Cell Phone Antenna Hand Tests

Numbers not bars

by Jeff Liebermann

Test of what happens when you place your hand over the antenna. Numbers are from the field test mode. Tests were performed in my office unless otherwise mentioned. When possible, the numbers were generated during a test call. An effort was made to run the test in low and weak signal locations as strong signal areas tend to not show as large a change.

The Two Fingers position was two fingers to the sides of the phone. If internal antenna, the Hand position was holding the phone in a manner covering the antenna location. If external, the whole hand covers the projecting antenna and the back of the radio.

Mfg Model System Two Fingers






Ant Type Ant Location Tester Notes
Blackberry 8330 VZW -85 -94 9 Internal JL
Blackberry 8110 AT&T -92 -99 7 Internal bottom JL
Blackberry 8830 VZW -81 -89 8 Internal JL
LG vx8350R VZW -85 -94 9 Internal JL
LG vx5400 VZW -90 -95 5 Internal top JL sick phone
LG vx9100 VZW -82 -90 8 Internal JL phone open
LG vx8000 VZW -76 -82 6 External telescoping JL
LG vx8100 VZW -79 -85 6 External radome JL
LG vx8300 VZW -80 -88 8 External radome JL
HTC myTouch 3G T-Mobile -97 -103 6 Internal bottom JN weak area
Motorola RAZR V3c VZW -83 -95 12 Internal bottom JL
Motorola Droid X VZW -82 -91 9 Internal bottom TTV
Motorola E815 VZW -79 -88 9 External telescoping JL

Compare these results with the -19.8dB and -24.6dB drop in signal levels observed with the iPhone 4. The Real Story on iPhone 4's Antenna

The worst phone I tested dropped the rx signal 16 times (-12dB). The iPhone 4 rx signal dropped 100 times (-20dB) to 288 times (-24.6dB) . That's a 6 to 18 times worse signal drop for the iPhone 4. Little wonder it drops calls. My guess(tm) is that something more than detuning the antenna is happening. I suspect that the receiver front end might be slightly regenerative, where touching the antenna kills the regeneration and the associated sensitivity.

Test cell phones

Some of the phones tested.


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by Jeff Liebermann