Gert Frølund Pedersen Predicted iPhone 4 Antenna Problems on June 10

Gert Frølund Pedersen, a professor at Aalborg University’s Institute for Electronic Systems in Denmark and an antenna expert, predicted the external antenna of the iPhone 4 could result in undesirable consequences if touched. Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen the external antenna design that was highly touted by Steve Jobs during his keynote at the WWDC 2010 is old news and that it has been seen in other implementations before. The following is a Google-translated version (source: ComON.dk):

The human tissue will in any event have an inhibitory effect on the antenna. Touch means that a larger portion of antenna energy becomes heat and lost.

Professor Gert Frølund Pedersen recommends a redundant dual-antenna solution so when one is blocked the other can engage. I wonder why Apple didn’t think of that.

Here’s another antenna expert: Spencer Webb, who runs AntennaSys, a company that custom designs RF solutions. Webb has worked on building quad-band transceivers for AT&T. According to Webb, most phone manufacturers have moved the antenna toward the bottom of the phone to minimize emissions to the head. The FCC has been adamant about enforcing strict limits on the amount of energy that can be absorbed by the body, especially the head, called Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). This is what Webb has to say about the iPhone 4’s antenna design decision:

Apple was not the first to locate the antenna on the bottom, and certainly won’t be the last.  The problem is that humans have their hands below their ears, so the most natural position for the hand is covering the antenna.  This can’t be a good design decision, can it?  How can we be stuck with this conundrum?  It’s the FCC’s fault.

The iPhone 4, however, moved the antenna action from the back of the phone to the sides. This probably improves the isotropy of the radiation pattern, but only when the phone is suspended magically in air.

The FCC and cellular carriers do test mobile phones connectivity but by attaching them to equipment. It if obvious there needs to be improvements in the way phones are tested since almost all phones are used by us, who are filled with 70% water and have electrical properties. What is most revealing is this: “… efficient transmission and reception while being held by a human hand are simply not design requirements!” How we miss the most obvious. Spencer, knowing the potential limitation of the antenna design, went ahead and purchased the iPhone 4: “And sometimes an antenna that’s not great, but good enough, is good enough.”

What I would do if I ever decide to get my very own white iPhone 4: Buy the Apple Bumper, take the iPhone 4 out of my pocket and place it on a non-conducting surface such as glass and use a Bluetooth earpiece without any obstructions between the iPhone and the earpiece. That should do it. I think.