Verizon iPhone 4 Antenna is Redesigned ...for CDMA

Wondering if we're going to have another "Antennagate" with the Verizon iPhone 4? We obviously can't say until the device is released on February 10th, but what we can say is that Apple has redesigned the Antenna. Before you go and assume that suggests Apple thinks the original design was flawed, remember that Verizon uses CDMA for 3G, which requires a completely different radio than AT&T's GSM network and therefore requires a completely different Antenna. This also confirms that leak from last week, by the by.

In any case, if you take a close look at the image above you'll see a couple new black dividers in the external Antenna on the Verizon iPhone 4. Apple also removed the divider next to the headphone jack. Whether, as Apple says, they are just changes necessary for the switch to CDMA or, as the conspiracy theorists will no doubt spin any second now, they are changes to prevent the "Death Grip" remains to be seen. All we know is that it won't magically allow your to keep your data connection active when a call comes in. Tradeoffs, people.

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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There are 21 comments. Add yours.

anthonok says:

BS it's to stop the stupid antennae issue. IDGAF what anyone says...unless the phone comes out and still has problems... Then I'm sorry.

Jason says:

That's all fine and dandy. And if it does stop the death grip issue than that's awesome. But AT&T you better let me upgrade the the new iPhone when it comes out, especially if the death grip issue is fixed on it (and I'm sure it will be). If not i will not be happy any probably won't be an AT&T subscriber much longer

arin.failing says:

wait wait wait.... so are you confirming, Dieter, that we will not be able to simultaneously use voice and data services on the verizon iphone?

ShadyE23 says:

so let get this clear, iphones with CDMA cant be unlocked, & iphones with GSM can be unlocked???????? because im waiting on the White Iphone & im hoping to unlock it to T-mobile

OrionAntares#CB says:

Just remember that you'll only be able to use EDGE on T-mobile because they use a non-standard 3G frequency.

msm0511 says:

@ShadyE23 It wouldn't matter if the Verizon iPhone could be unlocked. It will only work on Verizon in the US.

ShadyE23 says:

how about the AT&T iphone? & AT&T uses simcard

Shrike says:

Actually, my bet is that there will be some high demand to unlock the Verizon iPhone so that people can use it on Sprint. I'm not sure about all of the Sprint/CDMA activation issues though. It will be possible and will be interesting if Sprint will allow it (activate an unlocked Verizon phone).

ermax says:

The GSM iPhone has three antenna elements. The CDMA iPhone has four. Maybe one is for Bluetooth, one for WiFi and two for cell service giving it some redundancy? So maybe it isn't just simple CDMA changes? Who knows.
Arin, yes VZW confirmed the it will not do voice and data simultaneously.

Shrike says:

The GSM iPhone only has 2 antenna elements. The break in the band on the lower right is cosmetic. Since WiFi and Bluetooth use 2.4 GHz bands, they likely use the same antenna and it'll be the short one on the left side.
GSM bands are something like 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz frequencies. (Plus the 1700 MHz T-Mobile USA runt of a band). Since these cellular bands are at lower frequency and presumably longer wavelengths, it'll necessitate a longer antenna. It's going to be 1.5 to 3x as long as WiFi and Bluetooth bands. So, the GSM antenna on the iPhone has to be the long band from the top left, over the top of the phone, down the right side, over the bottom and to the break on the lower left. Maybe Apple is doing some switching magic with that break on the lower right depending on which frequency it is trying to get, but it looks cosmetic.
For Verizon, there won't be much change as their frequency bands are something like 850, 1900 and 2100 MHz. So, I suspect two of the breaks on the right hand side are cosmetic.

icebike says:

Antenna length is NOT dictated by the bands the phone use. You size antennas in terms of fractional wavelengths, and the difference between AT&T GSM wavelengths an VZW CDMA wavelengths is minimal and zero antenna resize would be necessary.
You try to use even divisions or multiples(2/4/8/16/etc) of the actual radio wave length when designing an antenna, but this is merely an efficiency issue, not a requirement.
All the bands use the same antenna, so 850 and 1900 and 2100 would all be using the same antenna.
There is no real difference in the Radios that would require different antennas or antenna lengths for GSM vs CDMA.
Radios are often given separate antennas for receive vs transmit, and it is desirable to use different antennas for concurrent usage (wifi + CDMA or CDMA + Bluetooth). This is simply to avoid having transmit circuits open to the antenna at the same time, and one transmitter swamping the other.
So don't make more of this than it is. Its simply an antennagate redesign snuck in under the guise of going to CDMA.

Shrike says:

Sure thing icebike. Now, what is your opinion on which part of the antenna band belongs to which radio?

Cav3O says:

AT&T should let us with the iPhone4 upgrade to the iPhone5 for the same price as a new customer...if not that's a major deal breaker.
AT&T should also come out with something to "wow" us existing customers to stay on board.

Shrike says:

Why would AT&T do that? (Let iPhone 4 customers get fully subsidized pricing for iPhone 5 after 1 year of usage). They are subsidizing the iPhone about $400.
ATT's wow is that they on aggregate deliver the highest bandwidth in more places then their customers. They are have reasonable $15 and $25 data plans.

OrionAntares#CB says:

That's their ad "sh-peel" but if you did a real test of the various networks you'd probably end up finding that more true of T-mobile than AT&T. That of course is assuming you're using network targeted devices since T-mobile uses that non-standard band.

Shrike says:

It's will still be true. AT&T's HSPA network is bigger than T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, available in more cities and faster than T-Mobile's larger HSPA network (which in of itself is the smallest of the 4 national carriers).
ATT on aggregate will likely provide the fastest bandwidth to more customers than Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint until their 4G networks are built out, and that's 2012, maybe 2013.
Just think about it. ATT is doing something right. Verizon had an 8 to 10 million subscriber lead after the Verizon's Alltel buyout. They've now caught up and may surpass Verizon in calendar Q4 2010. That data will come soon. You don't do that unless you are doing something right. Maybe it is iPhone coat-tails, the $15 data plan, the faster bandwidth. Who knows.

isaac65 says:

Has anyone noticed that they had to move the mute button down a bit to put that divider above it? So much for current iPhone 4 cases fitting the Verizon iPhone 4 and vice versa.
There's going to be a lot of confused people for the next few months until the iPhone 5 comes out. Hopefully that generation will be identical on Verizon and AT&T (and Sprint and T-Mobil, maybe).

John says:

Actually CDMA technology requires less power to keep a connection that GSM. Therefore, they were able to move the antenna to the top of the CDMA phone where they could not with the GSM to meet safety standards (of absorbing radiation).

Shrike says:

Anandtech pulls through again. They get some numbers and data on the new antenna.
The so called death grip attenuation is about 18 db. There are 3 antennas, my interpretation as Anand didn't say. He did say the top band was a secondary CDMA receiver antenna per Verizon specifications on there phones. Looking for to their review in February.

OrionAntares#CB says:

Anything on the "death touch" loss though? We already know all phones can suffer from a "death grip" but only iPhone 4 has suffered from the "death touch" so far.