On Way to Verizon, iPhone May Have Been Freed from 'Death Grip'
CREDIT: Apple Inc
In bringing its best-selling iPhone 4 to the Verizon network, Apple has apparently tweaked the hardware to dispel the "death grip" problem that marred the rollout of the smartphone on the AT&T network this past summer.
So many complaints emerged about the iPhone 4 losing reception when it was held a certain way that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs eventually held a press conference and offered to give away free bumper cases .
This time around, things may be different. Although Apple wasn't saying anything at its announcement event today (Jan. 11) in Manhattan about how it might have fixed the problem, putting the iPhone on the Verizon network required Apple to swap out some of the phone's guts. Verizon is one of two major U.S. carriers to use a CDMA-based network (AT&T uses the more popular GSM standard), so Apple had to change over to CDMA chips inside.
The switch also afforded Apple the opportunity to rejigger the phone's much-ballyhooed antenna.
The original AT&T iPhone 4 has three notches on its wrap-around bezel, which innovatively doubles as the antenna. (Most cell phones have their antennas on the inside.) A notch, or antenna gap, appears at each bottom side corner of the metal bezel and at the middle of the top of the phone.
On the new Verizon model, there are a total of four notches, with one appearing in each corner. Adding another notch would hardly seem to solve the problem of the "death grip," which occurs on the AT&T version when the user's hand bridges the lower-left notch.
But as reported by the blog SlashGear, holding the Verizon version in death grippy-fashion at the site of the announcement event in Midtown Manhattan today did not produce a drop in signal bar strength, and neither did covering the new notches.
The Verizon iPhone will be in customers' hands early next month, and the real test will come when they operate the phones in regions with poor reception, unlike the event space Verizon chose for its product launch.