Saturday, June 26, 2010

iPhone4 Problems: Users Need an "iGlove" to Get Reception

Apple's (AAPL) new iPhone4 was launched with the usual Apple marketing blitz and Apple fans went nuts to buy one. However, it was not long afterwards that problem started being reported. it appears there are significant reception problems and they are due t the way people hold the phones. Their hands block reception. Some are suggesting an iGlove to solve the problem.

An explanation comes from AntennaSys a company that has expertise in antenna design. This is their explanation, (typos corrected) in which they appear to blame the FCC (!). Obviously it is not the FCC's responsibility for the iPhone's flaws, but the article explains the technicalities:

"The FCC puts strict limits on the amount of energy from a handheld device that may be absorbed by the body. We call this Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR. In the olden days, when I walked ten miles to school in three feet of snow, uphill in both directions, cell phones had pull-up antennas. This allowed the designer to use a half-wave antenna variant, and put the point of maximum radiation somewhat away from the user’s cranium. Of course, most people did not think it was necessary and kept the antenna stowed. Motorola’s flip phone acutely had a second helical antenna that was switched into place when this was the case. But, more importantly, SAR rules were not yet in effect.

Flip phones became yesterday’s style, and phones were becoming more monolithic. Some phones, like the early Treo, kept the antenna in the traditional location at the top of the phone, near one edge, but reduced it to a short stub. Whips became stubs, stubs became bumps, and finally antennas were embedded into the rectangular volume of the phone. The trouble was SAR; if you left the antenna at the top, the user was now pressing it into their head, insuring lots of tissue heating. Enter the bottom-located cellphone antenna.

Just about every cell phone in current production has the antenna located at the bottom. This insures that the radiating portion of the antenna is furthest from the head. Apple was not the first to locate the antenna on the bottom, and certainly won’t be the last. The problem is that humans have their hands below their ears, so the most natural position for the hand is covering the antenna".

The rest goes on blaming the FCC, which is ludicrous.

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