A team of scientists has gathered tangible evidence to prove that the so-called “death grip” that has plagued some of the most cutting edge smartphones in recent times, including the mighty iPhone, is no myth.
Research conducted at the Centre for Communications Research (CCR) at the University of Bristol has revealed that the unusual phenomena of a smartphone losing its reception just by the way it’s held is very much real and can also occur based on the position, orientation and movement of the phone.
The findings from a study titled ‘Slot Antenna Performance and Signal Quality in a Smartphone Prototype’ in which researchers mimicked the death grip using a prototype smartphone being gripped by a thumb created from “phantom material” show that there is a staggering 100-fold reduction in sensitivity, causing the phone to dramatically drop its network signal.
Professor Mark Beach, one of the leading researchers at the centre, said: “Antenna position and user grip on smartphones may lead to obstruction of radio signal paths and antenna detuning.”
Although this particular study does not evaluate antennas' use in the iPhone 4, Beach explains that plastic cases in general do very little to alleviate the problem because the gap between a plastic case and a hard metal has negligible effect in restoring the operational sensitivity of the receivers.
So there you have it: cold hard science categorically proves that there’s a genuine disadvantage to the increasingly radical, albeit, innovative, smartphone designs of late. Here’s hoping Apple has learnt its lesson from the ‘Antennagate’ PR disaster in its imminent refresh of the iPhone.