How Bad Is the iPhone 4's Antenna Problem?

Antenna designer and IEEE member Spencer Webb tests the device

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Users of Apple’s new iPhone 4 have reported that the phone loses reception when you hold it a certain way. Attempts to quantify the extent of the defect have only fueled the controversy. So how do you test a cellphone antenna? Do you really need an anechoic chamber, like one of the 17 Apple reportedly owns? What’s wrong with testing the phone in a “radio-frequency isolation chamber,” as Consumer Reports did? Host Steven Cherry interviews Spencer Webb, antenna designer and president of AntennaSys, about his own tests for the iPhone 4 and the challenges of getting quantitative results.

This article was updated on 22 July 2010.