Of course, we couldn't sit around waiting for someone else to test the iPhone 4 in a more controlled way, so we actually asked our good friend Erica Sadun from TUAW to write us a bespoke signal strength app for iOS 4. Obviously we couldn't submit it to the App Store, but we've been running it on all of our phones here at Engadget and we can independently confirm Consumer Reports' finding that there's a serious signal attenuation issue with the iPhone 4's antenna -- every phone we've tested displays dropped signal when held with the bottom left corner covered. Now, what we don't know is whether that signal attenuation consistently affects call quality and data rates, which we suspect is more directly related to the network in the area; some of our iPhone 4s drop calls and experience low data rates with alarming frequency, while others -- like our review unit -- have almost never dropped a call and have had no data problems. However, now that we've confirmed and clarified that the antenna issue affects every iPhone 4, we can take on the next step, which is sorting out exactly when and where the issue is most severe. Either that, or Apple can do something to actually fix the issue -- we'll just have to wait and see. For now, check our app in action after the break.
Update: To clarify, "here at Engadget" is a virtual location -- our iPhone 4s are actually located across the country in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and we saw the app respond that way regardless of location. Dropped calls and other effects weren't as consistent, however, and we're still testing to sort out when the effects of the antenna issue are the most severe.
Follow the Saga
Mar 29th 2012 6:55AM
Feb 17th 2012 10:54PM
Consumer Reports finds iPhone 4S to have worthwhile antennas, says newer iPhone 4 is still problematic
Nov 8th 2011 9:59AM