Dock/Cable is an antenna?

stomachdoc

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 28, 2004
54
0
Outside of Boston
I have very poor-if any-ATT reception in my house. However, when I have my iPhone docked, all of a sudden I have 4 or 5 bars. Initially I thought this was a just a default display when docked, but the service actually works, and quite well, when docked.

Anyone else experience this? Does the USB cable act as an antenna somehow?
 

ecks618

macrumors 6502
Jun 1, 2006
397
0
NYC
I think whats going on is the same thing if you use a mp3 player that has radio on it and it gets a better reception if you straighten the headphone cord. Maybe its just helping you pick up a better signal, but I doubt its meant to act like a signal booster.
 

gr8tfly

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2006
5,298
48
~119W 34N
Most likely your body is no longer degrading the signal. When you hold a cell phone, the signals can't go through your body. Even if you're not actually between the phone and cell site, just being in the vicinity of the phone's antenna (ie holding it), can affect the signal.

Edit: no, the cable isn't part of the antenna
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
Wouldn't it be because while you are holding it the radio is facing downward, but when it is sitting in the dock the radio is able to push horizontally?
 

Malamutt

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2007
103
0
I have very poor-if any-ATT reception in my house. However, when I have my iPhone docked, all of a sudden I have 4 or 5 bars. Initially I thought this was a just a default display when docked, but the service actually works, and quite well, when docked.

Anyone else experience this? Does the USB cable act as an antenna somehow?
Someone I work with has had the same experience. In a location that he gets no reception at when he puts it in the docking station he gets 2 - 3 bars and the phone works.

So not the first time I have heard of this but would be curious to know how it's happening.
 

gr8tfly

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2006
5,298
48
~119W 34N
Wouldn't it be because while you are holding it the radio is facing downward, but when it is sitting in the dock the radio is able to push horizontally?
No, the antenna is pretty much omnidirectional. The main difference is your body's effect. (although, there are other materials which will block RF, too)

I've always been pretty amazed at how well (?) they (cell phones in general) work when used up against your face. I have noticed some improvement, though, in phones that have antenna in the bottom (like the iPhone), which generally put it farther away from your face (it usually angles away at the mouthpiece).

edit: you probably will realize the same improvement if you are using a headset, and lay the phone down away from you (for instance, on the armrest of your chair). The signal at my home can be a bit flakey at times, so if I'm on my BT headset and put the phone in a "sweet spot", everything's fine. Note to iPhone fans: This probably isn't saying much, but the iPhone is MUCH less sensitive to low signal levels than my RAZR was. I haven't needed to worry about where I place it.
 

poppe

macrumors 68020
Apr 29, 2006
2,199
32
Woodland Hills
No, the antenna is pretty much omnidirectional. The main difference is your body's effect. (although, there are other materials which will block RF, too)

I've always been pretty amazed at how well (?) they (cell phones in general) work when used up against your face. I have noticed some improvement, though, in phones that have antenna in the bottom (like the iPhone), which generally put it farther away from your face (it usually angles away at the mouthpiece).

edit: you probably will realize the same improvement if you are using a headset, and lay the phone down away from you (for instance, on the armrest of your chair). The signal at my home can be a bit flakey at times, so if I'm on my BT headset and put the phone in a "sweet spot", everything's fine. Note to iPhone fans: This probably isn't saying much, but the iPhone is MUCH less sensitive to low signal levels than my RAZR was. I haven't needed to worry about where I place it.
Very interesting...
 

mrtune

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2007
803
20
Mine is the same way. I get full bar in my room on the dock, otherwise it's 1-2 only. I usually have to run out the room when answering calls so i don't drop them. Never even thought of using my bluetooth while at home! Good tip :).
 

ChandlerXJ

macrumors member
Jul 3, 2007
67
0
too bad my incase i got doesn't let you dock it unless you take it off, and i don't feel like stretching it off every night when i dock the sucker
 

Kev1000000

macrumors member
Jul 1, 2007
77
0
I actually think its because it can push the radio to full power because you are no longer using the battery to run the iPhone.
 

NemoMac

macrumors member
Jul 10, 2007
33
0
You know, my father got one of those "Universal Docks" from Belkin for his iPod with different inserts to help hold your device in place that fit around the actual docking interface. I will have to see if my iPod with DLO rubber case can fit in that somehow next weekend when I go to see him.
 

gr8tfly

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2006
5,298
48
~119W 34N
I actually think its because it can push the radio to full power because you are no longer using the battery to run the iPhone.

A- Unfortunately, more power only helps receivers in sci-fi.
B- That's not how cell systems work. The phone tries to use the minimum amount of transmitter power. It's a balance between sufficient signal to hit your local cell site and not hitting more distant ones.
C- see above posts for why
 

TheScappian

macrumors regular
Jun 23, 2007
116
0
Mine does that same thing. As soon as power is attached to it the signal strength jumps up. Good reason for a dock at work.
 

Kev1000000

macrumors member
Jul 1, 2007
77
0
A- Unfortunately, more power only helps receivers in sci-fi.
B- That's not how cell systems work. The phone tries to use the minimum amount of transmitter power. It's a balance between sufficient signal to hit your local cell site and not hitting more distant ones.
C- see above posts for why
Havent you noticed that when you're on a call, your signal strength seems to increase? And when you end the call, it jumps back down?

The software raises the power to prevent the call from dropping, but when you arent on a call, it doesnt need to keep a full signal, so it cuts power. This is also why, if you arent in an area of service, your battery depletes much faster, because the radio is using a lot of power to search for a network.

When you are connected to a power source, the radio doesn't need to use any battery-saving techniques, so you'll end up getting better signal.
 

gr8tfly

macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2006
5,298
48
~119W 34N
Havent you noticed that when you're on a call, your signal strength seems to increase? And when you end the call, it jumps back down?

The software raises the power to prevent the call from dropping, but when you arent on a call, it doesnt need to keep a full signal, so it cuts power. This is also why, if you arent in an area of service, your battery depletes much faster, because the radio is using a lot of power to search for a network.

When you are connected to a power source, the radio doesn't need to use any battery-saving techniques, so you'll end up getting better signal.
I've actually noticed the opposite. I agree with most of what you're saying, but the additional power has no effect on the received signal. Even if it can maintain a higher output to seek a site, more power is not going to help the receiver. I think you will see a better signal with it sitting in the dock even unplugged. We might be talking about two different issues, though.
 

lofight

macrumors 68000
Jun 16, 2007
1,954
2
There's no antenna in the dock or cable, but's it's like with a stereo player with fm tuner, you get a cable that you can plug in for better connection, when you lay the cable up high you've better conn.
 

pcguru83

macrumors 6502a
Sep 13, 2006
584
0
Charlotte, NC
I'll just echo what others have said as well. I've noticed the same "phenomenon" happen. I get virtually 0 bars at my house (as with every other cell carrier I try--you'd think I lived in a farady cage or something).

However, as soon as I dock the phone, it will jump up to 2-3, sometimes even 4 bars. I just experienced this first hand yesterday actually. I received a text message I needed to respond to, but couldn't get the message to go through. Having observed this effect before, I figured I'd give it a try in the dock. Wouldn't you know, it worked the first try.