Losing bars on the iPhone 4 about more than just "holding it wrong"

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 30, 2010 5:07 PM CDT

By now everyone's heard of the infamous iPhone 4 antenna problem. Holding the phone the wrong way can eat up your bars and make you drop calls, right? Well, it kinda depends.

The guys at Anandtech took a deep look into the iPhone 4 and its many issues and grabbed some interesting information. Holding the phone "the wrong way" can reduce your signal an average of about 20dB. The chart above shows the signal strength in dB of the bars shown on the screen. With a difference of 40dB between 5 bars and 4 bars, in a full strength area you're not likely to see a dip in the bars shown. Due to the logarithmic function of the bar system though, the difference between four bars and zero bars is only 23 dB. That makes the antenna issue a lot more prevalent in areas where your service isn't exactly the strongest.

The on-screen bar display may be tweaked in a future iOS update, maybe even the one reportedly coming next week. The iPhone 4 is still reportedly better than previous generations at holding onto calls even with the grumbling about the antenna issue. Apple has stated that "this iPhone gets the best cellular reception yet, even though measured signal is lower than the 3GS." This doesn't erase the fact that having to hold the phone a certain way to be sure to hold on to calls is ridiculous, and here's hoping Apple can find a fix for it.

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iPhone coming to Verizon in January according to sources

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 29, 2010 9:51 PM CDT

The "will the iPhone come to Verizon?" swing has come back towards to side of it happening according to a Bloomberg report. Two sources, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the information not being officially released, stated that the iPhone will be available from Verizon in January.

The iPhone has been an AT&T exclusive device since its inception in 2007, but that seems to be coming to an end sooner rather than later if all of the rumblings are true. UBS AG analyst John Hodulik, who estimates Verizon customers could buy 3 million iPhones a quarter, stated: "Apple is going to dramatically increase the number of devices it sells in the U.S. when exclusivity at AT&T ends. It's hard to ignore the quality issues that AT&T has faced."

While this would obviously be a large coup for Verizon, I can only wonder how Apple would be able to keep up with the demand that multiple carriers would have. The iPhone sold out in the preorder stage as an AT&T exclusive; they would have to make some major adjustments to keep up with the estimated demand. All of those who have only stayed away from the iPhone due to disliking AT&T can hopefully take some comfort in this report, at least until something comes along to swing the possibility to "not happening."

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iPhone 4 made available at AT&T stores today

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 29, 2010 4:00 PM CDT

The iPhone 4 went on sale in AT&T stores today, at least for an hour or so. It seems all of the launch day gripes about reception and funky screens did not deter many as tons of people stood in line hours before stores opened to get their hands on Apple's latest toy.

At&T stores only sold iPhone 4s to fill preorders on last Thursday's launch day. People in lines were also given the option to get on a list for an iPhone 4 after more shipments were received, since in store supplies were gone from 30-60 minutes after opening for most stores. Fom some of the quotes reportedly taken from people standing in line, customers were willing to put aside some differences to lay their hands on the device.

"At this point I might as well wait. I really love the design of the Apple product. But it's just ironic that I am waiting at an AT&T store where I've received the worst customer service," said loyal Apple fan Dave Norfleet-Vilaro. Stefani Bennett, when asked about the reception issues that were reportedly plaguing the iPhone 4, replied, "It's not that big of a deal. I've always had crappy reception with my iPhones. I'll just get the bumper. It looks a little tacky, but if I have to, I'll buy it."

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Froyo coming to the EVO 4G, but not to the Hero or the Moment

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 26, 2010 1:54 AM CDT

An announcement on the Sprint blog this morning had a "good news, bad news" kind of feel to it. Sprint officially stated that Android 2.2, known as Froyo, will be coming to their flagship phone the EVO 4G "in the near future." Not all was joyous though as two of their more popular models, the HTC Hero and the Samsung Moment, will be left out of the Froyo goodness. This most likely means Android 2.1 will be the last update for these phones.

The blog states that "With the Android 2.2 upgrade, customers can expect improvements to include the following benefits: updates to user interface, improved EAS Support, improved browser performance, including Flash 10x Support, voice dialing over Bluetooth and application storage on external memory." Also stated is that any future devices launched with Android 2.1 will get updates to Froyo.

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Android apps removed by Google for security reasons

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 25, 2010 5:52 PM CDT

Google has had to remove several apps remotely from Android phones and from the Android Market for what they have deemed "security concerns." Via the Android Developers blog, Google's Android Security Lead Rich Cannings offered the following explanation:

"In cases where users may have installed a malicious application that poses a threat, we've also developed technologies and processes to remotely remove an installed application from devices. If an application is removed in this way, users will receive a notification on their phone."

Google apparently came across a couple of apps that, in their words, "intentionally misrepresented their purpose in order to encourage user downloads, but they were not designed to be used maliciously, and did not have permission to access private data - or system resources beyond permission." The publisher removed the app from the store, but Google had to remotely remove the app from any phone that had downloaded it.

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Hulu Plus could soon be announced for Playstation 3

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 25, 2010 5:38 PM CDT

There are rumblings out there that Hulu may be bringing a premium service to the Web and the Playstation 3. "Hulu Plus," a $9.95 US based subscription service that could offer a larger catalog of shows han he free Hulu service, was originally expected to be announced for Xbox Live at E3, but according to a Bloomberg report Sony could be ready to announce Hulu for the Playstation 3 as early as next week. A beta version of Hulu Plus could surface somewhere around the same time.

Hulu Plus, which could also make a mobile debut for the iPad as well as the Xbox, would offer the service to users with the single subscription price for any compatible device. CBS, Viacom, and Time Warner are said to be in discussions with hulu abut bringing shows to this premium service, and if the subscription gets big enough, it could be enough to convince some to ditch their cable or satellite service altogether.

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OWC Data Doubler replaces Mac optical drive with extra HDD or SSD

Shane McGlaun | Storage | Jun 25, 2010 2:02 PM CDT

Many notebook users out there seldom use their optical drive. Other than installing software, the drives often tend to collect dust. If you are the type of user, who can live without an optical drive and want to get more storage on a Mac OWC has a new product for you.

The new product is called the OWC Data Doubler and it is a bracket that replaces the optical drive inside Apple MacBook computers with a 2.5-inch HDD or SSD. The bracket supports any drive that is 9.5mm tall.

It is worth noting that you have to open your Mac up, remove the optical drive, and install the bracket and drive in your machine. This will undoubtedly void any warranty you might have. There are different adapter models for different MacBook models and they all sell for $79.99.

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eMachines Mini-e ER1402 media nettop debuts

Shane McGlaun | Computer Systems | Jun 25, 2010 12:12 PM CDT

eMachines is one of those cheap PC brands that has been around for a long time in the US and often isn't associated with the best reputation for quality. The company has unveiled a new HTPC that looks very nice and has decent specs for the price.

The machine is called the mini-e ER1402 and it is very small. The machine is 7.1-inches in diameter and weighs nine pounds. It has full HD multimedia capability with HDMI out. Other features the 1402 include 802.11b/g/n and S/PDIF out.

The OS is Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit and the machine uses an AMD Athlon II NEO processor. Graphics are via NVIDIA GeForce 9200 GPU and the machine has 2GB of RAM. Storage is to a 160GB HDD. The ER1402 is available now in the US for $299.99.

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Give Kinect a try at any Microsoft store

Don Lynn | Gaming | Jun 25, 2010 4:37 AM CDT

If you didn't get a chance to give Microsoft's newest toy for the Xbox 360 a go at E3 last week, the Kinect sensor will now be available for trial at any Microsoft Store across the U.S. The downside? There are only four in the country: Scottsdale, AZ, Mission Viejo, CA, Lone Tree, CO, and the newest store opened today in San Diego, CA.

Of course Microsoft is also pushing the Kinect preorders at the Microsoft site as well as many stores nationwide, but states on the site now that "official pricing has not yet been announced," and "$149.99 is an estimate only and subject to change." A preorder with a price subject to change doesn't sound like something I'd like to sink that much money into, but the Kinect has drawn rave reviews and will most likely be a big hit at release.

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The next "it phone" for the teen texter: The Samsung :)

Don Lynn | Mobile Devices | Jun 24, 2010 11:03 PM CDT

Yes, I just used an emoticon in a news title. But it is warranted, because T-Mobile launched three new Samsung phones including the :). That's right, an emoticon as the name.

The Gravity 3, Gravity T and, get this, the Samsung :) are social networking and texting based slider phones equipped with T-Mobile's Social Buzz which sends notifications and messages when there are new posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The Gravity models have 2mp cameras and 16gb of supportable memory while the  has a smaller 1.3mp camera, but shortcut buttons to messaging applications.

All three phones are now available in the U.S., but no international launches have been scheduled yet. C'mon, you know the whole world needs a smile..........:)

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