Apple's bumper case improves antenna performance

Apple's bumper has caused a lot of commotion across the Internet. Some suspect that Apple knew of its antenna issue and that's why they developed the case, while others scoff at the absurdly high MSRP. No matter what your thoughts on the bumper case are, Neowin has learned that the case actually improves the antenna performance on the iPhone 4.   

The picture above shows the iPhone without the bumper case (left) and with the bumper case (right), for reference, compare the "Tot. Rad. Pwr." and larger numbers are better.  

The right side of the picture shows 28 dBm across all three benchmarks which outperforms the naked iPhone. While not a significant increase, it does show a minor improvement when compared to the naked iPhone.  

The bumper case improving reception comes in stark contrast to the Vapor 4 case that reduced the iPhones antenna performance by 99%. What can be learned from this case testing is that attaching a case to your device can drastically affect how your cell phone will perform for better and for worse. 

A special thanks to our friends at ETS Lindgren for helping us out with testing of various devices in their anechoic chambers.  

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My Droid X also works perfectly - anywhere - anytime - daylight or nightlight - right hand or left hand, bluetooth or not - headset or handsfree - case or no case - small hands or large hands. Heck it even works great whether I am fully clothed or naked.

But the iPhone 4 sure is purrrrrrrrty.

Face it Apple fanboys, Jobs just couldn't back off of getting it out in June - he just HAD to have it out for that "once a year" crap. Apple is great when it comes to innovation but sometimes Jobs' ego really comes shining through.

What really irks me about it all is that he should have just come out and said it was messed up. "Sorry everyone -- we messed up but we will MAKE IT RIGHT, no matter what the cost." Instead he insults the intelligence of just about every person on the planet with his "Yer not 'oldin' 'er kerrectly, h'yuck."

Ok, this is like the dumbest thing I ever heard. It has been proven that a bumper improves antenna performance. Why they are giving the damn things away.

NEws outlets trying to milk this a little bit more?!?!?!

Glendi said,
It seems everybody here has updated to Apple's magical patch.

Everyone admitted the problem existed before. Now you get all these zombies on that are like 'Oh I don't get to to zero bars anymore' and actually think there's no problem. Magic. Only with Apple.

A patch that solved a hardware problem.

Sacha said,

Everyone admitted the problem existed before. Now you get all these zombies on that are like 'Oh I don't get to to zero bars anymore' and actually think there's no problem. Magic. Only with Apple.

A patch that solved a hardware problem.

The patch decreased the bars to show the correct connection to the tower, it didn't make it look better on Apples part, soooooo what are you on about exactly?

offroadaaron said,

Same here, I think its just America's crappy network

Exactly what I said earlier. Overblown problem. Confined to the US/AT&T.

tanjiajun_34 said,

Other phones have that problem too?

Did you see the presentation that Steve jobs did, showed that almost all phones do this, people just like to go nuts about Apple stuff on this forum, people are turning into little bitches complaining if something isn't perfect.

Jared- said,
No problems here in Australia! Works a treat...

Not quite, I happen to manage a store for a telco and we actively discourage the purchase via the one finger signal degradation demonstration. This benefits us too as there's no profit in iPhones. I'd be surprised if other networks don't have the issue as it goes from 4 bars to minimum in under 15 seconds. Latest software installed of course

jesseinsf said,
Plus the software update makes the bars respond much slower to the actual signal.

bingo, apple patched the software to mask the real problem. The iPhone4 still drops calls, with full bars. Why? Because despite what is shown on the screen the signal strength is mediocre at best.

bpfoley said,

bingo, apple patched the software to mask the real problem. The iPhone4 still drops calls, with full bars. Why? Because despite what is shown on the screen the signal strength is mediocre at best.

Except if you ask most people who have one, it doesn't drop

andrewbares said,

And then if you ask people who do have one, it does drop.

Do you even read the comments before replying?

andrewbares said,

And then if you ask people who do have one, it does drop.

What dropped calls? I hold my iPhone 4 left handed while making calls most of the time. It's a carrier problem at best for having poor signal quality, I'm not denying that there is an issue with the antenna, but I'm going from experience with my carrier and I have no antenna issues.

jesseinsf said,
Plus the software update makes the bars respond much slower to the actual signal.

That's untrue. They made the bars more realistic (if you were in a poor signal area before you might have had 5 bars, now you'd had 2 bars). So any drops in signal are now more realistic - if you drop to 0 bars you still get 0 bars though and just as quick as you would before they made the change.

That being said I have 5 bars most of the time even after this "patch" so I'm obviously in a good signal area, and I've had no problems whatsoever with my iPhone. IAttenagate was blown out of proportion because of the US's crappy coverage. I can get it to drop a bar or two if I squeeze it really hard in an unrealistic holding grip, but I could also get my mates Desire to drop bars by squeezing the back of his phone.

jesseinsf said,
Plus the software update makes the bars respond much slower to the actual signal.

Erm no, before it exaggerated the signal, now it shows an actual representation.

You guys must have small hands. just take a key and make the key touch both sides of the gap where the antenna is and keep it in contact for 30 or more seconds.

jesseinsf said,
You guys must have small hands. just take a key and make the key touch both sides of the gap where the antenna is and keep it in contact for 30 or more seconds.

Why on earth would anyone do that in a real situation?

This is why Neowin is going downhill.

saxondale. said,

Why on earth would anyone do that in a real situation?

This is why Neowin is going downhill.

Because some people use the phone left handed? Your logic is going downhill.

andrewbares said,

Because some people use the phone left handed? Your logic is going downhill.

And you've chosen to ignore the comments of people on here that say they use it left-handed all the time with no dropped calls and no problem.

Elliott said,
And you've chosen to ignore the comments of people on here that say they use it left-handed all the time with no dropped calls and no problem.

Not everyone will face this issue. In layman's terms, some will, some will not.

So stop being so pugnacious.

andrewbares said,

Because some people use the phone left handed? Your logic is going downhill.

How is holding it left handed the same as placing a key across it for 30 seconds?

nevann said,
How is holding it left handed the same as placing a key across it for 30 seconds?
While a human hand is not as conductive as a metal key, it is conductive. (The key just makes the effect extreme)

Kirkburn said,
While a human hand is not as conductive as a metal key, it is conductive. (The key just makes the effect extreme)

Perhaps, but according to Andrewbares, left handed people will place a key across the antenna in a real life scenario. I'm left handed and I'm pretty sure I won't be placing keys across my phone whilst trying to call someone

nevann said,

Perhaps, but according to Andrewbares, left handed people will place a key across the antenna in a real life scenario. I'm left handed and I'm pretty sure I won't be placing keys across my phone whilst trying to call someone

Geez. The key is your hand silly. Less conductive than a key but just to show that there is a problem. Apple's recent patch hides that you are losing bars. Try downloading something and watch the download speed fluctuate depending on where you place your hand.

Sacha said,

Geez. The key is your hand silly. Less conductive than a key but just to show that there is a problem.

Using extreme examples like a key is a stupid way to get a point across but. You may as well ask them to throw the phone under water and claim theres issues when it gets slightly moist too. If the problem is holding the phone causes problems then tell people to hold the phone, don't ask them to go out of the way to exaggerate the issue by using keys or other conductive objects.

nevann said,

Perhaps, but according to Andrewbares, left handed people will place a key across the antenna in a real life scenario. I'm left handed and I'm pretty sure I won't be placing keys across my phone whilst trying to call someone

You need to work on your reading comprehension and critical thinking skills, sir.

yea i can say the same I have tried with case and without and nothing changes much no dropped calls etc yes dropped bars but that could be a low service area and I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada so surely there is no issue .. Its the provider that has the poor coverage and signal strength.. cause no many in Canada reporting reception or dropped calls on iphone's

Xypro said,
Apple oh Apple, what will we do with you? ahh screw it WP7 all the way

Yeah, I'm sure WP7 will be go off w/out a hitch.

(Ug, did I really just say that?)

einsteinbqat said,
I'm an still sure that this story got overblown and strictly confined to the US AT&T users.
Thats almost a guarantee cause we all know how they like to blow things out of proportion down there.. And before anyone says, yes I own an iPhone 4, used it naked and never had a dropped call or antenna issues and I hold my phone in my left hand most of the time.

Neither does my iPhone 4. Never had a problem, I've never cared how I've held it and I've never had a dropped call or anything other problem with it.

REM2000 said,
Neither does my iPhone 4. Never had a problem, I've never cared how I've held it and I've never had a dropped call or anything other problem with it.
Me neither.

REM2000 said,
Neither does my iPhone 4. Never had a problem, I've never cared how I've held it and I've never had a dropped call or anything other problem with it.

and me neither... but some people will always hate just to hate

I'd like to know what the iPhone 4 performance is like against other phones.
As I've heard it is better than most, except if your holding it wrong of course.

scorpio_on_blue_moon said,
So I am supposed to buy the *BUMPER* to use the device which is a *PHONE*. No other phone in the world needs such addition !!!

If you wasnt here just to hate and actually read some comments here or in any other iPhone 4 related news you would know that a lot of people have no problems whatsoever...

I live in a 1-2 bar area and not a single problem...

Leonick said,

If you wasnt here just to hate and actually read some comments here or in any other iPhone 4 related news you would know that a lot of people have no problems whatsoever...

I live in a 1-2 bar area and not a single problem...


Well most or all phones don't have dropped calls at all =)

bmaher said,
The only complaining/kicking up a fuss are those who don't own iPhone 4s

Um, no. Just use the magic of Google to see the horde of complaints from iPhone 4 owners on Apple's own forums.

I know, my friend has an iPhone 4 and he can't reproduce the death grip at all, I tried holding it in every possible way, covering it with both hands, and it still had full bars. Granted this was up here in Canada on the Rogers network, maybe AT&T is at fault with their terrible network.

shiny_red_cobra said,
I know, my friend has an iPhone 4 and he can't reproduce the death grip at all, I tried holding it in every possible way, covering it with both hands, and it still had full bars. Granted this was up here in Canada on the Rogers network, maybe AT&T is at fault with their terrible network.

Untrue. Every phone (xphone, blueberry, anclroid, included) suffers signal degradation when held in certain ways. The claim by you and your friend that he/she (or it) or both of u had no signal degradation when obstructing signal by covering the phone by "anything" is thus untrue.

Likely because you were too close to a base station to notice any "significant" signal loss at that time?

Well, believe it or not, we were in my friend's house, so indoors, and my phone did not have full bars, and funny enough the iphone 4 had better signal than my phone, when I was holding it. Well, it lost a bar or two, but it didn't lose signal completely as shown in all those youtube videos. It's not really a "claim", it's a fact, this is what actually happened...

shiny_red_cobra said,
Well, believe it or not, we were in my friend's house, so indoors, and my phone did not have full bars, and funny enough the iphone 4 had better signal than my phone, when I was holding it. Well, it lost a bar or two, but it didn't lose signal completely as shown in all those youtube videos. It's not really a "claim", it's a fact, this is what actually happened...

A bar or two is what the death grip is.

shiny_red_cobra said,
My blackberry doesn't need a case to function properly.

My Canadian iPhone 4 doesn't need a case either. I'm on Telus, few friends on Bell, few more on Rogers. None of us have problems. AT&T awesomeness strikes again.

shiny_red_cobra said,
I know, my friend has an iPhone 4 and he can't reproduce the death grip at all, I tried holding it in every possible way, covering it with both hands, and it still had full bars. Granted this was up here in Canada on the Rogers network, maybe AT&T is at fault with their terrible network.

Canada>USA

shiny_red_cobra said,
Well, believe it or not, we were in my friend's house, so indoors, and my phone did not have full bars, and funny enough the iphone 4 had better signal than my phone, when I was holding it. Well, it lost a bar or two, but it didn't lose signal completely as shown in all those youtube videos. It's not really a "claim", it's a fact, this is what actually happened...

It didn't have full bars, you held it and it lost two bars? That IS the death grip! you know Apple put out a patch that made it show a bar or two instead of no bars when there is low signal right?

Try downloading something and watch the download speed drop to something abysmal.

Sacha said,

It didn't have full bars, you held it and it lost two bars? That IS the death grip! you know Apple put out a patch that made it show a bar or two instead of no bars when there is low signal right?

Try downloading something and watch the download speed drop to something abysmal.

The exact same thing happens with my nokia e72. Sometimes it even drops 3G entirely.

shiny_red_cobra said,
Well, believe it or not, we were in my friend's house, so indoors, and my phone did not have full bars, and funny enough the iphone 4 had better signal than my phone, when I was holding it. Well, it lost a bar or two, but it didn't lose signal completely as shown in all those youtube videos. It's not really a "claim", it's a fact, this is what actually happened...

A bar or two? Now imagine you only had a bar or two reception.

Drop. Bingo. Deathgrip. Some people live in bubbles...

shiny_red_cobra said,
I know, my friend has an iPhone 4 and he can't reproduce the death grip at all, I tried holding it in every possible way, covering it with both hands, and it still had full bars. Granted this was up here in Canada on the Rogers network, maybe AT&T is at fault with their terrible network.

As much as I like to make fun of the iPhone 4, I can't reproduce it either.

ascendant123 said,

A bar or two? Now imagine you only had a bar or two reception.

Drop. Bingo. Deathgrip. Some people live in bubbles...


yes, but iphone didnt have one or two bars when the death grip was performed. it has full bar and it went to 0 . but with other phones it will go down just 2 bars.

Edited by still1, Sep 12 2010, 5:18pm :

Yakuzing said,

A bar or two is what the death grip is.

no. not true. when the bar goes to nothing is what a death grip is.

still1 said,

no. not true. when the bar goes to nothing is what a death grip is.

As mentioned above, Apple patched the software to "address" this...ahem.

You're still losing a ton of signal, so when you are in 1-3 bar areas, just holding your phone in a very normal way can drop you off the grid entirely.