But if there is no design issue at work here, why did Anandtech and I both show significantly different attenuation when holding an iPhone 4 in a bare hand compared to holding it in a case? And why did Apple themselves recommend “using a case” as a possible solution to the problem? — Richard Gaywood, PhD on wireless network design from Cardiff University
The issue here is hardware, the antenna design is flawed. Despite technical data proving that the antenna on the iPhone 4 is better than its predecessor, its external design means it is more susceptible to attenuation than previous iPhones.
In our own observations, we stated that the only way to fix the attenuation issue on the iPhone 4 is to insulate the external antenna, and it seems at the moment that the official iPhone casing – the Bumper – is a perfect solution. Reviewers with even more technical knowledge and equipment have come to the same conclusion.
The drop in signal from holding the phone with your left hand arguably remains a problem. Changing the bars visualization may indeed help mask it, and to be fair the phone works fine all the way down to -113 dBm, but it will persist – software updates can change physics as much as they can change hardware design. At the end of the day, Apple should add an insulative coating to the stainless steel band, or subsidize bumper cases. It’s that simple. — Anandtech
To completely eliminate the issue, Apple will have to re-look at the way the external antenna is installed or consider adding an invisible insulation layer to future iPhone 4s. But those in the know says that a re-desing can be a long and expensive process
It’s a fundamental flaw that can only be fixed through a redesign. If that is redone, all the FCC will have to be completed again. This may be a long slow process to fix. — Michael Anderson, ex-engineer at Motorola’s FCC testing lab
Before this can happen the question that will linger in the minds of many iPhone 4 owners and would be owners is will Apple buckle under public pressure and issue free Bumpers to close to 2 million iPhone 4 as a quick fix?
This is something we’re all looking forward to see happen.