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Old June 18th, 2010, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Incredible Signal Strength Radio Issue? FYI!!!!

OK, so I know there have been a few threads regarding DInc's signal strength, and the reading of the bars vs. the actual dbm. I just want to share with you my opinion, and see if there is a consensus. If there is we, need to start documenting this with VZW, so that a fix can be put out sooner than later (see below).

Obviously, my bars don't represent the dbm, but I think there's more to it than just an improper bar reading.

I have a Moto Droid, and my wife has the incredible, and we'll trade phones every so often for what ever reason. She's a teacher, and what really caught my attention is that her battery on the DInc, would only last about 4 hours when she had the phone at her school. When she would take my Moto Driod the battery lasted all day, and by all day I mean it was at 50% by 4:00pm.

The DInc, outside of her school (weekends), would last exactly the same as the Moto Droid in or outside of her school building. So I had her start paying attention to the signal, and sure enough, the DInc, spent the majority of it's day, searching for a signal, bouncing between 1x to EV 1 bar to no signal. At this point I was confident that the majority of the battery drain issue had to do with the phone constantly searching for a signal. Her dbm ranged form -82 to -102 at her school, and -74 to -101 at home. My Moto Droid gets -65 to -89 at my house, and close to the same reading at her school, but never once has the Moto Droid lost the signal or dropped to 1x, so the Moto Droid's battery doesn't drain as fast.

Which brings me to the next issue, dropped calls. I knew that the DInc couldn't hold a signal at her school, so the dropped calls were expected, even though the Moto Droid did not drop any calls. What I couldn't figure out is why I getting dropped calls on the DInc outside of the school. And I would make a call while watching with the dbm screen and watch the signal go from -70's to -100's. After a lot of head scratching and research I found this video on youtube.

YouTube - HTC Droid Incredible signal strength issue

I didn't think it was true. Surely, there isn't a hardware issue with this phone. But I tried it out, and sure enough, when I held the phone at it's base, the signal dropped by -20 dbm. SO I watched while I made calls and and as I was in a call, I could see the signal drop and the call became more echoey.

So I concluded that when I was in an already low signal area, and I made a call and held the phone by it's base, I would eventually drop the call.

Never had any of these problems with the Moto Droid.

So I called HTC yesterday, and I didn't have to argue with them at all. When I told the lady I had an incredible and was experiencing signal fade, she quickly told me that HTC was aware of it and they were AWARE that the signal fade was contributing to the battery drain. The engineers have identified it, and that they are working on a fix that will eventually be an OTA. But I tried to explain to her that if there is a signal fade issue being caused by the radio antennas location or them being faulty, a software fix wouldn't correct it. She went on to tell me that they are confident that they will be able to fix it with a OTA, but haven't confirmed the fix yet, so she could give a date as to when the OTA was coming out. She also mentioned that VZW was completely aware of the situation.

Which brings me to today. I went to my VZW store today, and the techs thought I was crazy. Not only were they unaware of the any signal or battery drain issues on the DInc, they also had no idea what HTC was talking about.

Guys, I'm here to tell you that this signal fade/battery drain issue is bigger than just a misreading of the bars on the screen.

-Your DInc is losing battery life because of the signal.
-There is a software issue causing an improper reading of the bars.
-The radio signal is affecting the dbm readings.

I tested the three DIncs in the store, and they all jumped between -62 to -104 at any given time. The tech even admitted that there was a signal booster near by, and amazingly, the DInc was the only phone not getting 4 bars.

We need to start addressing this with the VZW in the masses so they can coordinate HTC and get this corrected right away.

I for one, am planning on having my wife's DInc replaced with a newer model after June in hopes that the reason for the delay was a hardware update that results in the correction of the signal. I'm sure the OTA will fix the bars, but no OTA is going to fix the radio antenna.

I had a DInc on order to be here on the 26th of June to replace my Moto Droid, but I canceled that order this morning.

If you think I'm wrong, just give HTC a call and hear it form the horses mouth.

Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but the only way they'll fix this is if we join together.

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Old June 18th, 2010, 03:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is a known thing. And a big part of it is the placement of the anntena. At work where I get crappy Internet access if something is downloading slow I hold the bottom and top left corner with one finger and my data starts coming almost instantly.

I also checked my numbers and I would go from about -102 to around -88-92 big difference.
 
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Old June 18th, 2010, 04:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ymDroid View Post
OK, so I know there have been a few threads regarding DInc's signal strength, and the reading of the bars vs. the actual dbm. I just want to share with you my opinion, and see if there is a consensus. If there is we, need to start documenting this with VZW, so that a fix can be put out sooner than later (see below).

Obviously, my bars don't represent the dbm, but I think there's more to it than just an improper bar reading.

I have a Moto Droid, and my wife has the incredible, and we'll trade phones every so often for what ever reason. She's a teacher, and what really caught my attention is that her battery on the DInc, would only last about 4 hours when she had the phone at her school. When she would take my Moto Driod the battery lasted all day, and by all day I mean it was at 50% by 4:00pm.

The DInc, outside of her school (weekends), would last exactly the same as the Moto Droid in or outside of her school building. So I had her start paying attention to the signal, and sure enough, the DInc, spent the majority of it's day, searching for a signal, bouncing between 1x to EV 1 bar to no signal. At this point I was confident that the majority of the battery drain issue had to do with the phone constantly searching for a signal. Her dbm ranged form -82 to -102 at her school, and -74 to -101 at home. My Moto Droid gets -65 to -89 at my house, and close to the same reading at her school, but never once has the Moto Droid lost the signal or dropped to 1x, so the Moto Droid's battery doesn't drain as fast.

Which brings me to the next issue, dropped calls. I knew that the DInc couldn't hold a signal at her school, so the dropped calls were expected, even though the Moto Droid did not drop any calls. What I couldn't figure out is why I getting dropped calls on the DInc outside of the school. And I would make a call while watching with the dbm screen and watch the signal go from -70's to -100's. After a lot of head scratching and research I found this video on youtube.

YouTube - HTC Droid Incredible signal strength issue

I didn't think it was true. Surely, there isn't a hardware issue with this phone. But I tried it out, and sure enough, when I held the phone at it's base, the signal dropped by -20 dbm. SO I watched while I made calls and and as I was in a call, I could see the signal drop and the call became more echoey.

So I concluded that when I was in an already low signal area, and I made a call and held the phone by it's base, I would eventually drop the call.

Never had any of these problems with the Moto Droid.

So I called HTC yesterday, and I didn't have to argue with them at all. When I told the lady I had an incredible and was experiencing signal fade, she quickly told me that HTC was aware of it and they were AWARE that the signal fade was contributing to the battery drain. The engineers have identified it, and that they are working on a fix that will eventually be an OTA. But I tried to explain to her that if there is a signal fade issue being caused by the radio antennas location or them being faulty, a software fix wouldn't correct it. She went on to tell me that they are confident that they will be able to fix it with a OTA, but haven't confirmed the fix yet, so she could give a date as to when the OTA was coming out. She also mentioned that VZW was completely aware of the situation.

Which brings me to today. I went to my VZW store today, and the techs thought I was crazy. Not only were they unaware of the any signal or battery drain issues on the DInc, they also had no idea what HTC was talking about.

Guys, I'm here to tell you that this signal fade/battery drain issue is bigger than just a misreading of the bars on the screen.

-Your DInc is losing battery life because of the signal.
-There is a software issue causing an improper reading of the bars.
-The radio signal is affecting the dbm readings.

I tested the three DIncs in the store, and they all jumped between -62 to -104 at any given time. The tech even admitted that there was a signal booster near by, and amazingly, the DInc was the only phone not getting 4 bars.

We need to start addressing this with the VZW in the masses so they can coordinate HTC and get this corrected right away.

I for one, am planning on having my wife's DInc replaced with a newer model after June in hopes that the reason for the delay was a hardware update that results in the correction of the signal. I'm sure the OTA will fix the bars, but no OTA is going to fix the radio antenna.

I had a DInc on order to be here on the 26th of June to replace my Moto Droid, but I canceled that order this morning.

If you think I'm wrong, just give HTC a call and hear it form the horses mouth.

Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but the only way they'll fix this is if we join together.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 04:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Similar to the my findings with the Droid. Antenna mod helped:

Homemade antenna breakthrough on 3G/1x switching?
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Old June 18th, 2010, 04:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated. Sorry for the long post, but the only way they'll fix this is if we join together.
Thanks for the post. It's old news, however. I got an email response from Htc over a month ago about this:


New Response
Hi, Iím Caylen, and Iíll be glad to assist you today. We are currently aware of this issue and working to address this is in the next MR (ROM update). Like all ROM updates, we cannot provide the exact date for an expected release, as there may be delays that are out of HTCís control. For now, try the below troubleshooting steps in attempts to resolve this issue. When holding the device, you should hold it with your fingertips for optimum strength in signal. Dial: *228 option 1-phone update *228 option 2- prl update After you have completed these steps, soft reset the device. You can soft reset by powering off the phone, removing the back cover and battery, replace the back cover and battery, and power the phone back on. Thank you for contacting HTC America Technical Support. Please feel free to contact us again if you have any future questions. Also, I would like to invite you to participate in a customer satisfaction survey located at HTC Online Survey.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Why do you think VZW has no knowledge, or won't acknowledge the issue.


Why is the only acknowledgment coming from HTC?
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Old June 18th, 2010, 05:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had this same issue try this:

type in *#*#4636#*#*
--> Phone Information
Change "Set Preferred Network Type" from "GSM auto (PRL)" to "CDMA auto (PRL)"
I believe you might have to click force close or something once.


This should solve your problems



* this is not my method at all and I take no credit, it was mentioned in the support forums here but I cant find it now
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Old June 18th, 2010, 06:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Mine was already set to CDMA auto.

So, that wasn't it, but thank you.

The radio antenna is going to have to be corrected, for this whole issue to be fixed.

I just wish that the hundreds of people that had the DInc, would call to VZW and file trouble tickets so VZW would take it more seriously.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 06:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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So if this turns out to be a hardware issue, what can they do? Recall all of the phones?

Like you said, how can they fix a hardware problem with an OTA update?
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Old June 18th, 2010, 06:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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So if this turns out to be a hardware issue, what can they do? Recall all of the phones?
No massive recall. Massive cover-up is more likely.
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Old June 18th, 2010, 06:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Sad but true Steven58
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Old June 18th, 2010, 06:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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For the technically inclined, here is a good explanation of how signal strength can affect battery life:

Near-far problem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This phenomenon affects phones on all CDMA networks (Sprint, Verizon...), and can become especially apparent if you spend long periods of time in an area with marginal reception, or dense network traffic. The quality of the phone's antenna is a contributing factor, but not a direct cause of the issue you guys are seeing. For some users, usually those that spend long periods of time with marginal reception, modifying or upgrading the phone's antenna can have a significant impact on battery performance. If that is too much of a hassle, you can also consider purchasing one of the femtocell devices available for your provider:

Enter your location

Good luck!
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 03:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkmn760 View Post
I had this same issue try this:

type in *#*#4636#*#*
--> Phone Information
Change "Set Preferred Network Type" from "GSM auto (PRL)" to "CDMA auto (PRL)"
I believe you might have to click force close or something once.


This should solve your problems



* this is not my method at all and I take no credit, it was mentioned in the support forums here but I cant find it now

So can our phones be used on a GSM network????
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 04:09 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ryd1ZZ View Post
So if this turns out to be a hardware issue, what can they do? Recall all of the phones?

Like you said, how can they fix a hardware problem with an OTA update?
They did it with the BB Storm 2 when they did a recall on all the Storms due to the screen. they should do the say for us Incredible users. We paid good money for these phones as well as agrred to some type of contract for service with them. We should get what we paid for. When they did the recall on the Storm 2 due to the screen, I had to get nasty with the CSR because he flat out denied that there was a recall. When I spoke with his supervisor, the supervisor acknoledged that there was a recall but that they were not to mention it unless the customer knew about, due to the fact that everybody would be calling in for exchanges. I told him that that was BS on their end and that I wanted what I paid for. I want a great working phone because that is what I paid for and what I made a contract for. If the phone is faulty from the get go and they know about it, then we should demand that they fix it and give us a working phone.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 04:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I find that there being an issue with the incredible's signal is ridiculous, and here's why:

I was going up to the north rim of the grand canyon to go camping, and when I was at A, and I was able to get a signal from B
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=US-89+Alt+S&daddr=37.081476,-111.666412&hl=en&geocode=FZ4LMQIdksFY-Q%3B&mra=mi&mrsp=1,0&sz=10&sll=36.776292,-111.52771&sspn=0.757877,1.454315&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=10
(Cell tower location via Antennas app and my... cell tower location).

Granted it's rather flat out there, but still, I was able to get a signal from a tower 22 miles away.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 05:11 PM   #16 (permalink)
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So does anyone think it would be possible to divert more power to the radio to help with the problem? Will that even make a difference because I don't know technically speaking if it would or not. If so, perhaps using more battery power up front would result in an overall net savings would outweight the loss from constantly searching. IDK, just a thought. Seems like they must either have something in mind to patch it or else they're just blowing smoke.
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 05:12 PM   #17 (permalink)
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So if you block the antenna it will impact the signal strength? Whodathunkit?
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Old June 23rd, 2010, 06:20 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I find that there being an issue with the incredible's signal is ridiculous, and here's why:

I was going up to the north rim of the grand canyon to go camping, and when I was at A, and I was able to get a signal from B
US-89 Alt S to US-89 N - Google Maps
(Cell tower location via Antennas app and my... cell tower location).

Granted it's rather flat out there, but still, I was able to get a signal from a tower 22 miles away.
that's the way CDMA is designed to work - it increases the power to the radio as you get further from the cell site. When the phone has a weak antenna or radio; it compensates by INCREASING the power to the radio; thereby DECREASING battery life.

In order to balance that out, the phone radio rom (the program that tells the phone's radio how much power to draw from the battery) plays games, and tries to minimize the power that it draws, especially when you are not on a call.

HTC and Verizon can tweak the Phone radio ROM, to have it give a higher priority to maintaining a strong signal, at the expense of battery; or it can minimize the the battery draw, by cheating the signal.

It seems pretty clear the the Incredible's radio ROM is not working optimally, either to maximize battery OR to maximize signal.

For what is worth, I came from a HTC Touch Pro 2, which is available on several different CDMA Networks (Verizon; sprint; Alltell etc) and each carrier would tweak the radio ROM according to THEIR preference - balancing more in favor of stronger signals and less battery life; or vice versa. The hackers out there were frequently debating which radio rom was the best, and switching them out from the different networks. The preferred radio ROM for the Touch Pro 2 seemed to be the Verizon - because the seemed to have spent the most time trying to strike the delicate balance between power and battery life.

Seems like the HTC Incredible needs a new Radio ROM ....
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Old June 25th, 2010, 01:21 AM   #19 (permalink)
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So can our phones be used on a GSM network????

No but android is used on both networks hence why it is built into the code.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 08:05 AM   #20 (permalink)
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+1

I had a Droid before using my wife's upgrade to get an Incredible. Sitting at my desk at work, my Droid was usually at -84dBm. The Dinc sitting on my desk in the exact same spot hovers around -99dBm, I routinely bounce in and out of 1x/3G.

Bars are for people who want to get drunk. I wish you had the option to turn off the bars display and show the actual dBm. Bars mean nothing. It's an idiot gauge because if I showed the average user a reading of -84 dBm, they'll have no idea what that means.

I'm completely confident that the OTA WILL fix it. If you dig around the Droid forums, you'll see that for rooted users, there are different radio files which improve reception. I had similar results when I had my BB and played with the beta releases. Some versions had terrible radio reception, others were great. Again, there were different radio files to be had. So if it a radio file improves radio reception for a rooted phone, why couldn't HTC fix it in an OTA release??
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Old June 25th, 2010, 08:13 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I e-mailed HTC about the signal issue a week ago and the rep denied any issues with the antenna. Saying that I was just not in a good coverage area for Verizon. Being in the nations capital I would hope that is not the case,
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Old June 25th, 2010, 09:18 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Why do you think VZW has no knowledge, or won't acknowledge the issue.
A store employee not knowing about an issue does not mean that the company doesn't know about the issue.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 10:46 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I have to admit, if it does turn out that our phones have a massive hardware issue with the antenna that will not ever be fixed... I'm going to be slightly tempted to ask for a switch. Which I don't want to do, because I -love- this phone.

EDIT: hell, it might explain why Sirius shits out on me all the time.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 12:10 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I luv my Inc, but the phone radio and sometimes "under water" sound quality I get on calls is starting to get old. The under water call quality seems to be increasing.

Added:

It used to just be some calls from other carriers, but calls from my family on VZW are now having the issue too. It does not matter if I am in a weak or strong signal area and happens now, more times than not.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I e-mailed HTC about the signal issue a week ago and the rep denied any issues with the antenna. Saying that I was just not in a good coverage area for Verizon. Being in the nations capital I would hope that is not the case,

I was in DC last week Fairfax / Vienna and of course DC. I had 3G signal everywhere in the area except of course the underground train areas.

That said, coverage west bound going home on 66 and then 81 & 64 sucked for MANY miles. Better than Tmo, but even Verizon was dead in a lot of areas. Dagburn them mountains & valleys...

BTW, many areas in West Virginia are a cell phone signal black hole!
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Old June 25th, 2010, 09:35 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Chatted with a VZW rep for a while today at the store where I bought mine, and he said to hold out, there's an OTA upgrade coming at some point that should fix the issue.

I was skeptical at first, thinking maybe he just didn't want to go through the trouble of having me do any kind of replacement/upgrade, but then he explained how he's not even going to trade up to a Droid X even though he easily could. So basically I was hearing it from a fellow Inc lover who just happened to be in Verizon's loop.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MisterMixelpix View Post
Chatted with a VZW rep for a while today at the store where I bought mine, and he said to hold out, there's an OTA upgrade coming at some point that should fix the issue.

I was skeptical at first, thinking maybe he just didn't want to go through the trouble of having me do any kind of replacement/upgrade, but then he explained how he's not even going to trade up to a Droid X even though he easily could. So basically I was hearing it from a fellow Inc lover who just happened to be in Verizon's loop.
Good to know thx
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Old June 26th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #28 (permalink)
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I have my phone sitting on my desk right now. It has -85 dbm. If I pick it up, my signal strength actually goes up to -95 dbm if I'm holding it by the base. As soon as I put it down, it goes back to -85 again. I've repeated this several times. It doesn't seem to matter if I hold the phone with my left hand or my right hand or if I have the phone in the case or not. The behavior is the same.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #29 (permalink)
 
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I have my phone sitting on my desk right now. It has -85 dbm. If I pick it up, my signal strength actually goes up to -95 dbm if I'm holding it by the base. As soon as I put it down, it goes back to -85 again. I've repeated this several times. It doesn't seem to matter if I hold the phone with my left hand or my right hand or if I have the phone in the case or not. The behavior is the same.
See, that is the same problem for me. I quit looking at that because it was driving me nuts. I can still make calls, but it's bothersome knowing that the phone is not getting the reception it should. I know it should be better, being in a well covered area and all.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
I have my phone sitting on my desk right now. It has -85 dbm. If I pick it up, my signal strength actually goes up to -95 dbm if I'm holding it by the base. As soon as I put it down, it goes back to -85 again. I've repeated this several times. It doesn't seem to matter if I hold the phone with my left hand or my right hand or if I have the phone in the case or not. The behavior is the same.
It's going down. Minus 95 is less than minus 85.

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Old June 26th, 2010, 11:37 AM   #31 (permalink)
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It's going down. Minus 95 is less than minus 85.

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In order to clear up any confusion for those trying to follow, let's go with:

-85 is a better signal than -95....




(For those new to it, the "-xx" figure is a measurement of the power ratio for a given signal. If you ignore the "-" sign, then just go with lower numbers = better signal.)
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Old June 26th, 2010, 12:37 PM   #32 (permalink)
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It is been pretty well documented that part of the reception problem is due to the placement of the antenna near the bottom of the phone. But FCC regs require all manufacturers to position the antenna as far from the user's head as possible to limit the amount of RF radiation absorbed. Holding the phone with hand will attenuate the signal somewhat. My experiments with this phone is that signal strength will increase somewhat if you hold it near the top with your fingers rather than flat against your hand

So phone reception has actually devolved from the days of the flip phone with a retractable whip antenna due to concerns over the health hazards of RF radiation.

The iPhone 4 apparently has its own reception problem that appears to be a design issue. I'm no engineer, but found this article written by an antenna expert regarding the new iPhone, but has relevance to the Inc and most phones made today.

Apple iPhone 4Antennas... - AntennaSys Blog - AntennaSys, Inc. - antenna design, integration and consulting.

As noted, the antenna constraints of the Inc will require the software to increase the power of the radio at the expense of battery life. I do believe a software update can refine the power management of the radio and the ability to lock onto a signal in low-reception areas. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 01:22 PM   #33 (permalink)
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It's going down. Minus 95 is less than minus 85.

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You're right. I typo'd.
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When the HTC Droid Incredible launched in spring of 2010, it quickly became one of Verizon's hottest Android phones ever. Sporting many of the same features as its cousin, the Google-branded Nexus One, the Incredible features a 1GHz Snapdragon ... Read More

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