Independent tests carried out by PA Consulting Group have confirmed that Apple's iPhone 4 is more affected by the 'death grip' antenna problem than any other smartphone on the market.
PA Consulting noted that the BlackBerry 9700 and HTC HD2 are also affected by the signal reduction issue, but that the iPhone 4 consistently turned in the worst performance of all the affected devices.
"Our tests indicate that the 'death grip' issue is real, and is worse for the Apple iPhone 4 than for other smartphones," said Simon Tonks, the consultant who led the testing at PA Consulting's technology centre in Cambridge.
"The iPhone 4's radio performance was also found to be generally at the lower end. This means it will tend to drop calls earlier than other phones, and may suffer more in areas of weak signal."
However, Tonks pointed out that the iPhone 4 performance levels are not widely dissimilar to other products in this area. "Overall, it's still within the normal performance range for similar products," he said.
Figures published on the PA Consulting web site provide a more detailed breakdown of the results achieved in the tests, showing that the iPhone 4 loses an average 46.4dBm (decibels per milliwatt), compared to 42.8dBm for the BlackBerry 9700 and 39.8dBm for the HTC HD2.
Dr Phil White, head of the wireless technology team at PA Consulting, backed the view of many observers that Apple had elevated design over functionality.
"Apple is prepared to take risks and push the boundaries of product design, but that means striking a balance between incorporating the most innovative features and ensuring that the product works effectively," he said.
Apple issued a 'fix' for the problem earlier this month by offering all customers a free plastic case, claiming that the 'death grip' affects all mobile phones. This assertion was strenuously denied by other manufacturers.
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