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 …


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  1. Chris McFaul


    "not available in the uk"

    Last time i was in the apple store (three days after the phone's uk launch) they had wall to wall bumpers!

    AND the bumper I ordered through apples free bumper program has also been delivered (as have several of my friends!)

    1. Marky W


      You read that article and the thing that bothered you most was the fact they weren't using Apple's specially santioned rubber band?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      B U M P E R S ?

      Who the hell ever heard of a "bumper" except on a car or a train?

      Sheesh... we let these companies fill our lives with so much garbage...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Is a bumper on a train?

      2. Richard IV


        Ever since I was a young boy,

        I've played a mean pinball,

        From Soho down to Brighton,

        I must have played them all....

        That deaf, dumb and blind Jobs,

        Sure plays a mean iPhone.

      3. Big-nosed Pengie


        These are the idiots who gave us "think different".

        1. Code Monkey

          @Big-nosed Pengie

          "Think different" aka "manage your expectations".

      4. Jolyon

        Who the hell ever heard of a "bumper" except on a car or a train?

        Grace Jones.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Friends delivery?

      "AND the bumper I ordered through apples free bumper program has also been delivered (as have several of my friends!)"

      Why are Apple delivering your friends through the post? Do your friends have special antenna-boosting capabilities when they are wrapped around an iPhone? We must be told!!

    4. Doug Glass


      You get your friends through the mail system? Wow, porn on the hoof.

  2. g e

    Dear The Register

    The plain truth of the matter is:

    PA Consulting, quite simply, are completely wrong. I have invented this reality, not them, only I know how to accurately measure anything in it.


    Steve (Honest Steve) Jobs

    P.S. You guys are welcome to come to any of our do's any time you like

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If real, it would have read, how problem of a biggie is that?

  3. Chris 211


    NOW Will apple please stop marketing spin, ie LIES and for once in history tell the truth and admit the problem, then people can make a proper judgement based on facts. Looking at the report blackberry did well. Wow what everyone seams to want, a phone that actually makes phone calls! Personally I prefer the nokia e71 which keeps making calls however hard I grip it under stressful conditions...

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I think you'll find the word is "marketing".

      Oh. Right...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They won't stop. They'll just say PA got paid off by the other phone companies, or say that they didn't test the phone properly.

      They'll just keep making up more and more lies.

    3. Peter 39

      then ..

      >Personally I prefer the nokia e71 which keeps making calls

      >however hard I grip it under stressful conditions...


      under stressful condition grab whatever nookie you (reasonably and decently) can.

      Since the iPhone4 didn't work as you expected, I hope you have returned it and we will therefore hear from you no more. If you don't like it but kept it then please tell us why.

      1. g e


        A NOOKIA!!!!!


    4. Big-nosed Pengie

      NOW Will apple please stop marketing spin, ie LIES and for once in history tell the truth


    5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Jobs Halo

      A Karl Rove is demanded!


      As quoted by Ron Susskind:

      The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

  4. Steen Hive


    "We [Apple] haven't figured out a way around the laws of physics yet."

    There seems to be a sizeable section of the population that either believes they have, or are simply unfazed at the thought of buying a total lemon at the cost of several hundred pounds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo


      Just change the laws of physics, no big deal.

      Sent from my nokia.

      1. A handle is required
        Jobs Horns

        Title is required

        Change the laws of physics? Another thing for them to patent!

    2. Jez Burns

      Far from a lemon IMHO

      I read everything I could, thought about it for ages, checked one out and bought it. I have no particular devotion to Apple, use some of their gear but readily accept the flaws and the good points, just like anything else. IMHO Apple's response to the antenna issue has been arrogant and appalling, and has left them rightly open to a massive amount of criticism. When I bought the phone I knew all about the antenna issues, but had no idea, thanks to Apple's obfuscation and out-of-control rumours and speculation everywhere, whether it would be a big or a small problem.

      I live in the Midland's countryside with weak 3g reception. I found immediately that bridging the gap between the two antennas caused a massive signal drop. If I moved my finger so much as a couple of millimetres away from the antenna gap, the signal was restored. This in my mind rules out general RF interference from the body as the problem- it really is an antenna bridging issue.

      On the other hand, I've found it pretty easy not to hold the phone in a way that would bridge the two antennas (I wouldn't hold the phone that way anyway, other than browsing / text messaging). I've also ordered a case, which I would use in any event as the phone would almost certainly smash if dropped on a hard surface.

      In every other respect, I've been utterly blown away by the phone - particularly good points for me are the speed and the display which are both amazing. The reception, when held 'normally' is pretty good. It's horses for courses really - if you're not prepared to be restricted in the way you hold the phone, or to get a case for it, I wouldn't bother buying one. For me, this isn't a problem, and in every other respect the phone is about as far from a lemon as you can get. It's a shame really, as Apple deserve a lot of credit for pushing the boundaries so far.

      Please don't flame me! I have no axe to grind, I'm utterly unbiased and technologically literate - this is just my opinion and I'm hoping it might clear things up for anyone else considering buying one..

    3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Jobs Horns

      physics # ↑

      No need to change the laws of physics, just create iPhysics (and patent it)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Ye canna change the laws o'physics, Jim.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet they continue to buy the iFlaw ^h^h^h^h^h iPhone

    Jobs knows what the punters want.... The unlocked iPhone was launched today and there was, as usual, a huge queue at the local Apple retail stores. According to our local paper, some of the comments were:

    "I've been waiting three years for this to come out, I'm pumped,

    "You can go anywhere in the world with it and the resale is much higher,"

    "He says he doesn't know what to do with it but he'll like it as soon as he gets it,"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I lol'd

      When I read: "He says he doesn't know what to do with it but he'll like it as soon as he gets it."

      I thought of the dog in that movie Click where the dog humps the duck pillow until he rips a hole in it. Oh Apple fanbois.

  6. Badwolf
    Gates Halo


    That it - I'm selling my iPhone and gonna get myself a Windows Mobile

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      "Windows Mobile"

      Ha ha ha! Windows Mobile!

  7. OrsonX

    "just browsing, thank-you"


    Played with an iPhone4 in my local Orange store today, lightly pinched both bottom black strips, signal fell from 5 bars to just 1.... I grinned!!

    I then went next door to O2 and tried same again, both phones also had 5 bars, this time pinching did nothing to the reception!?

    What fun!

    1. Franklin

      A title is required

      "I then went next door to O2 and tried same again, both phones also had 5 bars, this time pinching did nothing to the reception!?"

      I don't have an iPhone 4, but it seems that most of my friends do. I've now played with 4 different iPhone 4s belonging to folks I know, and I haven't been able to replicate the antenna problem.

      I've tried holding the phones with the so-called "death grip." I've tried putting my thumb over the gap between the antennas in the lower left corner. No change in signal strength on any of them.

      I've heard that it slows down Web access, so I tried firing up a Web browser, browsing to a server where I stored a number of large images, and then holding the phone in various ways. No noticeable impact.

      I even tried dipping a finger in water and bridging the gap between the antennas on one of the phones, on the hypothesis that it might very skin conductivity enough to make a difference. Nada.

      Since I don't think that the people who ARE having problems are a bunch of liars who are making the whole thing up, that's left me with one of two hypotheses to explain the problems that others are reporting and my inability to replicate them: either the problem only affects some phones and not others, for God knows what reason, or the problem only affects phones under certain conditions (perhaps if the signal is already weak? Perhaps under certain reception environments? Perhaps if the phone is or is not already connected to a WiFi network? Maybe if the phase of the moon is right?)

      In any event, I haven't personally seen the problem. What I have seen is that it's rather a nice phone, with a display that's nothing short of stunning.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        it affects those with more conductive skin? Like some people have dry hair and some greasy; some tan and others burn.

        There are probably people who if they did the Death Grip, would spontaneously combust !

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Franklin

          A title is still required

          "You portrait yourself as independent, yet browsing through your comments reveals you as an Apple fanboy, who owns an iPhone and various Apple computers and devices."

          And several Windows boxes, and a couple of Linux boxes, and a Sun. Your point?

          "So what we got here is another one of those pathetic attempts by people trapped in the reality disorder field, to counter independent research by anecdotal evidence. "It didn't happen to me, therefore, so take that into account when you consider the, ehm, damning facts"."

          Sounds to me like what we have here is "I have a neurotic hatred of all things Apple. I seize on any reported Apple defect as Holy Gospel. If some Apple user says that he has not personally witnessed a problem, well, he must be deluded."

          I've never quite wrapped my head around some people's neurotic need to hate Apple, and to enshrine the belief that all users of any Apple products are deluded.

          I will say, and stand by, the fact that I personally have not witnessed this particular antenna problem. You will note, if you chill out, let go of the neurosis, and read my post more calmly, that I have not said that there is no problem at all--only that I haven't seen it, which suggests that it doesn't affect every phone under every circumstance.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My grandad

          My grandad smoked all his life and lived to be a hundred so smoking doesn't harm you.

          Yeah, right.

      3. Chris 211


        So Franklin, you and your team of lab techs. did some iphone4 testing, oh wait you tried a few phones out? You dont have a lab and a number of test phones and tested them like a scientist, oh.

        Your argument is invalid, thank-you good bye!

    2. Carl Williams

      Incomplete testing

      Orange is on the GSM1800 band and O2 on the 900 band, differing frequencies may be subject to different levels of detuning and attenuation.

      Not read the report but PA should have also tested on the 1800 band as well for completeness, without these results or even tests being done as much as I dislike the iphone and jobs' spin these results are not conclusive at all.

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge

        But 3G is on the 2.1GHz band for both companies

        And if they'd fallen back to 2G/EDGE (and I believe that Orange don't even have EDGE) they'd be getting rather a lot of comments about that

        1. Piers

          O2 do have EDGE

          Just so you know.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Do o2 not have instore repeaters? as 5 bars is max perhaps sitting right next to a repeater gives it more of a chance?

      Dunno, just a guess

    4. Anonymous Coward


      two conclusions:

      1) the phones are different - maybe a newer batch has a coated antenna.

      2) the signal is different - O2 and Orange do not share a network

      My hypothesis is that the Orange Signal is the weaker (initially showing as 5 bars due to bars bug) and has a more noticable effect, the O2 signal is also affected but is still displayed as 5 bars due also to the bars bug.

      for those that dont understand the bars bug, a medium signal displays as full. so Orange goes Medium(Full) to Low(Low) whereas O2 goes Full(Full) to Medium(Full).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The original iPhone is just as bad

    The original iPhone was just as crap, did you know that if you put a finger or part of your hand over the microphone in the bottom left of the side, it would block the microphone and people couldn't hear you. It should have been called micrphonegate, Despite knowing this, loads of people could have held it this way on purpose to join in with the fracas.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      And if you hit it with a hammer blah blah twaddle gibberish drivel HAMMERGATE!!!!!!

      Fanbois don't half talk some bollocks.

    2. bluesxman


      While we're on the subject of spurious arguments -- when it rains my garden is unusable. Let's call it Garden Gate.

      1. Doug Glass


        Like the guy with the leaky roof that never got fixed: when it was sunny he didn't need to and when it was raining he couldn't.

        Don't know which bus stop to take? Just watch me and get off three stops before I do.

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


        One of the local farmers can't keep his male sheep under control. We are calling this ramsgate.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Apologies for that,

          like the explosive device inside a male cow, that pun was abominable...


  9. Bob Kentridge

    The Real Comparison

    I'm not a fanboy. I had to program for Macs in the early 1990s and hated them (remember 7.5.3). I'm not that bothered by phones but I do like my 3GS for all of the non-phone things it does so painlessly. I want to know what the difference in performance is between old iPhones and the 4. Is there any point in updating? I'm not going to switch OS because I don't care about phones and like the one I've got, but when I can upgrade from 3GS to 4 should I?

    1. Chris 211

      @Bob Kentridge

      Your asking us? If you should upgrade the phone, ios?

      1. Get a proper phone

      2. IOS belongs to Cisco which actually means something, meaningful (Internetwork Operating System) as opposed to a tacky fashion/marketing iwhatever (yeah yeah I know they licence it, Cisco really should not have allowed it).

    2. famousringo

      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.

      1. bazza Silver 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.

    3. Robert Hill

      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.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge


        '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.

    4. Si 1

      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. :)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Um, Mr. Jobs?

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

    1. g e

      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.


      Frederick An'boi

      1. James O'Brien


        "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 :)

  12. pan2008

    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.

  13. JaitcH
    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!

    1. bluesxman

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

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

      1. Doug Glass

        Magically ...

        ... I can turn water into urine.

    2. g e

      Water into wine

      My wife does that...

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


  14. Sean Nevin

    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?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Who's paying?

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

    1. Bryce Prewitt
      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. MontyPole
        Paris Hilton


        What's that old phrase by Brendan Behan?

        "There is no such thing as bad publicity."

        Think about it.

    2. g e

      My money

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

      1. Neill Mitchell


        >>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.

  16. Joel 1

    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. g e


      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...

    2. Fred Flintstone 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 :-)

  17. 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

    1. PDC


      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.

      1. Prag Fest

        Provided... dont download any wallpapers of course.

    2. g e

      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. Anonymous Coward

      @ 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.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      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?

  18. me n u

    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?

  19. Arctic fox

    Why I will not buy... 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.

    1. Loyal Commenter 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.

  20. Aussie Brusader

    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-)

  21. Peter 39

    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. Claus P. Nielsen

      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. Bryce Prewitt
      Thumb Down


      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?

    3. Strath Dionard

      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 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.

  22. Peter 39

    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

  23. Eradicate all BB entrants

    he he he

    iPhone = Left 4 Dead pipebomb for morons :D

  24. Anonymous Coward
    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. Bob Arthur

      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.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  26. tochi

    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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    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. Bob Arthur

      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.

      1. Mike Richards Silver badge

        All of which is true, but... 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.

        1. Bob Arthur

          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.

        2. Bob Arthur


          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.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        @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?

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

  28. Bob Arthur


    Yup - seems clear: independent testing shows the iPhone 4's signal strength is within normal ranges, but at the low end. So in combination with independent testing showing the iPhone 4 holding calls ahd handling data at consistently lower signal levels than other phones, you get what most of its users report - normal performance.

    Just because PA Consulting don't know there's more to an antenna than a dBm number, doesn't make them right. Now of course I'll get derided for being a fanboy, blind to the truth and devored to the cause. But that's apparently the cost of understanding basic physics.

  29. Cunningly Linguistic

    I can't help thinking...

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

  30. Alan Denman

    More sub plot.

    Very very strange that the iPhone 3 was not listed

    It seems to be that the iPhone 3 was in fact low ainquality yet misaligned A T & T took all the blame?

  31. Charles Smith

    I'd use my iPhone to call and complain

    ... but I'm left handed.

  32. b166er

    I think

    people should be encouraged to buy iPhone 4's. It will surely leave more room on the tower for me.

  33. Watashi

    Nokia better than Apple

    My Nokia smartphone has significantly better reception in moderate strength areas than both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4. If your primary concern with a mobile is always having the best possible signal, don't buy Apple.

  34. marky_boi
    Thumb Down

    FAIL! - Seems like a faulty testing Method

    Telstra do real world testing with their network

    Here's the URLs

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. Karl H

    still loving my Nokia E71

    and now it's on a nice "sim-only-contract"

    how nice it is not to be a slave to mobile-phone-fashion

  37. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    That's good marketing for PA - and very bad news for Apple

    Good marketing - jump on the bandwagon and ride it, and the Cambridge people were doing mobile telephony before Apple ever thought of mobile phones..

    However, this presents a rather major problem for Apple as it has put science behind the fact that they are in principle selling a product that needs a redesign to work, and that the current products thus actually need a recall. *That* is why everyone at Apple is making denial noises: the downside of selling millions is that you have to repair millions if you screw up. And screwed up they have - big time.

    While I don't have a problem with someone making a mistake and correcting it, I *do* have a problem with someone telling that all is well when the facts proof that to be a lie, it starts me wondering what else I will find out later. Trust is important, and Apple is not doing itself a favour here, thus amplifying brand damage. *Not* good..

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    What all the haters seem to be missing...

    ... is that despite all these doom and gloom reports, I've not had a single call drop on my iPhone 4 and I don't have to hold it in a special way to get it to work. Until my free bumper arrived a few days ago, I didn't use a case either. Likewise, aside from the small number of people looking to get rich quick with a class-action suit, there doesn't seem to be any sort of mass return of phones by disgruntled owners.

    The haters remain convinced that the phone never works and is a total disaster. If that is the case, it seems curious that there seems to be so many satisfied customers. Of course the haters can only conclude that anyone who likes the iPhone 4 must be an Apple fanboy that lies about the phone working, because they just cannot admit to themselves that maybe it's actually a decent phone with a great selection of apps and games.

    Sent from my iPhone 4

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Just out of interest..

      "I don't have to hold it in a special way to get it to work"

      Yeah, but the first thing I want to know is if you still have all 10 fingers.. :-)

    2. hj


      But then the issue does not exist! After all _you_ had no problems!

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Adrian Esdaile
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe they are holding it upside down?

    Because down in Australia the antenna problems seem to be completely absent.

    Maybe the model released down here has a fix?

    Paris, because that's where the truth is.

  41. Jemma

    Proof positive

    That even after 4 attempts Apple still make overpriced crap that doesnt work...

    And this is news how?

    We know this to be the case - we know they are charging people ridiculous amounts over the whyPhone - and all people do is whine about it... where are all the 'fit for purpose' calls to trading standards?

    If the item doesnt do what its supposed to - and has been proven to be a waste of space - then hit apple where it hurts - dont take the 'ooh look free case' thing - just walk back to the shop, demand a different phone, and then maybe Apple will get it right next time...

    Bitching & whining about this lump of crap and then going out and buying one gives jobsco no reason to improve the design - or make it better next time. The *only* way you are going to get any improvement is to hit them where it hurts - in their pockets.

    and while we are on the subject - what about UI customisations - what about all the other functions that the WinMo phones have had since the mid 90's - you get told what to think, own, use and how to do it - and you lap it up... and then expect the company behind it to fix a problem?!

    "Hail Mactards - for thou art gormless and have no mind of thy own..." Book of Jobs: Chap I verses I - 5

    1. Ascylto
      Big Brother


      Re-arrange the following (if you can) ...

      Bridge - Under - Get - The - Back

  42. Eden

    We got Iphone4's in to test

    As users wanted to use their personal Iphones we got a 4 in to test to try and get ahead of the first "my Iphone4 doesn't work" calls and sure enough:

    Holding it naturally in an open palm grip on my left hand goes from full bars 3G to 1 bar 3G reported, but a call to my voicemail got as far as "you have 3 new" before it dropped the call, the second call did the same, the 3rd didn't even connect.

    I've been supporting blackberries and mobiles for 7 years now and never had calls dropped because you were holding a phone in a perfectly natural way (and it IS perfectly natural to hold the phone in a way that bridges the ariels despite what some people have been posting and this makes me glad I got one to test for myself).

    Don't get me wrong the facetime + quality other than a pretty basic and fatal flaw is amazing, shame the one , sorry two, flaws (not detecting when you have it against your head) renders it not fit for purpose and anyone that complains to use their Iphone 4 keeps dropping off will be told sorry, return it for a refund nothing we can do about it.

  43. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Yup, you can certainly trust them

    2004 National ID cards

    PA Consulting won a contract with the government for the UK National ID card scheme ... "the policy, legislation, design, feasibility testing, business case and procurement elements of the proposed scheme."

    In 2008, PA Consulting lost a confidential data stick, prompting the Home Office to review its contracts with PA Consulting.

    (Source: Wikipedia)

    1. TkH11

      @Ascylto you can certainly trust them

      You seem to be implying that because an individual in PA consulting lost a memory stick that you can not trust their test results of their RF testing.

      Can you explain to me how one has a bearing on the other?

      What precisely is it about the loss of a memory stick that invalidates radio frequency measurements?

      Or are you just thinking illogically.

      1. Ascylto
        Big Brother

        @ TkH11

        The implications are:

        They didn't see the train coming


        They are an incompetent company (if they weren't then they would have prevented their employee from losing information).

        Both implications have a bearing on the degree of trust in ANY results the company may give.

        Illogical? Maybe!

  44. Ruud Noorhoff 1

    Nice, but we still don't know.

    Nice to see some nice hard numbers.

    But we still don't know if Jobs is right do we?

    PA consulting say:

    "Note that all these tests were conducted in a test chamber, calls with the iPhone could still be established outside the chamber even when using the “death grip"

    So in actual real world use performance is better than in the tests?

    How much better?

    The Anandtech tests seemed to suggest the iPhone 4 performs better in actual real world use, with less power than older iPhones.

    Are they right?

    Does being able to do more with less power, make up for having less power?

    How about compared to other phones?

    Why no data speeds for the blackberry 9700 and HTC HD2?

    PA Consulting, just did a more scientific version of looking at the bars drop.

    But if we want to know if Jobs is right when he says that all smart phones have these problems, and we're interested in real world performance, the PA consulting tests tell us next to nothing.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Fens

    I was OK with this story until I got to the bit about the tests being carried out deep in the Cambridge countryside. Out in the Fens eh? How many fingers did the testers actually have and were any of them carrying a banjo?

  46. TkH11

    @SRS who's paying PA Consulting

    Probably nobody. If PA consulting have the test equipment and chambers then the cost of running a set of tests on a suite of mobile phones is peanuts.

    If I were them, I'd run the tests to obtain free publicity, and boy what publicity they're now getting!

  47. Catherine Keynes

    It's a shame PA didn't test a real phone

    I suspect that a cheap Nokia, a 6500 or the like, would have significantly better RF performance than any of the smartphones. They should also have looked at mainstream Motorolas and Sony Ericssons.

    RIM certainly trade RF quality for price in their buying decisions, indeed all handset manufacturers do, but it's a matter of what you know and where you draw the line.

  48. Maestro
    Paris Hilton

    The long and the short of it...

    ... is that Apple have completely forgotten that the iPhone was meant to be - shock horror - a phone. They've been so busy with catching up in all the others aspects of the smart phone industry that they seem to have overlooked the most basic of basics - making a damned phone call.

    It honestly wouldn't surprise me if the 'really cool engineering' was a result of them realising towards the end of the the development "Oh crap! We forgot the antenna! Quick, draw one in on the outside of the phone. We'll call it 'cool engineering'."

    Paris because if anyone out there can grip it and use it right, it's her.

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