Lately we heard a lot of speculation on things called “death grip” and “antenna-gate”. It all started with the iPhone 4 where Apple denied reception issues on the handset and Steve Jobs’ “you’re holding it wrong” statement became a classic to remember.
There were some bombastic rumors floating around the HTC HD7 lately with a strong title like “HTC HD7 suffers from the death grip/antennagate issue”. Let’s take a closer look at the subject!
We’ve demonstrated that other handsets (non iPhone 4) suffer from this phenomenon, which, believe it or not, is an indirect design effect meant to do more good than harm happening together with some other variables. You most probably heard of SAR (or specific absorption rate) which, according to Wikipedia, “is a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the body when exposed to a radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic field”. In other words, cell phones emit radiations and manufacturers are on a constant battle to both minimize the amount emitted and its effects.
Later, more recent cell phone designs place the antenna at the bottom of the handset, which is probably the furthest part of the phone away from your head – opposed to the old devices that had them at the top. Thing is that the bottom part of the phone is the one that you are holding it (wrong or not) from. And while the human body is surely not a Faraday’s cage, it applies a certain amount of shielding besides the fact that it is also a great conductor and you can easily have the effect of short circuiting (in layman’s terms). Additionally, higher frequencies are more difficult to block than lower frequencies so you’re more likely to lose some bars if you are on 850/900MHz than if you are on 1900/2100, thus the tendency of upping the frequencies as much as possible, regardless if we talk about cell phones, wireless routers or remote controls.
It could also be easy to blame the carriers for their signal strength as it would be almost impossible to provoke a signal loss using your hand in an area with full bars. Medium to low signal strength coupled with (in our opinion) a forced and un-natural (death) grip can lead to signal loss and even dropped call scenarios. To support this statement, here’s a comment on the HD7 death grip video posted: “I stumbled across a possible fix for the reception issue. I’m not saying it will work for everyone but it worked for me. Worth a try if you have the same problem. All i did was change the sim to a different network, do a hard reset of the phone with the other sim in, reboot then put my normal sim back in. Now the lowest my reception goes to is 2 bars which is quite good round here as the reception generally isn’t great”. This gets us back to our statement: overall signal strenght in the region.
Bottom line is: unless you prefer squeezing the heck out of your phone when you hold it at your ear, you shouldn’t be worried by signal or calls dropping in areas with good coverage, regardless if you own an HTC HD7 or another device. Your signal will drop one or two bars depending on your device model and maker but dropping two out of five is not the same as dropping two out of two or even one. That aside, find the original HTC HD7 video below and lend us your thoughts: