bumpers on their phones to be able to use them as and when they want.

          That's the problem with anecdotes, they don't represent everyone's experience, and are hence stupid to jump to generalised conclusions from.

    • by jdpars (1480913) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @05:59PM (#35155150)
      The CDMA iPhone actually does have an antenna change, which most of these "OMG VERIZON DEATH GRIP IPHONE" hacks are ignoring. There are two antennas (as is standard in CDMA), one on each side of the phone. To block most of these (and actually drop a call) you have to squeeze pretty hard (and possibly put the phone in a lead box). Getting the bars to decrease and getting a call to end are two entirely different things.
      • by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:16PM (#35155326)

        Two antennas aren't going to solve the death grip, and CDMA antennas are not much different than 3G/GSM antennas. (And the iPhone always had two antenna halves, one on either side). Antenna length is almost always dictated by frequency in use, and the CDMA bands are pretty close to the 3G bands such that the same antennas can be used for both.

        Death grip was caused by human fingers bridging a gap between the 3G antenna and the WIFI antenna, and it could happen with a single finger touching the gap. No actual "Grip" required. The problem was solved with free bumpers, and users learning to avoid touching the gap. See this wired article: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/07/iphone-its-the-antenna-stupid/ [wired.com]

        Apple pushed the myth of the death grip, to try to divert attention from their design flaw. It was never about the grip. It was only about bridging that gap. The free bumpers eliminated the problem.

        If the Verizon phones lack that gap, then any signal decrease caused by holding it is the same as you see on any other cell phone but don't confuse that the antennagate on the original iphone 4.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          I thought all this was very well known up front. I read articles months ago about how they did not address the "death grip" issue at all. And according to what I read, the ONLY changes made were a CDMA specific antenna and corresponding chipset/drivers. Assuming that's true, how could anyone possibly be surprised that the same issue persists. After all, I've not read anything which supports Apple even attempted to remediate the issue.

          Its basically the same 'ol device with the same 'ol flaws.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            It would be commercial suicide to fix the death grip problem because it would mean admitting that it exists. Apple's official line is that there is no problem, but as a gesture of goodwill they gave everyone a free rubber bumper anyway.

            If a 4.1 version came out with a fix all existing customers would have a legitimate argument for getting a free upgrade. Not sure about the US but in the UK design defects have to be put right for the typical lifetime of the product, which for a phone is 5 or 6 years.

        • Bridging the gap with your finger partially detunes the antenna; since your skin is not a perfect conductor, the charge carriers moving in the antenna effectively go through a "tunnelling" effect at the gap. This is probablistic in nature, meaning that a proportion of such carriers will continue to behave as though the antenna was at its normal length. What you would see by analysing the received frequencies is that the normal frequencies would be diminished but not obliterated when the gap is bridged. I

        • The problem was solved with free bumpers, and users learning to avoid touching the gap. See this wired article: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/07/iphone-its-the-antenna-stupid/ [wired.com] [wired.com]

          I still don't understand why this problem hasn't been fixed by now. The mere fact that users need to learn to avoid this "gap" in order to get proper functionality out of their phone is kind of insane.

        • Correct, the "death grip" everyone is confused with is present on nearly all handsets... It's only the short-circuit due to the external antennas on the original iPhone4 that was new.

          And the actual deathgrip issue (without the short circuit) is actually quite mild on the iPhone 4, as far as I can tell. The only people doing better in that department are Motorola (couldn't get my old Milestone to drop further than 2dB, no matter how I held it), while HTC are more or less the worst offenders (My Desire's sign

      • I've seen video of most other major smart phone with a similar "death grip". For example, this video [youtube.com] shows a Blackberry Bold with a significant signal loss when held a certain way. Why the hysterics over the iPhone? It feels as if Slashdot is being gamed in a PR campaign.

        • by Stevecrox (962208)
          Thanks for buying into Apples marketing, yes you are correct al phones will drop signal when you block most of it in a "Death Grip". You don't need to actually hold an iPhone 4 to cause this problem, because Apple placed the wifi and phone antenna's on the outside you can bridge them with your little finger. Bridging antennas causes them to detune and your signal quality to drop.

          The reason for the hate? First I like many other slashdotters have been annoyed to death by iDevice owners telling me how wonde
      • by mirix (1649853)

        (and possibly put the phone in a lead box).

        Lead being good at shielding RF is a common misconception it seems. Plain steel is far, far better, and mu-metal [wikipedia.org] and similar compounds are really the way to go.

        Now, if the iPhone receives gamma rays, it would be a different situation.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        The CDMA iPhone actually does have an antenna change

        But it's still on the outside, which is what the problem was with the GSM antenna. So it uses a different frequency and has a different electrical length, that's still going to be interfered with if you introduce a new conductor to the antenna.

        So back to what the OP said, why would you expect a different result.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by node 3 (115640)

      It's not news because it's how radios work. All phones have a "death grip" that drops the signal. The Verizon iPhone's grip is different from AT&T's, because the antennas are different.

      • All phones have a "death grip" that drops the signal.

        Except that that's total crap and has been gone over on slashdot so often that I refuse to even give you a link. The recap is; all phones can have the signal physically blocked by putting bits of your body between the antenna and the signal source. This causes some signal loss, but is difficult to notice under normal circumstances. The iPhone has an external non-insulated antenna which, when you touch it, get's detuned. This causes a larger signal strength drop than in almost any circumstance on a norma

      • by mini me (132455)

        I distinctly remember having to hold my iPhone 3G in a way that did not cover the bottom portion of the phone when I first purchased it. My carrier has done some network upgrades since and it is no longer a problem, but why weren't people freaking out about "antennagate" way back then?

      • You don't need to touch an antenna to attenuate it's signal, it's just much worse when you do, which is why this touchable-antenna-on-the-outside-of-the-phone is just plain bad engineering.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          You don't need to touch an antenna to attenuate it's signal, it's just much worse when you do, which is why this touchable-antenna-on-the-outside-of-the-phone is just plain bad engineering.

          But this doesn't happen on the Verizon iPhone (and doesn't seem to plaque people on non-AT&T GSM iPhone 4's either).

          The iPhone 4's antenna starts out with a better signal, due to what you call "bad engineering". The normal "death grip" signal loss is still better *except* when you touch it at one particular point, in which case it drops worse (and may even drop the call, depending on your initial signal quality).

          The Verizon iPhone 4 has the exact same type of external antenna, but not the exact same typ

      • by Stevecrox (962208)
        The iPhone 4 doesn't just have a death grip issue, your right if you hold 99% of phones in a death grip they will lose signal. However Apple placed the wifi and phone antenna's on the outside. If you touch the gap between the antenna's with your little finger and bridge the antenna's the iPhone 4 will start losing signal strength. You don't actually need to be even holding the phone to repeat the problem.
    • by beelsebob (529313)

      You know, there's a saying about doing the same thing over and expecting a different result...

      The issue being that the thing you quoted is a flat out lie. The GSM iPhone 4 has one antenna up it's right hand side for GSM, if you bridge it with the base of the phone, it shorts out and gets shit reception. The CDMA one has two antennas, up both sides of the device. The key here is that they've replicated the death grip, not the touch of death – because apple fixed the touch of death. The death grip by comparison is something that all phones suffer from... The iPhone 4 did, the 3GS did, the 3G

  • With a free rubber bumper that prevents the finger from touching the metal antenna.

  • Perhaps they were so used to lousy data service and dropped calls that they didn't notice the death grip? Apple giving away a bunch of phone protectors probably also helped.
  • Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:03PM (#35155206) Homepage Journal

    That's funny, because I was reading the exact opposite today:

    "This isn't just a case where Apple took a CDMA chip and slapped it into the iPhone and called it Verizon. They actually redesigned the entire logic board, including the electromagnetic shields," iFixit's M.J. explains in a video for the repair site. "Apple's RF engineering team did a great job at restructuring the antenna, so hopefully we don't have the same death-grip problem that saddled its AT&T brother."

    http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Mobile-and-Wireless/Verizon-iPhone-4-May-Offer-Hints-at-iPhone-5-iFixit-815631/ [eweek.com]

    • by blair1q (305137)

      I've seen two other articles saying the "you're holding it wrong" problem had been fixed in the Verizon phones. I thought the /. headline was just another submission mistake. Guess not...

  • er... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wrexs0ul (515885) <mmeier@rackninTEAe.com minus caffeine> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:05PM (#35155234) Homepage

    "despite the media-furor, consumers did not line up at Apple Stores demanding refunds"

    Of course not. The tech savvy waited for their free case, and the knuckle-dragging hipsters bought a fashionable iGlove.

    How exactly are Analysts still getting paid to analyze this?

    -Matt

    • I work at a place that sells a lot of iPhones and when the antenna thing happened we didn't even see one iPhone get returned. Not one, for any reason. So I'm sure from Apple's perspective there's no reason to change something that sells well with zero returns.
  • by rwa2 (4391) *

    Ha, I have something of the opposite problem with my HTC Android phone. At work (in the secret underground bunker), it doesn't get a signal anywhere at all. Unless it's sitting in my pocket under my desk, then it somehow manages to barely hold onto an EDGE link.

    Anyway, a half decent solution to either issue is a bluetooth headset, which I'm sure the iPhone crowd could afford ;-P

    • Ha, I have something of the opposite problem with my HTC Android phone. At work (in the secret underground bunker), it doesn't get a signal anywhere at all. Unless it's sitting in my pocket under my desk, then it somehow manages to barely hold onto an EDGE link.;-P

      Fool. That's because the cheap Chinese power strip on the floor is really a secret WIFI point with a VPN tunnel to some rice swilling hackers north of Bejing. We told you all to get American Made power strips. Now it's too late.

      Oh, and the Reality Distortion Field prevents this stuff from happening. Just so you'll know next time to get an iPhone.

    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      Well that's obvious! It's using the "antenna" next to your pocket to boost the signal!

  • Apple users... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:11PM (#35155286) Journal

    ...are some of the most loyal on the planet. My experience is that a lot of them buy the device to be trendy and not for it's functionality. In the same way that fashion brands for shoes, perfumes or clothing may not be functionally the best but are still sold because people have bought into the brand. So like other fashion victims Apple users when confronted will often insist the device just works flawlessly and that they've never had a problem even if it doesn't. A lot of them don't use any advanced functionality, so they're oblivious to restrictions.

    Apple's genius is in the marketing, like many of the big brands. It's easy to argue that McDonalds don't make the best burgers (and aren't as cheap as they once were!), Nike don't make the best shoes etc. yet they are still worth a mint and their product still sells in large numbers. It's not about phone engineering. It's about social engineering.

    Watch this get modded as troll/flamebait. It's not.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      It's easy to argue that McDonalds don't make the best burgers

      I find this to be an odd analogy... McDonalds goes for the low end and Apple goes for the high end. And Nike has a product spread from the relative cheap to the fairly high end (for athletic shoes), while Apple has no such spread.

      You'd have to look at a company that does not measure success with market share. To use a car analogy, they are more like BMW. High end with no low-end offerings, limited selection, and content to occupy only that space.

      The iPhone is for people who are willing to drop a couple hun

      • by rrossman2 (844318)

        But BMW wouldn't be a good example either. They do offer "lower end" $30,000), such as the 1-Series.

        It would be more like Aston Martin, Bentley, Maserati, Crown (a Japanese luxury division of Toyota), etc.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Yeah, but wouldn't I loose all of my Slashdot karma if I came up with the perfect car analogy? :)

    • Re:Apple users... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hercubus (755805) <hercubus@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:46PM (#35155604) Homepage

      Apple users are some of the most loyal on the planet...
      ... Apple users ... insist the device just works flawlessly and that they've never had a problem.

      As a loyal Apple customer enjoying my flawless devices, this is what I got out of your post.
      Why would anyone mod you troll?

      • by juasko (1720212)

        Oh at slashdot there are many trolls that are moderators. If you give a balanced and neutral comment, you most probably will be down modded. If you actually troll there is a greater change that you get modded as funny instead of a troll. But that depends on which side you troll. If you happen to troll for the most popular opinion, your mods will race in points. While if you happen to be balanced and not taking part for any brand etc, you'll be modded troll.

        So if you want good scores pick your brand by popul

    • by rrossman2 (844318)

      I agree with this to an extent. Just like people like to exclaim how OS X is better than windows hands down.. it does have its advantages, but it also has its downsides. In Windows, when I hit the damn maximize button, the window MAXIMIZES; in OS X, when you hit the green + button, the window "Maximizes" to a size Apple thinks it "large enough"...

      I know it's something minor, but MAN does that annoy the crap out of me lol

      • Re:Apple users... (Score:4, Informative)

        by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @07:58PM (#35156390)

        When you hit the green button, the window doesn't follow the Microsoft Windows paradigm. Maximised windows have never been a part of OS X (or OS 9) - that's just people expecting them to do exactly what Windows does, but why should it?

        You can set two sizes with the green button, and it will toggle between them. "Apple" doesn't decide how big you want that window - the user does. It will remember the size you chose.

        OS X Lion is introducing full screen apps for the first time on OS X, where the entire UI changes (ie, Dock goes away, top menu bar goes away) so it the app that is full screen has full focus. I expect then the green button will do that (perhaps as a toggle - small, large, fullscreen).

        I will say that OS X is better than Windows, hands down. That doesn't mean it can't also have flaws (hello, Finder, hello dotfile littering on non-Mac filesystems, hello eternal loop of drive-spin-up-spin-down if you insert an unreadable DVD, among other things). It's still way better than Windows though (although from what I have seen of Win 7, it is looking good - where was that when Vista was being pried out of Ballmer's ass with a chair leg?).

      • Personally, I find Mac OS to be hands down worse than Windows (and, presumably, Linux, but I haven't used it). The way they handle their menu bars is a giant fucking UI fail, and I hate using Mac OS because of it.
    • My New Verizon iPhone4 is my first Apple product other than an iPod. I don't upgrade phones until my contract is up, so I couldn't really get a smartphone until about 4 months ago. I could have gotten an Android then, but waited for the iPhone so I could re-use all my music and other stuff in iTunes. No-one has ever really convinced me that an Android or other phone is better than an iPhone, nor do I think the iPhone is better than an Android. It just made more sense to me for convenience sake. My point
    • Re:Apple users... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RogerWilco (99615) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @08:36PM (#35156890) Homepage Journal

      It's not just branding, Apple in general makes stuff of very high quality and with a lot of effort in usability design. I've used many computers, laptops, mp3 players and mobile phones over the years. I bought and iPod in 2005, a Macbook Pro in 2007 and an iPhone in 2009. Before that my exposure to Apple had been limited to a couple of times at an aunt who owned one for DTP work. I have used nearly all flavours of Windows and Linux, over 50 different mobile phones (job related), over a dozen PDAs (Palm, WinCE PocketPC, WinMob). Only some stuff from IBM (now Lenovo) comes close in build quality.

      I'm not saying it never breaks or doesn't have design flaws sometimes, but in general it's a joy to use Apple products. The interfaces are very intuitive, consistent and a real effort has been made to minimize the effort you have to do to get to your goal. Sometimes at the expense of choice and features. The best example is still that when the iMac came out, it had just USB and Firewire, no Serial or Parallel ports, PS/2 or floppy drive. At the time they were laughed at, peripherals would never use USB and the floppy was essential. I think time proved that they were right.

      Since I started buying Apple, my "gadget hunger" has greatly diminished. The only thing I am considering is an iPad and I since bought a NAS for backup purposes. None of the other things I used to look at hold any interest to me any more, it just doesn't compete. The Apple stuff might be a bit on the expensive side, but because it has high end specs when new, they last very long, especially because Apple keeps providing software updates. My 4 year old Macbook is still fine, it's only got updated to OSX 10.6 from 10.4 for 29 euros. All the updates to my iPhone 3GS have been free. Between those two devices there isn't a single thing that I can't do, but want to do.

      I know that I'm sounding a bit like a fanboy, and maybe I am, but that's especially because I have used so many other devices from other manufacturers and none have given me as few reasons to want to throw it out the window as the Apple products I have.

      • by syousef (465911)

        It's not just branding, Apple in general makes stuff of very high quality and with a lot of effort in usability design.

        I have used 3 recent Apple products - 2 iPods (personal, mine and my wife's) and an eMac (work - very light use - occassional web browser compatibility testing). They have been JUNK. The iPod had a faulty click wheel from day 1 and return policies here in Australia (subsequently changed after consumer watchdog pressure) meant if I sent it in I could be without it for months. My wife's iPod has been okay but a "Photo" iPod shouldn't have such a delicate scratchable screen. The emac died within 2-3 weeks of p

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        Only some stuff from IBM (now Lenovo) comes close in build quality.

        Are you considering only 2-3 brands while contrasting quality with Apple?

        Nobody can tell me that with hundreds if not thousands of companies out there, not even one of them comes close to Apple. It's like when someone has a problem with their bargain-basement $500 HP, and the first thing that happens is that an Apple guy swoops in and recommends getting a Macbook that starts at $1,000. Gee, I don't suppose there's a few hundred other PC brands from which to choose.

        Statistically speaking alone, I'd say it

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:21PM (#35155362)
    - Blast it Spock, this phone keeps cutting out! It's the fool antenna. The reception dies out when I grip it like this.
    - Dr. McCoy, the problem you are describing has never been scientifically replicated, despite numerous attempts to do so. The so-called "death grip" problem with the iPhone is merely a rumor, bordering on superstition, based on conjecture from overzealous bloggers, referencing anecdotal evidence, who know nothing at all about antenna design, much less the basic principles of electromagnetism.
    - Well your reliance on logic and the scientific method doesn't help explain why my calls keep getting dropped.
    - I own an iPhone myself and have never experienced any such problems.
    - Huh. Must be those pointy ears of yours, give you better reception.
    - (mutters) Case. In. Point.

    .
    • by RudeIota (1131331)
      Brilliant. It fits so perfectly into this discussion. If only I had mod points...
    • by Rennt (582550)

      Dr. McCoy, the problem you are describing has been measured in controlled lab conditions. Engineers confirmed that bridging the two antennas with a single finger results in a signal drop of around 20 decibels.

      Fixed that for you [wired.com]

  • This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by joeyblades (785896) on Wednesday February 09, 2011 @06:44PM (#35155584)

    My Samsung Mythic is also 'haunted' by a death grip...

    My Blackberry Pearl (before that) - 'haunted' by a death grip...

    Ironically... daughter's iPhone 4 - no death grip...

    Somewhere, though already long since dead, a horse is continuously beaten... but the rest of the world moves on...

    • by mjwx (966435)
      My Motorola Milestone - no death grip.

      My mates Samsung Galaxy S - no death grip.

      My sisters Iphone 4 - drops calls all the time and that is very uncommon for phones in Australia. Just hold it and watch the bars drop away, even after the SW update that was meant to hide it.

      My Motorola milestone has OK reception at my work and Bad reception at my house (but still works, it's about -85 to -95 dBm). An Iphone 4 has no reception at either place using Australia's supposedly "superior" Telstra network.

      M
      • My anecdotal evidence rips your anecdotal evidence to shreds.

        Thanks for that. You made me smile...

  • I read the headline and thread summary to this story and the next thing I know I wake up with keycap impressions on my forehead and a puddle of drool on my wrist rest.

    This story is a powerful sedative! I'm bookmarking this baby!

  • Make it feel stylish and suckers will buy any crap you shovel at them!

  • I bought a new phone last November. At first, when my old contract was winding down, I was looking forward to getting an iphone. But after all the bad press, I decided to go with an android.

    Apple may have sold millions of iPhone 4s. But, maybe, Apple could have sold millions more?

  • Who in the hell uses a iphone to make phone calls anyhow? I have been carrying mine for nearly three years and have enjoyed every minute of it. If it where not for the fact that I need a older device to test my software on I would have gladly upgraded already. I have never had any call problems and I would not hesitate for a single second to buy the new one.

  • OMG nerf Death Grip it's OP!!!1!11

    QQ


    (Sorry folks, had to be done. As you were.)
  • I still have /. on my RSS feeds because sometimes they link to some interesting scientific & engineering subjects. Once in a while, like today, I dive into the comments just to see how things are coming along (when extremely bored I've even left a comment). But it's still the same. Utterly childish, like 4th grade boys on the playground duking it out over who has the loudest mouth. Step back and look it over. See yourself?

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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