All Things Tarun

  • 12:36:42 am on July 6, 2010 | 2
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    I decided to put Apple’s recent claim to the test and see if the iPhone 4 really was “faking” the bars and that reception was unaffected by human interaction (holding the phone). Here are some facts:

    • I tested in two locations. One was in my basement. This is where my wireless router is and where you would typically see poor reception (this could be debated, but let’s assume that reception under walls and further away from the sky has poor reception)
    • I tested at three time points: 10:30 am, 5:30 pm, 1:30 am. The theory is that if you average the three time points, a more accurate picture as to whether or not the iPhone reception is affected is given, as “traffic high points” are an irrelevant excuse. However, this test could use even more alternate locations, rather than my own home. But, in my city, we have decent (5-6 mbps) reception. So, I believe the “weak area” excuse doesn’t apply.
    • There are five different test types that were used:
      1) No bumper, wifi on (our control)
      2) No bumper, awkwardly held (three fingers or two fingers on the outside, not touching the gaped areas)
      3) No bumper,  death grip hold (entire palm cusps bottom of phone, but naturally like one would hold a cell phone)
      4) No bumper, gap bridged (the notorius left side gap is covered by my finger, as is the other side’s gap for good measure)
      5) Bumper on, held normally

    This means that I did not test it on a table. Why? Because who makes a phone call or receives a phone call without holding the phone? I believe if we are going to test this, we need to be practical about it.

    First, I look at the average statistics based on hold type. The download, upload (kb/s) and latency (ms) were averaged across all three time points and two locations:

    This chart shows a few major things:

    • The bumper case overall does improve speeds, but only significantly in the case of where someone is “bridging” the gap between the side iPhone antennae. Since bridging happens often when gripping the phone, this shows that a bumper is a useful accessory to have for those experiencing latency issues.
    • Latency seems to dramatically increase or decrease depending on the hold type. Note how it has a gradual tendency to get worse as more of the iPhone is covered or the key area on the left side is covered.
    • Upload speeds are generally low but are also effected at an even greater relative percentage, particularly when comparing gripped vs. non-gripped.

    Next, here is a chart based on bar type. I used ranges for bar sizes since fluctuation between 1-2 bars or 2-3 bars happens frequently. Again, average statistics are shown across all time points and locations:

    Here we can notice that overall, bar size seems to be uncorrelated with any speed statistic except latency. Latency seems to improve over time. Download speeds compared from 4-5 vs. 1-2 bars are mostly equal and do not indicate “better” reception.

    The latency correlations in both graphs show that reception can be altered in a meaningful way depending on how the device is held, and how the device is held can affect the bar size. However, bar size is a poor indicator of how the phone is in the download and upload speeds, so Apple is somewhat correct in asserting that their algorithm is incorrect. But, this still doesn’t explain how different holds can affect the bandwidth of the device.

    Further testing should look at different days and other locations for a larger sample size, but a proof of concept exists here.



  • Consumer Reports « All Things Tarun 12:16 pm on July 12, 2010 | # | Reply

    […] it is truly a non-issue with the bumper. My previous post outlines this issue in painstaking detail and the only significant decrease in bandwidth is found in upload speeds…and this may due to […]

  • iPhone Metal « All Things Tarun 12:47 am on November 13, 2010 | # | Reply

    […] I foresee there being no extra issues than the ones that already exist (with the gripping). The bumper did seem to help with this issue, but the help wasn’t so great. I’ll try Jobs’ prescription: “Don’t hold it that […]

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