German consumer watchdog confirms iPhone 4 death grip
First, there were scattered reports across the internet that the iPhone 4 loses signal when held in a certain way. Then Apple said that the culprit was just a bad formula for calculating the number of bars of signal the phone shows. Then Consumer Reports stepped in and confirmed that there is a hardware issue. Apple decided to say that all the phones on the market are affected by similar problems, and gave all its customers a free case that (literally) covers the problem.
And now, Stiftung Warentest, the German equivalent and partner of Consumer Reports, decided to test the iPhone 4’s infamous death grip for themselves.
And their findings are not at all surprising.
The iPhone may lose up to 90% of the signal when the antennas are touched. Depending on how strong the signal is to begin with, this may very well result in dropped calls or interrupted data connections.
Other phones only lose up to 25% of their signal, which means that in almost all cases, dropped calls do not occur. This is in great contrast to what Apple has been desperately trying to prove ever since their famous surprise press conference.
Apple say that all phones are affected by the death grip, but they seem to forget the little (but very important) detail that no other phone allows its owner to come in direct contact with the antennas. With other phones, what you touch is the plastic casing of the antennas. With the iPhone’s much touted (upon its launch) design, the antennas themselves are exposed.
This is probably the single most important cause for the differences in lost signal levels between the iPhone 4 and any other tested phone.
And Stiftung Warentest have acknowledged it.
They also mention that Apple is giving away free bumpers and do indicate that a case does, in large part, solve the death grip woes.
Also, like Consumer Reports, they suggest duct tape as a cure if you haven’t got a bumper yet or for some reason don’t intend to get one.
All in all, I think this subject should be closed by now. It’s pretty clear that there is an actual problem. There are easy fixes for it to go away. There’s also, quite clearly, no intention on Apple’s side to change the hardware design any time soon, so until they do, bumpers or duct tape it is.