Feeds

back to article Boffins authenticate Apple 'Antennagate'

More evidence has surfaced that Apple's beleaguered Judas Phone does, indeed, have serious reception challenges — and today's facts and figures come from a sophisticated source. "Tests ... have indicated that Apple's iPhone4 does indeed suffer from connectivity problems compared to other smartphones," begins a report by the PA …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Between the 3GS and the 4

You get:

- At least 30% faster CPU, perhaps more

- Double the RAM

- Display with four times the pixels, better light, better viewing angle

- Much improved back camera with LED flash and added front camera

- Marginally improved battery life, about 10-20%

- WiFi supports 802.11n

- additional mic for noise canceling

- added gyroscope for more responsive tilt control

- slightly smaller dimensions, 25% thinner

On the down side:

- If you don't use a case, your reception may suffer

Up to you to decide whether all that's worth paying to upgrade or not. Personally, as nice as it all sounds, I'm going to hold out for next year.

3
0

The Calculus...

As others have posted, the 4G is a much better phone, overall, than the 3G/GS. It, er, umm, just might not get as good a signal if you hold it a certain way...

My advice is to look at Tescos (in the UK) or other place that is offering it on a twelve month contract, so that you have the option of selling it and getting the next (fixed) model when it is released. The only down side to this is that Tesco is actually on O2's network, which is not the best for mobile data usage in the UK. It's not unusable, but not as good as Voda or Orange.

2
0
Happy

3GS to 4

I had a 16GB 3G so I was getting pretty desperate to upgrade when the 4 came out, and it is a big improvement over the 3G in many ways. I've now got a video camera, a better stills camera, a compass (for orienting maps), 32GB storage and a faster CPU, which were pretty much all the things I wanted to see added/improved over my old phone.

As you might have noticed, all of those features were also on the 3GS, and while the 4 does have a slightly faster CPU, better camera and better screen than the 3GS, I'm not sure I would say they justify the upgrade. If you can upgrade for free, sure go for it. But I would suggest playing around with a 4 and seeing if the improved display and camera are enough to make you want to pay for an upgrade. My brother has a 3GS and we did a little unofficial benchmark of the CPUs by seeing which one would load the BBC's News site fastest and it was almost a dead heat, so I wouldn't say the extra CPU power is that important.

There's also the antenna thing to consider. I've had the phone since launch and it's never dropped a call for me. But since I own an iPhone many would say that means I'm an Apple fanboy who is covering up for the fact that the phone never, ever, ever works and explodes when you look at it. Like you I have no real love for OSX or the Mac range in general, but I do really like the iPhone, so you'll have to decide for yourself how impartial to consider my opinion. :)

1
0
Silver badge

Correction

'As others have posted, the 4G is a much better phone, overall, than the 3G/GS. It, er, umm, just might not get as good a signal if you hold it a certain way...'

Actually it's a crap phone but a fantastic iPod.

The fanbois (and I think that's the first time I've ever used that phrase), are really getting annoying now. Following Steve's almost apology they've moved on from 'there is no problem' to 'well there might be a problem if you don't have a bumper.'

The closest comparison I can think of is if you bought a sports car but found it was undriveable unless you covered up its beautiful body with that of a Ford Escort. That's where the fanbois (twice!) are right now. Jonathan Ive's designs don't mean squat.

1
1
Bronze badge

re: Between tthe 3GS and the 4

On the down side:

- It can't tell that you've got the phone to your ear. Your ear ends up droping calls and dialling other people at random.

1
1
Alert

Complete test

Its interesting having the iPhone fail(4) tested against other phones.

Personally I would have been more interested if they had also included a iPhone 3GS in the test sample. That would have given a fair evaluation. When ever I test a bug in a web site I always test the previous version to see if the bug is actual better or worse than the original.

0
1
Flame

Um, Mr. Jobs?

The phrase "... Pants on fire!" comes to mind.

2
1
g e
Silver badge

You Sir are a shill !

He's 'Honest Steve'

Therefore he never, ever, ever lies.

And he's kind to cats, too, he DOES NOT drown a kitten every time someone says ANTENNAGATE

He is also working on sustainable nuclear fission to end surrefing in the third world and this (alleged) man-made global warming.

He has discovered H3 and liquid water on the moon and a new heavy element under the surface of Europa which has so much energy in it that it makes travel to the stars possible in our lifetime, he has named this element realitanium.

His cure for cancer is due for release soon and he's even found a way to make football intellectually appealing which will cause the gradual extinction of chavs.

Sincerely

Frederick An'boi

1
2
Coffee/keyboard

Heh

"He has discovered H3 and liquid water on the moon and a new heavy element under the surface of Europa which has so much energy in it that it makes travel to the stars possible in our lifetime, he has named this element realitanium."

You sure Intel didnt trademark realitanium? Just asking :)

1
1
Happy

a Windows mobile then?

well they are using a Windows mobile then from HTC, not android!! I wonder why?? I guess cause the battery would die before they conducted the tests.

1
4
Silver badge
Jobs Horns

The common link between Lemon purchasers and Jobs ...

is that the legions of purchasers and Jobs believe the same lie, or illusion, that is expressed when a religious organisation attributes an unlikely or impossible occurrence as being a 'miracle'.

When Jobs said "We haven't figured out a way around the laws of physics yet" it illustrated just how delusional he is as most other people accept the laws of physics proscribe the definitive point beyond which no human endeavour will prevail.

Next Jobs will be turning water into wine!

3
1
Coat

RE: "Next Jobs will be turning water into wine!"

That's nothing, I can turn banter into whine.

1
0
g e
Silver badge

Water into wine

My wife does that...

She's got 40 full demijohns in the shed...

*hic*

0
1
Go

Magically ...

... I can turn water into urine.

1
0

Lies, Damn Lies and Marketing

Apple _will_ admit its mistake. It will do so publicly and without condition.

Just wait for the next iPhone; the white version of the 4 I believe. Five internets says the antenna design is different and no longer susceptible to the death grip.

Then ask: If it wasn't a mistake, why did they change it?

3
0
SRS
Headmaster

Who's paying?

And who's paying PA Consultancy for this little gem? They're not known for public service broadcasting.

4
2
Thumb Down

It's free publicity.

iPhone 4 reception issues are a hot topic right now. This little video is guaranteed to get them more attention (see: free advertising) than probably anything else they've done in their history.

It's pretty tinfoil to believe that someone paid them for this. PA Consulting has more to gain from this video than Apple does to lose - and I hope you get what I mean by that statement. I'm frankly surprised nobody thought of this earlier. This is about as Business 101 as it gets.

1
0
Paris Hilton

Seconded

What's that old phrase by Brendan Behan?

"There is no such thing as bad publicity."

Think about it.

0
0
g e
Silver badge

My money

is on motorola as Honest Steve would never trust any results from their ridiculously hitech RF testing crews

0
1

Hmmm.

>>What's that old phrase by Brendan Behan?

>>"There is no such thing as bad publicity."

Whilst this may be true for celebrities, it is most certainly not true in consumer electronics.

Antenna problems or not, this uproar has uncovered a strong backlash about Apple and it's methods. Unprecedented numbers of people are wanting to see this Apple fail on this.

Vista aside, I can't remember a time when so many people are taking such utter delight in a company releasing a flawed product. If I were Jobs, I'd be more worried about that than the actual phone problem. Yes, no doubt someone will say that they are selling these by the million. That might currently be true. But to quote another well used phrase - past performance is no guarantee of future growth. Apple's arrogant handling of this has dented the brand.

I take heart in one way. This is an example where clumsy spin is failing to quell the issue. Perhaps people are finally getting wise to the bullshit methods being employed as a matter of course these days.

0
0

So what are they testing?

This seems to contradict the findings of the Anandtech testing. Perhaps it is because of what is being measured. Reading the PA Consulting report, they are measuring the maximum transmission power of the phones. Anandtech were investigating the receive sensitivity of the phones, and also how well the phones maintained connection in poor areas. Signal to noise ratios also come into play - the strength of signal received is one thing, but if you improve the reception to signal, you also improve the reception of noise. Then the ability of phones to discriminate between signal and noise becomes more important. This is changeable in software.

The Anandtech report suggested that the iPhone 4 is able to continue operating at lower signal strengths than other phones. Simply measuring the signal output of the phone does not give a real world indication how well (and where) the phone is able to operate.

When it comes down to it, the concern is whether you can make a phone call. I couldn't give two hoots what the numbers are - does it work? Or else it is just "I want the one with more deebees".

Whatever they may be. Give me the one with the amp that goes to 11.

1
1
g e
Silver badge

Surely

RF transmit power and RF sensitivity would be affected by antenna performance which is jiggered up when you bridge the gap.

I'd guess that Anandtech maybe measured sensitivity unbridged then measured how far up they had to crank their signal generator to get the same signal reading with the gap bridged?

The RF transmit is really the converse of this at a guess... measuring the phone's output unbridged then again bridged and seeing how much the rf radiation was attenuated by messing up antenna efficiency

Then again I'm not an RF expert so I dunno.

Some say God asks his advice directly, and that he can heal himself with nothing more than 3G radiation.

All we know is, he's called Honest Steve...

0
1
Gold badge

Umm - PA is set up for this

It's good marketing for the Cambridge office of PA Consulting, their technology site. Whereas the London site is full of suits, the Cambridge site has a mainly scientific population, and PA Consulting have been doing mobile phone stuff for years. A good example is that they made the only decent 3G test equipment going. In short: they know what they're doing, and are able to put hard facts behind their assertions.

The film is thus a good bit of marketing, it gets PA Consulting's name out there, and with its content I bet their marketing department is hoping it will go viral. With this exposure it almost certainly will. That they are thereby riding on the back of Apple: well, Jobs' denial that there is a problem let that opportunity more or less wide open. It just won't make them win any bids with Apple if the treatment of El Reg is anything to go by :-)

0
0
LPF
Thumb Up

@Bob Kentridge

Its a better phone with better specs, just avoid putting your finger on the black strip or it might

drop a call in a low signal area.

Buy it and enjoy the look of frustrated envy on the look of android owners as they wish they earned enough own one the plebs mwhahahaha

2
9
PDC

Envy?

Or rather those on lncomes scrimp and scrape to buy an iFail so people think they have money, style and taste.

I'll spend my £400 daily rate on a phone that works thank you.

3
2
Stop

Provided...

...you dont download any wallpapers of course.

2
0
g e
Silver badge

People don't buy iphone flaws because

... because they cost too much it's because:

I don't want people to think I am part of the demographic that DO buy them.. Same reason I don't wear Umbro shirts, why I don't want a hot hatch and I don't wear cardigans.

They're all visual symbols of particular demographics I DO NOT want to be associated with.

3
2
FAIL

@ LPF

"Its a better phone with better specs"

Not anymore it isn't, not now the true specs have been researched.

And I concur with PDC, you must be a real saddo to think it's lack of finances that stops people buying the jPhone (Judas Phone).

.

You and your fanboi friends must have very little in your lives if you're so impressed with some finger controlled flashing lights.

1
1
Thumb Down

Earn enough?

>Buy it and enjoy the look of frustrated envy on the look of android owners as they wish they earned enough own one the plebs mwhahahaha

Dunno about that - don't most people buy iPhones on some sort of credit agreement from telcos because they can't afford the actual cost of the handset?

2
0
FAIL

That's it! I'm calling SJ now!

Damn! iphone4 has lost signal AGAIN! Stevie boy, this phone is C-R-A-P!

Now, what did I do with my old Treo 650?

1
1
Silver badge

Why I will not buy...

..........an iPhone despite the fact that in many ways it is a very good piece of kit (albeit one which includes a pretty epic technical fail whatever Archpriest SJ may have to say).

1. Costs too much.

2. 2 year "Lock in".

3. External antenna.

4. I refuse to be associated with a customer group a significant number of whom behave like a bunch of screaming teenage girls at a 60's pop concert every time Apple release new kit. The company's marketing has no "cool factor" for me, just an intense cringe factor.

12
0
Silver badge

You missed out:

5. iTunes

6. Can't write software for it without buying a Mac and psying Apple to distribute your software.

For me, both of these things are important - which is why I will be getting the HTC Desire when my current contract expires. A phone which allows media files to be dragged-and-dropped onto it without any sort of DRM encumbrance, and which allows me to easily write my own code for it (although I will have to be doing so Java, which isn'y my language of choice, I suspect that before long someone will write a runtime for .NET much like MONO on Linux.)

For me, the difference between an iPhone and an Android phone is akin to the difference between a games console and a proper computer. Sure, I can plug a keyboard into my PS3 but I don't expect to be able to have complete control over the hardware. The PS3 cost a quarter as much as my desktop machine, for some pretty advanced hardware (at the time). Sony initially sold the consoles at a loss because the DRM lock-in meant that they could recoup that loss from software sales. Last time I looked, iPhones weren't cheap, so to me, the lock-in is less justified.

1
0
Go

My perspective

All I can say is it's a free market and I choose to spend my money on other things.

If Apple can convince people to spend their hard earned on new kit, then good luck to them.

I have a phone and it does more than what I need, so I'm okay with walking past the people lining the streets in the rain.

BTW - I have an iPod and it does what I want, and as long as it keeps doing it, I'll keep using it.

Have a nice day.. B-)

3
0

only another data point

I don't know how these folks did their test but it's puzzling that also just today Telstra in Australia released their evaluation that iPhone 4 is better than earlier versions. The so-called "blue tick" for superior reception in marginal areas (lots of those in Australia).

I dunno how to square these results one t'other.

Not saying anyone's dishonest but how can these results be so different ??

1
1
Thumb Down

Really?

So, a phone company says new phone is greatest thing since sliced bread, buy it, it's really really good, and you somehow don't think they have a vested interest in doing so, honesty be damned?

Come on, really?

1
1

Apples and oranges.

The results are different because they are not comparing the same two things.

All of the tests we have seen so far seem to show that iPhone 4 reception is better than that of the 3GS (excepting the external antenna issue). This is what you say Telstra are claiming. What PA are saying is that, even with the improvement and without the death-grip, the iPhone 4's reception is marginally *worse* than two equivalent phones from other manufacturers.

Therefore what Telstra and PA claim are both right - it is just that PA are giving you a fuller picture. Oh, and PA are not trying to sell you a phone, either.

It would have been nice for you to have provided a link to the relevant page on Telstra's site - I think you are referring to http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/phones/iphone/index.html. If you notice, they say:

"Testing by Telstra has shown that use of some rubberised bumpers or cases with the iPhone 4 can improve its hand held performance to the equivalent of a Telstra "Blue Tick" rated device. "

i.e. Telstra are admitting there is a problem, and it only receives a blue tick *with* the use of a bumper.

3
0

The results are not different

Telstra compares iPhone 4 (unheld) to previous generation iPhones and says that it is an improvement.

Another test compares iPhone 4 to competing phones from other manufacturers and shows that it is not as good - and unusable when held in a certain way.

This just demonstrates that iPhones have never held the crown for best antenna performance.

That fact has then been covered up (intentionally or by mistake) by the rather misleading way Apple has been representing antenna reception up to now.

Another point that is often missed is that the antenna bars on any phone will only show downlink connection strength (how strongly is the signal from the antenna tower received by the phone) - not uplink (how good is the phone at getting it's signal to the antenna tower).

Since uplink and downlink are in different frequency bands, it is entirely possible to have the antenna(s) performing well in downlink but not working at all in uplink (detuned) or vice versa.

The phone connection requires both to work, so if either one fails, then the connection fails.

What is reported here is Uplink performance (but maybe not across all possible bands), so this has no real relation to the signal bars shown issue, but is just as damaging for the iPhone 4 performance

2
1

geezer time

Bob - 7.5.3 was something like TWENTY YEARS AGO. Sorry for yelling but I figured you might be deaf ^h^h^h^hhearing impaired.

Yup - I worked on that too and many more besides. Heh - it was where I really learned how to do kernel debugging :)

As you have discovered, Apple has improved since then (thank goodness).

I can't comment on the 3 -> 4 transition as I have iPhone 4 only and have been happy with it

1
1
Bronze badge

he he he

iPhone = Left 4 Dead pipebomb for morons :D

2
1
Flame

PA Consultancy is now a charity

I'm so glad that no one paid for the time in the test chambers, or paid for the use of their technicians. They just had a spare few hours or days to play with and thought "why not?"

And as usual all the sheeple accept without question what is presented to them, both by Apple and PA consultancy. Whatever you do, DO NOT THINK FOR YOURSELF.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Everyone knows Antennagate is real

Everyone except the poor sods who actually bought an iPhone and now have to engage in doublethink to avoid feeling stupid that their £400 phone doesn't work and is a laughing stock.

1
1
WTF?

So what you're saying is...

... everyone knows Antennagate is real, apart from the millions who have iPhone 4s and are using them happily day in day out with no problems? Actually that sounds about right.

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Bet later batches of iPhone 4 are or will be modded.

All Apple had to do was add a thin, clear insulating coating (e.g. laquer, plastic, or elastomer) over the problem areas to patch the issue, this should not have cost much, if done in a factory, and may explain why not all iPhone 4's have this problem.

The annoyance for Apple is lots of people reported/confirmed the antenna attenuation issue so they had to spend money (out of their excessive profits) giving away "bumpers", even for any patched phones.

1
0
Stop

Physics check

Have you tested the antenna with a thin insulating coating? Are you a qualified antenna engineer? Clearly (no pun intended) not, as you're confusing resistance with impedance.

Thin insulating coatings on antennae do not affect their performance in any meaningful way, despite what the snake-oil tape merchants claim. Impedance varies inversely with frequency, and drops to near zero over a thin insulating layer at radio frequencies.

I mean for the love of the wee man, you think if it were that easy, Apple wouldn't maybe have thought of it? Come on people—engage brain before posting please! Have you seen the press pictures of Apple's testing chambers? You do not build those then fill them with morons, no matter how much you'd like that to be the case.

If Occam were here, he'd have a luxuriant beard by now.

0
0
Silver badge

All of which is true, but...

...no one seems to be able to explain why Apple didn't discover the problem before launch. Did no one hold the phone - like a phone? did no one try weak signal areas? did no one hold the phone without a bumper.

Apple's testing was not thorough.

2
1

Oops

Forgot to mention the other thing Apple did half-right; they made bumpers that would allow users to choose to shift the balance between signal and form-factor I mentioned in the above post. But £25?! They should've bundled from the get-go. Apple need to understand that brand-loyalty is their greatest asset, and sometimes it's the small details—the little touches that go above and beyond—that strengthen this.

But let me just be clear: the phone DOES WORK without the bumper, insofar as it holds calls and handles data—even when gripped—in areas where other phones manage. It just works even better in a bumper.

0
1
Headmaster

Why not?

Apple's engineers knew the phone demonstrated a greater degree of signal attenuation, but also knew 1) that the improved performance in low signal compensated for this, and 2) the only real ways to change that would be to fit less into the phone, or increase it's form factor.

So release a phone whose antenna works fine _and_ has the features and size of the iPhone 4, or release a phone with an antenna that works better than fine but sacrifices other features.

Apple's only mistake was not to realize that the gaps would be seen as an obvious target for people who don't actually understand the physics of antenna design as well as their engineers do, and who would misinterpret the visible effects of the phone when held as being a problem. Which they admitted in their press conference. The tests being described here, in combination with the tests of the phone's performance in low signal, are now telling us what Apple has known all along. The phone works fine.

1
4
Boffin

@Physics Check

Bob no matter how many times SJ says it does not make it so! There are TWO issues, shielding and shorting. Shielding is the issue that affects all phones and cannot be fixed. (this is why SJ syas they cannot get around the laws of physics) BUT the issue that affects the jPhone and NO other is that which CAN be fixed with Tape, Lacquer or other, which is the issue of Shorting!

You say that "Thin insulating coatings on antennae do not affect their performance in any meaningful way" Whilst that is true for shielding it is wrong if that coating prevents the antenna from shorting/contacting to the ground plane! antennas MUST be isolated. They always have and always will need to be.

As for the anchoic chambers, who says Apply would use such an imprecise device stand as a human? most companies use a static mount for testing, so how would they detect the fault? its a design flaw that has not been tested for, and due to the secretive 'always use a 3G case' real world testing its easy to see how it was not spotted before release.

So, with all the talk of morons, how do you rate this professors comments?

http://translate.google.dk/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.comon.dk%2Fnyheder%2FEr-iPhone-4-foedt-med-antenne-problemer-1.362104.html&sl=da&tl=en

Is he qualifed enough to talk about this? His comments were speculative, Pre-Release! he has no bias. and he was not wrong!

0
0
Megaphone

It just works my foot

Hopefully we would hear less of the cringe worthy tagline - 'It just works'. Haha how the proud have been humbled!. Love it.

1
1
Troll

I can't help thinking...

...that Apple are perhaps receiving marketing help from Bose.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.