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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'.

Data download speeds

To understand the implications of the death grip on various phones, we looked for data speed decreases that seemed to result from it. We tested data speed loss on all phones except the BlackBerry Bold and obtained the results listed in the chart below (the Ookla test is not available from BlackBerry App World, and the alternative speed test application we used produced wildly inaccurate results).

Again, the Samsung Galaxy S experienced the worst drop-off of the non-iPhones we tested, sinking from a transfer speed of 27 kbps to a basically unusable one of kbps - a 78 percent loss. The Nexus One, Droid X, and EVO 4G had closely bunched results, with death-grip-induced data speed losses of 47.8 percent, 44.33 percent, and 40 percent, respectively. In our test group, the Droid X delivered the strongest data speeds in our low-signal location, with an average of 97kbps for the normal grip and 54kbps for the death grip.

The iPhone 4 completely choked in our data speed test. At first, we couldn't get the speed test app to connect to its servers to run the tests. After a few tries, the test registered a speed of 6kbps in a normal grip. But when we held the iPhone 4 in the death grip, we couldn't get the testing app to connect at all - not even when we tried closing and reopening the application a few times.

These findings tally with the results of our earlier informal tests of the iPhone 4's performance when held in its death grip, which we conducted when the phone had just come out.

Voice call tests

For another look at death-grip implications, we conducted some limited voice-call tests, listening for dropped calls or for calls with noticeable static or delay. Of all the phones in our tests, only the iPhone 4, the HTC Nexus One, and the Samsung Galaxy S showed significant signs of call quality degradation as a result of the death grip. Calls on all three phones sounded garbled, and on two of the phones - the Nexus One and the iPhone 4 - we experienced dropped calls.

NEXT PAGE: Unlikely death grips

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


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