John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Logical: Smartphone “Death Grip” Is Universal, Say Researchers

“Smartphones have weak spots….You can grab them in the course of normal use and you will drop reception.”

Steve Jobs said that during Apple’s antennagate press conference last summer and today brings fresh independent evidence to confirm it. In a revisiting of research first performed in 2005, University of Bristol’s Center for Communications found that a thumb placed over a smartphone antenna can cause an up to 100-fold reduction in sensitivity. “This means that its ability to transmit/receive signals is severely impaired–especially that the received signal strength tends to fall significantly and then tends to fluctuate more widely and so to be less reliable,” researcher Mark Beach told MSNBC. “Signal strength is in general worse and more likely to drop below the threshold at which a connection to the network can be maintained.”

In other words, the so called smartphone “death grip” is a scientifically proven phenomenon.

Interestingly, Beach and his team found that placing a barrier between the thumb and antenna didn’t really preserve signal strength–in a lab setting, anyway. Said Beach, “There was no recovery in the electrical behavior of the antenna….Its transmitting/receiving characteristics were not returned to their hands free state.”

So does that mean the free cases and bumpers Apple offered death-grip-suffering iPhone 4 owners were just placebos? Not necessarily. Beach’s team did not conduct their research on the iPhone 4 and its non-standard antenna design.