Scientists Verify iPhone 4 "Death Grip" Fault

Scientists have determined that the 'death grip' problem plaguing Apple's iPhone 4 and some other smartphones is very much real and won't be solved by using plastic cases.

According to research conducted by the University of Bristol's Centre for Communications Research (CCR), the network signals received by a smartphone change with position, motion and obstruction.

The study titled “Slot Antenna Performance and Signal Quality in a Smartphone Prototype”, which was published in the journal 'IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters', found that there was a 100-fold reduction in a device when it is held in a particular manner.

The researchers also revealed that the signal received by the device's antenna was also affected when the user's thumb was mimicked by a 'phantom material'. Even when users made use of a plastic phone cover to provide a gap between the antenna and the 'phantom thumb', it didn't restore the operational sensitivity of the device.

Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol said, “Antenna position and user grip on smartphones may lead to obstruction of radio signal paths and antenna detuning.”

“Research looking at the automated re-tuning of the antenna elements to maintain high efficiency when holding smartphones or similar devices to enhance connection reliability with wireless networks is ongoing within the CCR,” he added.