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Apple Raises Eyebrows with Droid X Video Showing Signal Drop

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Nobody ever accused of Apple of being shy when it comes to attacking the competition. Remember the I’m a Mac, I’m a PC commercials? Well, it looks like Apple is going to continue to push its claims that its “Death Grip/Antennagate” issues are shared by all phones from all makers, and do so with a very aggressive posture.

After highlighting phones that Apple claims share the problem at its press conference, (and taking some immediate flack from those companies in return), Apple has released a video supposedly showing the issue with the latest and greatest Android challenger, the Droid X.

Of course lots of folks are crying foul. Some Droix X users are saying they can’t replicate the problem. And some (like me) are even questioning Apple’s judgment here. Apple’s defense in this issue is two fold. All phones have the problem, and signal strength determines whether or not this is a crippling issue. On the latter front, Apple is begging for someone to bring all of these phones into some sort of chamber (similar to the ones it so proudly showed off) and do some real testing to show more conclusive results than the videos it (or others) produce. Consumer Reports kicked this thing into the high stakes realm, perhaps they will take on that challenge. Eventually this has to lift itself beyond the realm of “he said, she said.” On the former front, if all phones suffer from the issue, as Apple claims, why belabor the point, unless you’re just playing cutthroat. Oh, wait. That’s what Apple likes to do.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

26 Comments

  1. Mike

    07/24/2010 at 7:38 am

    I am the only one who thinks apple looks like an asinine child with all this crap?

  2. shauns

    07/24/2010 at 7:56 am

    It’s obvious that none of the other phones has any issues. Apple’s claims are FUD and lies.

    Firstly, there’s the difference between the “death grip” and the “death touch”:

    In normal use, nobody would ever hold any of those phones in the way that Apple does in the videos. It’s simply not natural to squeeze the phone.

    By contrast, the “death touch” really is the natural way of holding the phone. That’s why it’s such a huge issue with the iPhone.

    That alone is enough reason to call Apple’s claime nonsense, but there’s more:

    There is no other phone that lets you bridge its antenna with other metal parts. That’s why the iPhone 4 is the ONLY phone suffering from that issue.

    Of course, you can shield any phone’s antenna with your hand (despite that it’s usually not the natural way of holding the phone).

    But that’s an entirely different thing. Apple is lying about the nature of the issue.

    So, with this in mind, it’s clear that no other phone or manufacturer suffers from similar issues and all of Apple’s claims are bogus.

    This also becomes clear when you look at the dropped call statistics. AT&T claims a dropped call rate of 1.44% for all of its phones. According to Steve Jobs, the iPhone 4 drops almost one more call per 100 than the iPhone 3GS. Compare that to the usually less than two dropped calls per 100 for any other phone – it’s insane.

  3. TabletTeacher

    07/24/2010 at 8:02 am

    Shauns,

    Other phones do drop signals when you hold them tight, and if you’re working outdoors it is natural to hold the phone tighter.

    As for Apple’s Claims, I think they are trying to justify their phone’s issue…yes. BUT, I think they have a valid point.

    A friend has a Motorola and will drop a call right next to me when I’m using my HTC Touch Pro. There are also times when I’ll have full-signal and he will not. The same goes in other areas.

    I don’t think the problem is isolated to just the iPhone. I do however, think their design prompts a change in the future. JMHO.

    The iPhone problem is being overblown.

  4. shauns

    07/24/2010 at 8:11 am

    No, TabletTeacher, you didn’t get the point.

    Of course any phone’s signal is not as good when you hold it in your hand as when you don’t. That’s not up for discussion.

    But NO OTHER PHONE lets you bridge the antenna with other metal parts, dropping the signal by TWICE as much as when you grip any other phone so tightly that your hand hurts!

    Bridging the antennas of the iPhone 4 is the natural way of holding the phone, whereas gripping a phone so tightly that your hand hurts certainly is not. And even if you squeeze any other phone, you can’t make the signal drop as far as by touching the iPhone in that lower left corner.

    That’s the issue with the iPhone 4 and that’s why NO OTHER PHONE has any issues at all. Apple’s claims are pure bogus.

  5. shauns

    07/24/2010 at 8:13 am

    And no, TabletTeacher, the problem is NOT OVERBLOWN.

    One additional dropped call per 100, like Steve Jobs said, is an insane increase. It means up to twice as many dropped calls as with any other phone!

    That’s HUGE.

  6. shauns

    07/24/2010 at 8:17 am

    And by the way, German “Consumer Reports”, aka “Stiftung Warentest” confirmed in lab tests that you can drop the iPhone’s signal by 90% if you touch its “weak spot”.

    They couldn’t drop any other phone’s signal by more than 25%. And that’s by grippint the phones tightly, not just touching them.

    There you have it:
    http://www.test.de/themen/computer-telefon/schnelltest/4116516-4116521/

  7. GoodThings2Life

    07/24/2010 at 8:38 am

    Apple comes off as a whiny child with all of this, and frankly I’m laughing my butt off about it at this point. The most intelligent response to the whole situation I’ve read anywhere is this post on ZDNet:

    http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-85986-1629621?tag=talkback-river;1_85986_1629621

    And as I said on one of Sumocat’s articles the other day, I am betting that the white iPhone delay is directly the result of them taking the time to “correct” this issue, and they will claim to be responding to consumers, but they’ll still charge you for the new design.

    • No Stranger

      07/25/2010 at 1:06 pm

      Utter trolling nonsense from GT2L and Shauns (Obsessive and slighty creepy).

      Shauns, do you OWN one? No, no you don’t. Utter, overblown press hysteria, not GBM I might add, but the larger tech press. Apple defending their brand from outrageous attack, yep, how dare they do that according to you two.

      Oh, I have an HTC Desire, Thinkpad and TC1100 slate. This Apple obsession by those who purport to like them is truly the strangest thing in tech today.

      • No Stranger

        07/25/2010 at 1:07 pm

        I meant ‘dislike’ them.

  8. Sumocat

    07/24/2010 at 8:55 am

    Whatever you think of Apple or this situation, the fact is Verizon claimed there’s no wrong way to hold Droid X in a not so subtle jab at the iPhone 4. Apple isn’t taking the high ground, but they didn’t throw the first punch either.
    http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/30/droid-x-ad-iphone-4/

    • shauns

      07/24/2010 at 9:00 am

      Well, have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fup7fb1qIM

      If I had to decide, I would say Verizon is right and Apple faked the test.

      • Epyon

        07/24/2010 at 11:06 am

        I wouldn’t doubt that for a second
        Even Engadget (famous for kissing Apple’s ass) reported that they found it difficult to repeat the results on their Droid X.

      • Sumocat

        07/24/2010 at 1:01 pm

        Or you can search YouTube and find examples of different grips working and not working on a variety of phones including the Droid X and iPhone 4. Must be a conspiracy.

        • shauns

          07/24/2010 at 1:10 pm

          There is no conspiracy. The iPhone 4 has a unique design flaw, that’s all there is.

          Its signal drops 90% when held naturally or simply touched in the lower left corner, whereas other phones are designed so that their signal does not dropped when held naturally and only drops up to 25% when gripped tightly (something that nobody ever does in normal use).

          The design flaw is that the antenna can be grounded by bridging it with other metal parts, something that is not possible with any other phone.

          That’s really all there is. The iPhone 4′s antenna has a design flaw that makes it drop calls up to twice as often as other phones (AT&T’s average dropped call rate is 1.44%, Verizon’s is certainly even lower).

          There is no ‘antennagate’, there is no ‘death grip’. All there is is a stupid, unique design flaw that makes the iPhone 4 lose reception and drop calls when held naturally.

          • Sumocat

            07/24/2010 at 2:14 pm

            No arguments here on the death spot, but Verizon foolishly sniped at the iPhone on the death grip. Had they made it about the death spot or simply not said anything in the first place, then I’d agree Apple is just blowing more smoke, but Verizon made it about the death grip. Apple gets no karma points here, but Verizon set the terms.

          • shauns

            07/24/2010 at 2:33 pm

            “And most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls.”

            That’s what Verizon said. They don’t say your signal won’t drop at all no matter how you hold it. They say you can make crystal clear calls “just about anywhere”.

            And I’m still under the impression that Apple’s “tests” are fake.

            They showed off their hundred million dollar testing labs, so why do they need to do unscientific “tests” like this, showing us bars, instead of measuring what’s really important, which is reception and call quality?

            Because other phones have no issues that they would be able to demonstrate, that’s why.

            Their tests would show that other phones’ signal drops by 10-15dBm and call quality is not affected, whereas the iPhone drops 25-30dBm and audio quality is affected significantly, even in areas with good reception.

          • Sumocat

            07/24/2010 at 2:49 pm

            Clearly you’re going to believe what you want no matter what anyone on YouTube, Engadget or anywhere else claim.

          • shauns

            07/24/2010 at 3:41 pm

            I’m not going to believe anything. I do not want to believe anything.

            Believing means ruling out possibilities. I don’t do that.

            I’m a scientist. I’m searching for evidence and drawing conclusions about what is likely or not, from those pieces of evidence.

            I’m not going to say one thing is absolutely true or the other, or that I believe one thing is absolutely true or the other.

            All I’m saying is what the impressions are that I get from those pieces of evidence.

            And in this case, the impression I get is that Apple’s claims are bogus.

            Here are my pieces of evidence. Read them and draw your own conclusions:

            Anandtech has shown that the Nexus One’s signal drops by only 10dBm when holding it normally, while the iPhone 4′s signal drops by 24dBm.

            Even when gripped tightly, the Nexus One’s signal drops by only 17dBm, compared to 24dBm on the iPhone. And of course, nobody holds his phone like that in normal use.

            Source: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3821/iphone-4-redux-analyzing-apples-ios-41-signal-fix/3

            CNET have done a video that has shown that, even when the iPhone 4 has 5 bars, by just touching the weak spot, the person on the other end can’t hear you anymore.

            Source: http://cnettv.cnet.com/iphone-4-antenna-tests/9742-1_53-50090044.html

            German Stiftung Warentest have done scientific testing and seen the iPhone 4′s reception drop by 90% when the weak spot gets touched.
            They could not make other phones drop more than 25%, even when gripping them tightly.

            Source: http://www.test.de/themen/computer-telefon/schnelltest/4116516-4116521/

            Steve Jobs himself has confirmed that the iPhone 4 drops up to one more call per 100 than the 3GS (it must be very close to one, otherwise he would have used other numbers). AT&T’s average dropped call rate is 1.44%, they claim.
            If the iPhone 3GS is an ‘average’ AT&T phone, that means the iPhone 4 drops about 67% more calls than the 3GS. A HUGE increase!

            Source: http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2010/07/21/att-we-have-a-1-44-dropped-call-rate/

            I don’t even have to mention the thousands of Youtube videos showing the iPhone 4′s problem.

            The real issue is not that you can make the signal drop, but HOW and by HOW MUCH.

            HOW: Hold the iPhone 4 naturally in your left hand, like everyone does while surfing or making left-handed calls.
            That’s very different from ‘death-gripping’.

            HOW MUCH: 20dBm vs. 10dBm or 90% vs. 25% or 99% vs. 90%, depending on your system of measurement. Or, in other words: Much more than with other phones.

            And I can even explain to you WHY the iPhone has those problems and other phones don’t.

            The iPhone 4 is the only phone that lets yoou ground the antenna by bridging it with other metal parts.

            Other phones let you shield the antenna, which of course causes attenuation. A drop of 10dBm means power drops by a factor of 10, or 90%.

            But that’s very different to grounding the antenna, which causes it to become completely ineffective. A drop of 20dBm means power drops by a factor of 100, or 99%.

            That means, if you hold both phones naturally, the Nexus One still recieves ten times the radiation power of the iPhone 4.

            At -91dBm (the minimum for full 5 bars in iOS4.0), the Nexus One only shows 3 bars, but it can still easily make crystal clear calls when held naturally, even though it loses 10dBm, whereas the iPhone 4 gets very close to dropping the call, which happens at -113dBm.

            Bars don’t mean anything. If one phone shows 4 bars at -90dBm and another shows 4 bars at -80dBm, the radiation power recieved by the first phone is still 90% less than that recieved by the latter.

            By showing us bars, instead of doing real reception and audio quality measurements, Apple essentially admits that other phones don’t have any real issues.

  9. acerbic

    07/24/2010 at 11:31 am

    In the next round of Apple videos, they’ll be holding the other phones wearing these

    http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Steel-Mesh-Glove-Stainless-Steel-c83p5858.html

    to show how you really can’t hold any other phone however you like either.

  10. Roberto

    07/24/2010 at 1:36 pm

    Apple should spend more time researching how their own phones work. Maybe then the Iphone wouldn’t have problems. Of course I see the apologists are already out here in the comments section.

  11. Mike aka C-141xlr

    07/24/2010 at 1:59 pm

    That’s a great video, and it proves Apple is desperately grasping at straws.

    The problem is not whether bars decrease, it’s whether the calls drop or are interfered with. The test chamber that Consumer Reports used did not find issues with other phones. It was not a test to see if the bars drop or not, it was a signal test. As Apple recently brought up, those bars are just a manufacturer design of the representation of a signal. They are not accurate and do not dictate that your call has dropped or will be a successful call. I can set my 3GS on my desk and watch the signal move up and down without ever touching it. The real issue is whether the call will be successful, and the conversation of good quality.

    In this video http://cnettv.cnet.com/iphone-4-antenna-tests/9742-1_53-50090044.html CNET shows the real problem, not the bars but the signal.

  12. Chris Hickie

    07/24/2010 at 3:51 pm

    Is there any volume on this clip? I don’t get any volume signal, but I’m sure it has nothing to do with how I’m holding my X60.

  13. shauns

    07/24/2010 at 5:09 pm

    WTF Gottabemobile, are you now censoring facts that you don’t like?

    • shauns

      07/24/2010 at 5:10 pm

      Or is it an issue with your commenting system?

      Whatever it is, approve it already.

    • Warner Crocker

      07/24/2010 at 8:15 pm

      Sorry for the delay in approving the comment and sorry we tested your patience. Don’t think it warrants a charge of censorship though.

      • shauns

        07/25/2010 at 4:24 am

        Sorry, Warner, I didn’t think about it at first. Was upset by some stupid article on another blog. My bad, I’m too impatient sometimes.

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