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Test: does smartphone 'Grip of Death' affect all handsets?

We put different smartphones to the test

We test out Steve Jobs' claims that all smartphones suffer from signal loss if held in the 'grip of death'.

Signal loss results

In its earlier tests of signal loss of the iPhone 4 when held, AnandTech found that the iPhone lost about 24 dBm of signal strength. In high signal areas, AnandTech surmised, the iPhone 4 can sustain a loss of 24 dBm and still maintain a clear voice call and a high-speed data connection. But in low signal areas, that level of signal loss can reduce the signal to a point where calls degrade and drop.

So 24 dBm is the magic number - the standard measurement of the death grip's effect on the iPhone, and the benchmark we used in looking at the phones we informally tested. Our results for signal loss due to death grip appear in the chart below.

We measured death-grip signal loss by comparing the signal strength (in dBm) of each phone when held 'normally' (flat in hand) to the corresponding signal strength (also in dBm) of the phone when held in a death grip (blocking the phone's antenna).

In our 'weak signal' location, the Samsung Galaxy S had the greatest amount of signal loss - even when we held the phone loosely at its bottom (where the phone's antenna is located). The handset incurred a 37 percent decrease in signal, dropping from -81 to -111 dBm.

The HTC EVO was the next-most strongly affected by the death grip: Its dBm reading dropped from -87 to -101 dBm, a loss of 16 percent of signal strength - still far less than the Samsung suffered.

The Nexus One and the Motorola Droid X each lost marginal amounts of signal strength in their respective death grips, with declines of 6.2 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively - nothing approaching the iPhone 4's loss.

Oddly, the death grip actually improved the signal strength of the RIM BlackBerry Bold, which jumped 12.15 percent when we held it with our fingers tight at both edges of the phone.

NEXT PAGE: Data download speeds

  1. We put different smartphones to the test
  2. Signal loss results
  3. Data download speeds
  4. Unlikely death grips


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