Could reception issues be from imperfect stainless steel?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Fernandez21, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

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    Jun 16, 2010
    #1
    My iPhone 4 loses all reception when I touch its naughty place, however this isn't a universal problem. Yes others have experienced this as well, however other people only get a slight loss in reception while others don't get any reception loss at all. We have yet to figure out any pattern, whether my model number, build week, factory, or even location (there have been people who tested 2 iPhones side by side in the same location and one showed worse reception than the other).

    Some speculate design, but apple is full of smart engineers, much smarter than you or I, so I think if the design would be the issue it would have been caught in the testing stages. But what if the problem isn't the design, but the stainless steel used to make the antenna?

    Back when apple announced the iPhone, they said they had to invent a new kind of stainless steel to use as the antenna. My guess is that this new stainless steel was invented with the specific purpose of not being capacitive so that even when you touch it there would be no interference with the signal.

    What if the formula for this new stainless steel is susceptible to imperfections, and what if those imperfections are what’s causing all this reception ruckus? It would explain why some people have no problems at all (perfect stainless steel), why some only lose a couple of bars (some imperfections), and for others it craps out completely (imperfect stainless steel).

    This would also explain apple's stance, as the design of the phone is fine and why apple never had any problems during testing and why it could be difficult for them to find now. It would explain why it seems completely random why some people have problems while others don't.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. -aggie- macrumors P6

    -aggie-

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    #2
    First, where did you hear this?

     
  3. Fernandez21 thread starter macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

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    Jun 16, 2010
    #3
    http://www.apple.com/iphone/design/

    If you scroll down where it talks about the band, it says it was "created from our own alloy", and if you watch the promotional video at the top, Jony Ive talks about how they "developed an entirely new grade of stainless steel", he starts talking about it at the 4:47 mark.
     
  4. -aggie- macrumors P6

    -aggie-

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    #4
    I can see the steel’s strength being changed by a different alloy (although I question how Apple became an expert in steel), but changing the capacitive properties sounds far-fetched and the steel having enough differences to mean one iPhone would work and another not even more so. Maybe someone knows more about this?
     
  5. br0adband macrumors 6502a

    br0adband

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    Aug 29, 2006
    #5
    It's a metal, regardless of whatever Apple claims about it, it's conductive, and skin-on-metal contact will degrade the signal and heighten the attenuation more than ever before since all other cell phones "hide" the actual antennas inside the cases or, as in the "old days" the antennas either retracted into the phone or were coated with rubber, etc.

    As I've stated before and so have others (including noted actual real-life antenna design engineers): allowing direct skin contact with any antenna is going to muck things up, and in this case the split-design (one antenna for Wi-Fi/GPS/Bluetooth and one for UMTS/GSM stuff) offers the potential for bridging them and ruining things even more so.

    There's a reason antennas are kept either a) out of reach (inside the phones under plastic/metal housings) or b) coated with a non-conductive material (almost always some rubber or a variant of it) so direct skin contact is simply not possible.

    Why Apple thinks they can rewrite the laws of physics is beyond me but, I suppose sooner or later they'd have to give it a shot. So far, it's not working out nearly as well as I'm sure they'd planned.
     
  6. Torq macrumors regular

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    Jun 8, 2009
    #6
    Any time you change the formulation of any alloy you'll change its physical, electrical and thermal properties, including resistance and capacitance.

    Normal lot-to-lot variance in the same alloy will have negligible effective variation in resistance or capacitance however. In fact, short of an absolutely collosal screw up, say adding Indium or Gallium instead of Chromium, the differences are functionally meaningless (apart from to the poor bastard that had to foot the bill!). Surface area would have a much bigger effect than a minor change in composition.

    And metallurgists, chemists and general materials specialists are not that hard to come by. Most companies routinely contract out work that lies outside their core competencies.

    In short, the chances of this being even vaguely part of the issue are essentially non-existent.

    Hell, variation in transistor gain and noise would, for example, dwarf such effects, and that's given just two transistors fabricated as neighbours on a common substrate, let alone an entire circuits worth.
     
  7. Tom G. macrumors 68000

    Tom G.

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    #7
    Which is why a case or bumpers works so well that it turns a possible issue into a non-issue.

    All cell phones belong in cases to keep them looking nice. I've never had any cell phone that I didn't put in a case, and when the time came to pass them on they looked as good as when I got them.
     
  8. Torq macrumors regular

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    #8
    You don't need to re-write the laws of physics to account for changes in the effective length of an antenna (which is what detuning is).

    The real question is, given an exposed antenna (which IS more susceptible to such effects than one that is electrically isolated), is the compensatory circuit a) sufficiently broad in its capacity to handle the degree of change involved here and b) is it software controlled or a simple analog feedback circuit.

    If it's software controlled AND has sufficient compensatory capacity then a purely software fix is possible. Those are, of course, two rather large "IF"s.
     
  9. -aggie- macrumors P6

    -aggie-

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    #9
    You said what I said in a lot more words and prettier.:)

    Let’s not get off-topic, okay? The thread is about whether the steel would have something to do with the antenna/reception issues, not a rehash of whether this is an issue or a non-issue.
     
  10. AbSoluTc macrumors 601

    AbSoluTc

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    Sep 21, 2008
    #10
    ... and everyone should drive a Ford.


    See how ridiculous it sounds? Yeah, I know. Sorry but not EVERYONE wants their phone in a case. It might work for YOU but it's not something I want. If you have to ADD something AFTERMARKET to make something you bought that was advertised to work - it's not a solution. It's a band-aid.
     

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