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Print 79 comment(s) - last by sweetspot.. on Jul 21 at 1:32 PM


Note the complete lack of insulation on the stainless steel antenna/frame. An engineer warned top executives at Apple a year ago, that the design was doomed to make the phone a lemon.  (Source: iFixIt)

IOS 4.0.1 is now available; it now "correctly" displays signal bars on supported iPhones
Also, U.S. Senator voices outrage about Apple's handling of the iPhone antenna problems

Life is tough as an engineer.  Last year Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert at Apple, reportedly warned the company's top management, including CEO Steven P. Jobs, that the current production plan was badly flawed.  Lacking any insulation, he recognized from experience that the antenna would likely be in for some serious issues.

Bloomberg received the information from a source close to Caballero.  Caballero, who still works at Apple has declined comment.  Apple also declined comment.

It appears that Apple blatantly disregarded the call for insulating its antenna over fear that it would impact the phone's size or weight.  The new antenna design, which wraps around the phone's frame was designed to minimize weight and size.

Apple also reportedly received a warning from a carrier partner sources say (likely AT&T) about problems they were having during early testing.  Again Apple appears to have blatantly disregarded yet another warning placed in front of it.

Despite selling a record 1.7 million iPhones at launch, Apple has since been overrun with angry customers complaining their new Apple phones are actually lemons.  Apple has remained unsympathetic, for the most part, which many say has damaged its brand image.  The company did announce that it will hold a special press conference on Friday to address the issues.  Some are predicting that Apple may launch a recall, which could cost the company $1B USD or more.

In related news U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D- NY) wrote an open letter to Apple CEO Jobs blasting his company's handling of the signal issues.  The topic is a particular sore spot in New York; New York City has, according to Apple employees suffered from 30 percent iPhone dropped call rates.

In the letter Sen. Schumer calls Apple's upcoming cosmetic patch to how many bars are drawn to be "insufficient".  He also suggests that Apple's demand that customers buy cases to fix the issue is inappropriate.  He writes, "The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device.  To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge."

In his letter he cites the Consumer Reports' decision to drop its endorsement of the iPhone.  Clearly a jilted Apple fan, Sen. Schumer concludes, "I look forward to Apple's swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans."

Updated 7/15/2010 @ 2:21 pm

Apple has just rolled out iOS 4.0.1 which is supposed to correct the way signals bars are displayed on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4.



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By walk2k on 7/15/2010 7:23:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'm no expert but... wouldn't putting insolation over the antenna give you LESS signal? I mean, an antenna is designed to pick up signals from the outside... the last thing you want is to shield it from that.


By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 7/16/2010 7:26:43 AM , Rating: 1
Not sure why you got voted down for asking a simple question. The bumper shields the metal lining of the case from your human self, which attenuates the signal when you touch it. The signal will pass through the medium of the bumber with no problems (it is a radio signal, not an electric current), and shields the antenna from your human self.


By otispunkmeyer on 7/18/2010 1:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
yeah it will, the 3GS has weaker signal than the 4 because all its gubbins are inside a plastic shell, with metallics bits in there as well. i know its not all conductive but it still attenuates a bit.

the problem with the iphone 4 is while the antenna is now on the outside for greater signal strength, when you bridge that gap with your hands you can through the tuning of the antenna off. as your skin is conductive, you change the length of the antenna and bam, it can go out of tune and your signal is attenuated.

oddly i think anandtech noted that while holding it reduced the 3G signal, it actually improved the WiFi signal. RF works in odd ways sometimes.


By otispunkmeyer on 7/18/2010 1:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
yeah it will, the 3GS has weaker signal than the 4 because all its gubbins are inside a plastic shell, with metallics bits in there as well. i know its not all conductive but it still attenuates a bit.

the problem with the iphone 4 is while the antenna is now on the outside for greater signal strength, when you bridge that gap with your hands you can through the tuning of the antenna off. as your skin is conductive, you change the length of the antenna and bam, it can go out of tune and your signal is attenuated.

oddly i think anandtech noted that while holding it reduced the 3G signal, it actually improved the WiFi signal. RF works in odd ways sometimes.


By ghost03 on 7/19/2010 10:47:31 AM , Rating: 2
If we were talking about current flow in a conductor, yes, insulation would impede it. Instead, we're talking about electromagnetic waves, which pass through such material quite nearly as though it weren't there.

An example which we can all understand is light (which is a high frequency electromagnetic wave). Light passes through glass quite readily, just as lower frequency (800 MHz cell phone) passes through rubber and plastic.

In reply to a later post, while touching the antenna with your finger attenuates the signal by some small amount, that is not the source of iPhone 4's trouble. The issue is that your finger (which is a mediocre conductor) shorts the two antennas (Wifi, 2.4 GHz and Cell Phone, 800-900 MHz) together by some margin. This effectively makes the antenna longer, and thus for a lower, sub-optimal frequency band.


By ghost03 on 7/19/2010 10:56:52 AM , Rating: 2
Opps, otis beat me to the iPhone 4 antenna issues.

I'm not sure I agree with your reasoning that the shell is responsible for inferior 3gs performance, however. The shell is very thin and only occupies a small fraction of the antenna's near field. Certainly some very small attenuation would be present, but likely not enough to account for the [optimal] difference in signal performance between the two phones.

The internal antenna is a planar multi path antenna, designed to cover lots of different frequencies in very little space. It's simply inferior to bigger, dedicated antennas.


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