Antennagate Plagues HTC One (Video)

HTC’s conscious decision to focus on premium design for its HTC One flagship may come with an unintended consequenc: reception problem if the phone is held a certain way. Though we haven’t been able to confirm if the problem affects all global and U.S. releases of the HTC One, we have found–and are able to repeat–the problem on at least two Sprint Nextel HTC One units, one in the San Francisco Bay Area and another in the New York Metropolitan Area.

With an aluminum back, HTC decided to help boost reception by injecting plastic into its design components. On the silver model, you’ll find strips of white plastic running across the top and bottom of the phone, which isn’t too different from what Apple is doing on its aluminum-clad iPhone 5. Moreover, the white plastic continues on the sides of the phone as well.

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It seems, then, that this may be related to the placement of cellular antennas on the white plastic joints. On the Sprint unit, I’ve found that when I grip the phone so that the back of the device is ensconced by my palm, signal strength noticeably drops. Sometimes, the drop is only marginal, with a few bars dropping off while other times, I go from near full reception to just 1 bar of service, showing a much more significant drop.

I’ve consulted with my colleague Josh Smith, who works out of the Midwest with an unlocked HTC One that has an AT&T Mobility SIM card, and Smith says that he didn’t experience any issues related to receptions when he tried to replicate the problem. Xavier Lanier who has the AT&T-branded HTC One says that he’s been able to repeat the issue, and antennagate only mildly affects the AT&T model whereas it is more pronounced on the Sprint model, as you can see in the video below.

My colleague Shawn Ingram, who has a similar HTC One on the East Coast was able to re-create the problem. Ingram has further isolated the issue to the lower left corner of the phone.

“It’s the bottom left corner, where the white bar meets the edge of the phone,” Ingram informs me after testing my hypothesis of a potential Antennagate crisis for the HTC One. “Just putting one finger there will take off a few bars.”

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This isn’t the first problem related to reception for the HTC One, at least on Sprint Nextel’s network. Late last week, we had reported that in Sprint markets where 4G LTE towers are live but where Sprint has not announced an LTE launch, the HTC One was stuck connecting to Sprint’s older and slower 3G network and could not connect to LTE. Again, in San Francisco, I had both the Sprint Galaxy S4 from Samsung and the HTC One side by side and the Galaxy S4 was able to hop onto LTE without glitch while the HTC One chugged along on 3G; San Francisco has live LTE towers but Sprint hasn’t announced official LTE service here yet.

And HTC is no stranger to Antennagate either. Though Antennagate was coined originally to characterize Apple’s iPhone 4 reception issues, HTC’s unibody design phones also suffered those problems, including the HTC HD7 running Microsoft’s mobile OS and the HTC Sensation 4G for T-Mobile running Google’s Android OS. HTC had refuted reception issues behind the Sensation 4G despite videos on the Internet proving otherwise. More recent devices like the HTC One X was also reported to suffer from reception issues depending on how you held your phone. The One X is a surprise since that phone uses a unibody polycarbonate design, which is far friendlier to to cellular radio reception than the metal construction of the other mentioned HTC phones and the HTC One.

We’ve reached out to HTC for comment and an official statement, but as this issue was discovered over the weekend, HTC has not had time to respond. We’ll update this post once we hear news from HTC. We’re also continuing to investigate if other carrier variants of the HTC One suffer the same reception issues as our Sprint units.

In the interim, if you’re an early adopter of the HTC One, have you suffered any reception issues based on how you hold or grip your phone? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter and be sure to include which variant of the HTC One you have. In the U.S. the HTC One is available on AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile USA.

Comments

  1. Tony says

    Dang, if true it means HTC just shot their flagship with an aluminum silver bullet…not good HTC, not good. Strike one (for many people) was lack of removable battery (and a small battery), strike two was no storage card, this would be strike three just about ensuring HTC’s demise.

    • tuna_ says

      If you actually read the article, he says it only mildly affected the AT&T version of the One. The problem is Sprint.

    • improvementforever says

      They did. I’m a sprint user in Charlotte. My HTC One is awful since the android update to 4.3. my signal is inconsistent and i’m about to give up and turn this crap in for a Galaxy. I hated my Galaxy II. I’m SO disappointed.

  2. matt says

    I have an at&t HTC one, it has zero antenna problems, in fact it’s better reception than previous HTC one x,

  3. J R says

    iPhone had no removable battery and no SD and antenna problems and it immediately tanked, so Tony must be right that the HTC One will go the same route because of these few anecdotes. Yeah, got it, thanks.

  4. julius says

    I have htc one european version but it has no antenna problem whatsoever. Hmmmmm… somethings fishy

  5. Tony says

    JR- You really need to learn to read. I said for many people, and if true…I happen to like HTC and hope they succeed. The last thing they need is an issue with their anntena.

  6. Larry says

    Don’t tell me this!! That’s one reason I shit can apple!! Are you serious???????? Going, going, gone!!!

  7. Matt says

    There is nothing fishy about the phone, people seem to forget that Sprint has very limited coverage period, and even more limited LTE coverage, and if ATT or international versions are having no problems, then it is a carrier issue and not a manufacturer problem

  8. jnt says

    Any phone in an area of weak signal on any carrier will have attenuation issues if you hold it in a way to obstruct the antenna with your hand. I’m not saying there’s nothing going on here, but try and keep things in perspective – especially if this doesn’t appear to be widespread.

  9. S7ven says

    See samsung are paying reviewers in America to chat rubbish now. I have the HTC One and have no problems with reception.

  10. Dave says

    I have a One running on Sprint and I can’t replicate the problem with my whole hand or just a finger.

  11. Prince Emily says

    10 phones tested so far, only 2 claim to have the issue: yours and a “colleague”… all other phones tested outside of you..no issue.

    20% failure, 100% located in your tests alone. Yet you call this “antennagate” like its something widespread.

    Perhaps you should look somewhere else other than the manufacturer for the cause?

  12. Bill says

    Umm maybe you should do a google search on “Sprint” Reception problems. What you described has been going on for last 2+ years no matter what phone you have. Conclusion: Sprint just sucks!

  13. Bonedatt says

    No athenna issues with my HTC ONE from T-Mobile. It’s a beautifully well crafted phone with awesome features. However, I do have capacitive buttons issues. Sometimes a touch input on the home or back button has to be repeated twice or with a harder press for it to register. Fix this ASAP, HTC, before I go back to using my Galaxy S2.

  14. Ryan says

    I have a Sprint HTC One, and I’m located in Chicago. The antenna seems to be a big issue. I can rarely connect to 4G. When I am in the city, I am lucky to even connect to 3G. Usually I have no internet at all.

    As far as the issue you mentioned here, it is true. When I cover the upper strip of plastic on the back of the phone with my finger, I immediately lose what little signal I have. I tested this several times, and it happened repeatedly.

  15. Brian says

    My silver HTC one is having the same issue. I’m on sprint and work in
    a large building. I typically get 3 to 4 bars but drop down to 1 if my finger or palm is on the lower left corner. It’s to bad because I really love this phone

  16. jfranco328 says

    I dont understand. One of the “got to be mobile” editors gave the new HTC ONE an editor’s choice award following his review. This is what he had to say about the call quality, “Call quality varies with coverage, but while talking to callers on the AT&T network the HTC One delivered crisp clear call quality on both ends. The front-facing speakers deliver clear speakerphone quality, but callers reported we sounded garbled.” Why wasn’t signal strength or reception included in the review? I think this perhaps an issue with the way your unit may have been manfactured, not a design issue and/or as others already stated an issue with the carrier…Looking at your video demonstration, I am more incline to believe your unit is defective.

    Jason

  17. David Liu says

    My HTC One has no anntena problem here in Melbourne Australia. Actually the reception is much better than my previous phone.

  18. Michael says

    i don’t know what you are talking about….. my phone doesn’t have this problem at all . i have tried it many times nothing happened!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. BIGLOU says

    I have not noticed this on my device (sprint One) However I did notice that my wife’s device (GSIII) that she was getting an LTE signal when I was not.

  20. flex720 says

    this is a bunch of lies
    i have no signal issues, and i live in new york

    i actually have all bars full right now
    just because you are in a crappy signal area doesnt mean its the phone

    one has to wonder if the whole story about Samsung paying sites to bad mouth htc one, is actually true

    stop spreading lies. you have lost your credibility. and this is the first time im coming to this site. you know im not coming back again

    • Larry says

      True that there flex 720 it’s the area!!! Not the phone!! Some areas where I live in so Cali Verizon has 4g LTE and just down the street it will be 3G ?? It depends we’re you are due to buildings, trees, hills etc!! People talk crap on t mobiles iPhone 5 some places his will have 4g and Verizon will not!! That’s proof!! It’s the carrier !! You phone is only good as the metwork you choose to be with!! Hell they all rip ya off anyways some how lol

  21. Austin says

    I have a Sprint HTC One, and I have extremely HORRIBLE problems with this “antennagate”! It goes from 5 or 6 bars, all the way down to 1. It also does this with Wi-Fi if you touch the top-middle of the phone, like in landscape mode. On all three One’s that I tried this on, all of them had it. Maybe its just the silver version? Anyone know?

  22. Daryl says

    It is a real problem. I purchased the One a week ago and had perfect reception with it. I had to swap it for a screen separation issue. The new one has all of the issues with the antenna and on a call the voices fade in and out. I’m going to swap this one (14 day) and see what happens with the new one. One caveat though is the first one I had must not have loaded fully because none of the sprint bloatware loaded on to it but the second did.

  23. kris says

    I am on my second HTC one because the first one had no WiFi unless you put the phone on top of the router, and the wireless signal would go up and down constantly. I warranted it with sprint, now my second HTC one barely is ever on 4g, only momentarily gets over 3 bars of 3g and when sitting still with no obstruction the WiFi signal goes up and down constantly. There is also a lot of lag when switching from 3g to 4g. oh yeah, and it does have the antenna gate issue.

  24. Russ S says

    The HTC G2 with T-mobile was my first encounter with HTC. It was the best phone I’ve ever had to date. (15 years in cellular construction). Just got the HTC One because of this legacy. What a disappointment. I took the one and couldn’t get a decent signal took out sim card and put it back in G2 and sitting side by side with the one…. BAM, 3 bars of 4G. Went and got the Samsung S4 and have the same or just a tad better than the G2. But G2 is 2 years old.. so gonna give it the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, it does sound as though there is a problem…. HTC – You should stay with the G2 style and keep improving that… Also, a note to all carriers ” start putting an external antenna port on your phones…. none of them have as good of antennas as they could be. So let us get antennas if we want to try and get better reception!!!! Like we used to be able to do…

  25. [email protected] says

    I have had nothing but problems with my new HTC One from sprint (in Los Angles and Dallas). VERY disappointed with this phone…returning phone and getting the S4. I would NEVER recommend this phone to anyone!

  26. CC says

    I am using HTC One since 15 days. I first noticed this problem when my friends complained about my voice break ups during the conversation every now n then. I then realized that whenever i m holding my phone with my shoulder’s support(carrying something from my car, can’t hold the phone) there is a significant drop in call quality. I mean i gotto repeat what i said by holding the phone back in my hand. Its that bad.
    Carrier: ATT. Location DALLAS, TX

    • db says

      I have the same exact issue when on my shoulder. I’m with ATT as well. This only happens when on my shoulder at random times. Did you find any solution?

  27. Alec says

    My Sprint HTC One behaves in the exact same way on the video. People keep telling me that I am cutting on when talking and it is extremely annoying. Unfortunately I am out of the exchange period so I hope this problem gets fixed or acknowledged asap.

  28. Jade says

    We have this problem as well, both in California and in Hawaii. We can go from excellent reception and back again when we switch the phone from our hands to our shoulders and back to our hands. Disappointing.

  29. Susan says

    Have htc one with AT&T and experience many frustrating signal issues. Have had mototolas in the past with not problems in the same locations. Extremely low to no signal when everyone around me is fine and very frequent data connection issues. I am sorry to have changed to both htc and AT&T

  30. Evan says

    Also have ATT silver version and experiencing call issues. Signal will be fine but everyone I talk to says I break up constantly. They always say they can’t hear me but when I look at signal its perfect. Live outside Detroit.

  31. Eddie T says

    I have problems with my HTC One from Sprint. I receive texts 2-6 hours after they are sent. My date goes in and out any time it pleases. My sim card is sometimes undetected. My data takes a few minutes to connect when I surface from underground. In May, I switched from Verizon to Sprint just for this phone. I am seriously regretting either or both.

  32. Jade says

    It makes me absolutely crazy that there’s been no response from HTC on this. I’ve noticed that anytime I put the phone on my shoulder (I usually do that if I need to talk and type at the same time) that my signal goes completely to hell.

  33. Robert says

    I have a Sprint model with an Otterbox commuter cover and I don’t have this problem.
    The phone is so sleek and thin you really need a cover to hold on to it.
    Also protects screen & camera lens.

  34. lisa says

    I live in north Texas. I have HTC one on tmobile. I have hardly no reception. Tmobile keeps telling me to swap my internet to 3g. What’s the use in having thuis phone if I’m only running 3g? My daughter has a older phone and hers has no problem connecting. It’s a bunch of crap

  35. improvementforever says

    I’m so disapointed in HTC. I wanted this phone to work. Even bragged to my friends that their phone was a cheap piece of plastic. Guess I’ll be going to that cheap piece of plastic. At least it can send text messages and not drop calls every other 10 miles.

  36. biurni says

    hi. or who can help me. I have a sprint htc one. I want to use in Albania which uses GSM and 3G network. but when i put sim card. there is no bar antenna. and having an x ‚Äč‚Äčabove. phone is s-on and locked. when I want to unlock the IMEI * # 06 # IMEI not displayed. and do not require network code

  37. Isaiah Crowell says

    I work for sprint Corp and Ijust purchased an HTC one last week comming from a note 2 .I have ful bars of 4g on my note 2 were I live and at work but my HTC one is stuck in 3 g and if I go out side I get 1 bar barley of 4g I contacted HTC and they blamed it on 4.3 stating that it shows they true 4g signal strength when previous updates were showing call signal but with 4g symbol .that is bull I told them because I work with these phones all day and other branded phones that show extensively higher bars and data rate .I love the phone but cant deal with this week signal .

  38. Diana Thiel says

    I have the HTC One on Sprint here in Ky. It has had very poor reception since I purchased it 7 months ago. When I’m on break at work, everyone else is on their phones (games,facebook, etc) me, I’m holding my HTC One up in the air praying to the reception gods for service!!! Now 2 nights ago there was a software update (Android 4.4.2) hoping this would help I updated my phone….WRONG while the mobile network has imprived now my phone will not connect to wifi, it keeps scanning and trying with no results. Sprint costumer service tried to figure it out again no results. So now I’m stuck with this

  39. Barbara says

    I thought it was me so I decided to search for this exact issue with my Sprint HTC One. I’m glad I found this thread and very glad the problem is not me. I’ve had this HTC One for a little over a year and while it’s a beautiful looking phone, it is not worth these constant signal issues. I lose connection everywhere and forget about searching for anything on the internet. It’s totally unrealiable and I’m in NYC. One particularly frustrating time was when I was in Rochester NY right outside a Sprint store and I had NO reception, my sons with their Sprint Samsung Galaxy II’s had reception and my huband on Verizon had reception. How could it be that I had a better phone than all of them and I was the one with no reception?? It’s a constant thing with this phone. There is truly something wrong with this phone.

  40. Tom P says

    I live in the greater Phoenix AZ area and have an HTC One on the Verizon network. Reception is awful in my house with only 1 bar at 3G speeds when downstairs and only 2 bars at 4G. Receptions is not much better outside either. This is suppose to be a 4G LTE phone. I had an iPhone 5 on AT&T network and always he 4 or 5 bars and full 4G LTE speed at home and around town. Not sure if this is an HTC One issue, or a problem with Verizon coverage in my area. Whatever it is, I am not happy with my new HTC One on Verizon.

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