How To: Hold your Nokia N900 and make it drop calls

| July 17, 2010 | 43 Replies

Hold your N900 in your N900 in portrait mode, right hand with the thumb on the side.

Then push the OFF button.

Here was Nokia’s statement in response to yesterday’s deflection, distortion and illusion show by our favourite magician. Smoke and mirrors at its finest.

Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature.

Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.

In general, antenna performance of a mobile device/phone may be affected with a tight grip, depending on how the device is held. That’s why Nokia designs our phones to ensure acceptable performance in all real life cases, for example when the phone is held in either hand. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design.”

At least yesterday we learned that if you ever cause a problem, just deflect, distort, confuse and make yourself out to be amazing. Don’t address problems directly, don’t accept the problem, deflect, skirt around the issue and pass the blame on everyone else. Push insinuations, distort the actual issue and turn things around to paint yourself in the most positive of angles. Just do your darndest to accept any personal blame.

1. “hey, did you burn the pizza?”

‘Nobody’s perfect. 3million pizzas are burned every day. I make awesome pizzas. Free garlic bread?’


2. “Hey, you missed your essay deadline”

“well nobody’s perfect. Joe, Chanse, Micky and Jen missed their deadline too. Only 0.55% of my tutors have spoken to me to complain about my missed deadlines. My essays this year have been awesome and I’ve spent 6 weeks writing this one, using PubMed, Microsoft Word and a dictaphone. Did I tell you I have a barbeque this Sunday? You’re welcome to join”

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Category: Nokia, Nseries

About the Author ()

Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com

Comments (43)

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  1. Andre says:

    F***ing epic !

  2. e says:

    feel sorry for apple fanboys.
    feel sad for apple fanboys who keep admiring Jobs even after this.
    feel shamed for apple for being such a cunning fox in this issue.
    sigh…

  3. mja says:

    Church of Applentology.

  4. a_usamn says:

    LOL, ROFL and LMAO :)

  5. inacurate says:

    Jay; you are wrong. I was unable to replicate the issue on my N900, therefor you must be lying. Since if I don’t have the problem, it must not be real! /sarcasm

    OMG JAY! LMAO…I clicked thinking “Someone spent the time to figure this out, wow I need to know how to see if mine does!!”

    Read the first two lines and just burst out laughing my ass off. GF not happy cause I just woke her up, hahahaha.

    I too, am really shocked at how many fanboys aren’t accepting the truth. It doesn’t mean if the problem isn’t affecting 50% of the users, it IS a design flaw and they should be getting skinned alive, say like Nokia did with the N97 and too little RAM. Or Microsoft, or Toyota, or BP, or any other company that knowingly made a choice that impacted the usability of their products to this extent.

    Just amazing. I wonder if they strengthened the kool-aid? ;)

    • Jay Montano says:

      haha, Imagine they were a car company and it was mass faulty brakes.

      How many people need to crash and die before they’d need to sort this out?

      For a SmartPHONE, a feature that must be FLAWLESS is described in its name.

      Skirting around the issue that they are better else where is not the topic in question. They can’t go, “oh, well, but the top speed is now 150MPH, 20% more than the previous model”. or “well, it’s damn popular, selling 3 million” – that’s just more faulty products out there.

      Yes, I can accept that the iPhone is quite brilliant in certain aspects. But here, there is a flaw. Accept and move on, try to fix. Don’t fob off as a non issue.

  6. Marc Lamarie says:

    A new solution for the iPhone antenna problem: throw it away and get a nokia

  7. Yougo says:

    There is some lessons nokia need to learn, why the iphone sell well

    rich of decent games apple appstore, what have nokia done to developers?

    The iphone icon and theme are the same as mac os x, they have talented graphics designers, simplicity is beautiful.

    • Jay Montano says:

      Yes, we can accept that Nokia has much to learn from Apple, and from other people in the industry.

      That is not the issue here, but the blatant game of deception.

    • Ludwig van says:

      Well I think Symbian has simpler icons than iPhone. IPhones icons are more polished and that’s what makes them more appealing. They all have that shine in them like they were made from glass or something. Nokia only need take those old icons and polish them. There’s really nothing wrong with the icons per se. Just that they look too “plain”.

      • Mikis says:

        It’s called “Web2.0 graphics” (check google images). Nothing new there… really… but average users think it’s something new and cool… so there you have it.

  8. Chris says:

    Oh man that’s so true!

    You know another way to drop a call is to change batteries mid-call. My N900 is always running out of battery so I often have to stick in a replacement battery. This results in the call dropping, though. Crappy Nokia engineers!!

  9. llaadd says:

    I get that issue on my N900 too Jay! Lets all call Nokia Care UK!

    you can check out the slides from the Apple Press Conference here as well as links to the full video at TheTekBlogger.com

  10. N#O#R#U#L#E#S says:

    somes nokia antenna problem as apple check it out…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1BEWCeVvuA

    (n97mini in video, but series E suffer too)

  11. John Wiegand-forson says:

    I cannot believe people are defending Apple on this issue instead of solving the problem they criticising their competitors instead of admitting they have a design flaw. I study Product/Industrial design and it is obvious apple sacrificed the function of the phone for visual design. Jonathan Ive must be going bananas now that iPhone users are gonna cover the most “beautiful” phone on the planet with a piece of plastic. I have definitely lost some respect for Apple on this whole issue and by the way I DO OWN a Macbook pro, iPod touch and a magic mouse just so apple fanboys know

  12. Dennis says:

    I guess the new response to”It’s not an Iphone!” is ” Thank god!”

  13. Mateo says:

    Good,very good.

  14. Jussi says:

    jade :
    But Apple’s antenna problem is fatal…grips for Nokia and other brands, but it’s a DEATH GRIP for Apple.

    Fatal, really? I bet you have not tested it yourself. The DEATH GRIP worsens the signal by some dBs, as with other phones. If the starting signal quality is low, then it can be “fatal”. As with other phones.

    The grip likely affects iPhone 4 more than your average phone others terms of dB? Is that a real problem for a big percentage of users? As the return rates and support calls show: NO.

    I have tested two iPhone 4s from a very early batch. In a relatively good Finnish network, I could see few bar drop, but *only* when I aimed to do it. This whole issue is blown out of proportion, the minority who suffer from it, is alleviated by Apple with the free case, which according to Consumer Reports fixes this issue. If they do not feel it is enough, they can return the phone.

    Problem solved for those it is an issue and the rest 3 million or so users can just continue enjoying their device, which by the way is *beautiful*.

    • Inacurate says:

      You are missing the point Jussi.

      If you buy a car being told it is able to travel at 300MPH, but once you get the vehicle it can only reach 150MPH and the company tells you “Well, you can never legally drive at 300MPH anyway, so don’t worry about it” – Are you going to accept that answer?

      It’s a yes or no question. The problem Apple has here is that the antenna design issue is a verifiable, repeatable, fact. It’s NOT the dropped calls that is the issue, that is the symptom. Every single iPhone 4 has this design, so every time human skin makes contact with the antenna on the outside of the device, it changes the signal and you loose a significant amount of dB.

      If you are in an area with great reception, this will not result in dropped calls. If you are in an area without great reception, this WILL result in dropped calls.

      Defending their decision to go ahead with this design choice even knowing it had issues, was a bad move plain and simple.

      So just stop proving how much of a fanboy you are please and accept that your “God”, really isn’t one. I’m objective enough to bash Nokia when they make a mistake, are you too good to do the same for the company you are loyal to? A company that lies and twists the truth every moment they get?

      • Jussi says:

        No, I would not accept the answer. Too bad the analogy does not really suit here. Apple has told one can use the device to make calls and use the Internet. In my, although limited, testing I could do that, rather well actually.

        The main thing is not “the bars” or dB, but reception in real world, which has *loads* of other factors than just dB. Quite a few people (Anandtech, Gizmodo’s Mr. Lam, and others) report that the real world reception is *better* than on their previous phones (3GS and others), so I guess everything about the antenna is not as bad as everyone tries to make it sound.

        I am not claiming the iPhone or its antenna is perfect. Far from it, it is clearly a trade off to make the device look good, be slim and have an OK battery life. After using the device in a real life, I would say it is *good enough*.

        Coming from you, the last paragraph about “God” and fanboyism is very funny. Just to make things clear: Apple does have bad products, MobileMe, Apple TV, iTunes (the app) are leading the way. Also their developer policies on the App Store are rather questionable. In the real world, the antenna is not an issue for most of the users, if it were, they would return the phone and get a better one instead.

        • Inacurate says:

          The analogy works and suits the situation. I can use another one: My N900 doesn’t have this problem when I hold my phone as close to the antenna as possible.

          “I am not claiming the iPhone or its antenna is perfect. Far from it, it is clearly a trade off to make the device look good, be slim” – All you (and the rest of the fanboys) have to do is stop talking here and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

          You are admitting there is the problem. You then continue talking and try to defend or say the problem isn’t real or won’t affect people. None of that matters! That is NOT the point! Just like in my car analogy, it doesn’t matter if you can never legally drive 300MPH or if the problem doesn’t affect you now because you have great signal.

          It’s a flawed design that causes a problem with the antenna – What you should be wondering is if the software fix for the algorithms is to correct an error that has been around for a few years, does that mean AT&T may not be 100% at fault for all the problems Apple have claimed? ;)

          Cause, it’s one or the other..well, ..both really. Bad antenna design AND telling people the bars they have been seeing for years were exaggerated. Nice.

          • Jussi says:

            I am “admitting” the antenna in question is not perfect, nothing is. Almost everything in a mobile phone is a compromise of a sorts. (I have not seen a perfect keyboard in a mobile phone either, but somehow I can manage without a full size one) I did not see any connectivity problems during my use of the devices unless when intentionally trying to block the lower left corner.

            You seem to come from a standpoint that anything but a perfect is totally unacceptable, especially if that happens to be in an Apple device. I am not that fanatical. I would like to remind that one of us has tested the device and it apparently is not you.

            In your beloved car analogy the car company has promised something very easily mesurable, speed, in this case no such claim is made. Apple does not promise dB will not get lower no matter how you hold the phone.

            I am sorry but I did not follow your logic about the algorithm for showing the bars and who is to blame. The fix was a cosmetical one not a baseband one. And frankly why should *I* be thinking about it, I am not an AT&T customer.

            During the past two years I have been quite happy with Sonera network in Finland with my 3G and 3GS. During that time I have tested a bunch of S40 and Symbian devices and of course the N900, each for a week or two, I have not noticed a big difference in connectivity here.

          • Inacurate says:

            Again what you seem to be missing is that the antenna design isn’t just not perfect, it is BADLY designed and they knew that going in. That is a lot different than what you seem to be thinking over there.

            Nothing is perfect, but they didn’t even try to make it perfect. They made a conscious decision to design an INTEGRAL component of a wireless device so it enabled the final result (how the iPhone 4 looks) to be better looking, more aesthetic on the eyes.

            Steve Jobs himself admitted this on Friday on the conference.

            What does testing the device have to do with anything? Why do I need to waste time confirming a repeatable bug? The whole “You haven’t even used it line” is a very sorry defense in this case. I do not need to test the device to know the problem exists. It is a fact that if you hold the iPhone 4 in a certain manner, you impede one of it’s most basic functions. Whether or not you can live with it or if it even affects you, is not at issue.

            Anyway, as fun as this is you don’t seem able to understand what I am saying and continue to bring up points that are irrelevant to the matter at hand. So, good luck in life…

        • Itsa Mysery says:

          One thing I noticed about Finland is that the entire country is “blanketed” with signal. You can be herding reindeer in Lapland on a snowmobile in the “middle of nowhere” and you will get a signal. The only time I have ever lost a signal (and only for a brief period) was when traveling by train to Oulu in the early 2000s.

          Given that effect on users is a apparently “step function” i.e. you don’t notice it until the signal degrades to a certain point and them it hits hard, I would expect iPhone users in Finland to be largely unaffected.

          I found the “X marks the spot” bit in Job’s press conference very peculiar. It’s as though Jobs is saying “We made an explicit trade off in our antenna design. In order to achieve all the other great things in the iPhone 4, we opted for a ‘Single Point of Degradation’. And we put a visible line there so users know exactly where not to touch it.”

          Huh?

  15. Jussi says:

    Marc Lamarie :
    A new solution for the iPhone antenna problem: throw it away and get a nokia

    Sure. Which model should I get? N97 has its share of problems and is a dog, N900 is still not for consumers, N8 is not out yet. Will it run as smoothly as an iPhone? Will the Apps work?

    • JFH says:

      JussiPussi right? Get this straight: Yes its a fucking huge problem. Attenuation is normal, but this much is not. This much attenuation is terrible. Consumer reports agree. You bought the crap Jobs said. And to your other points, yes you should get an N900.

      • Jussi says:

        JussiPussi what? How does this random reference to an old finnish nursery rhyme or a movie fit this discussion?

        I have tested two separate units of iPhone 4 for some hours myself and came to my conclusion weeks before yesterday’s press conference. What Apple told about the return rates just confirmed my own findings. So much fuss about a relatively minor issue, which can be fixed (according to CR, I have not tried) with the bumper, if the user so wishes. Actually, the issue with the proximity sensor could be worse, depending how widespread it is.

        Consumer Reports still rate iPhone 4 the best smartphone out there, attenuation or not.

        I actually did consider N900, but it is much like a developer preview and last time I checked N900 did not run some of the apps I need.

        • Andre says:

          What JFH is referring to is that you may be JussiPussi from Engadget.
          The N97 got called out for being anemic with RAM, but you only noticed it when you multitasked. If you avoid multitasking, which can be easily done it’s a great phone? Am I right??
          No, I’m not, the phone is supposed to multitask, just as the iphone is supposed to send and receive radio signals. Obviously both issues can be circumvented but try to tell what you just said about it not being a big deal to the numerous people affected by it and they’ll quickly tell you where to shove it.
          The degree of attenuation seen on the iPhone 4 is massive when compared to other similar devices and it’s not simply due to blocking the signal sent by the radio with flesh. The moisture on your skin literally messing up the antenna. (detuning it supposedly.)
          Show me one other phone that you can do that on and I’ll give you a prize.

    • R420R says:

      N900 is not for consumers? How the fuck did I get it?

      http://twitpic.com/25v8ky

      • Jussi says:

        Not really consumer quality. The famous fifth step is coming later this year according to Mr. Vanjoki.

        • Inacurate says:

          N900 is of better quality than every single iPhone model. :)

          Since to me, quality means the ability to do what I want with the device and be able to connect and share files across different mediums with ease, with no computer or proprietary software required or converting of files necessary.

          THAT is quality. Not some shiny paperweight that can’t even visit half the sites on the internet, but OMGWTFBBQORLY you can use two fingers on it!!11!1!
          :)

  16. Jussi says:

    Inacurate :
    What does testing the device have to do with anything? Why do I need to waste time confirming a repeatable bug? The whole “You haven’t even used it line” is a very sorry defense in this case. I do not need to test the device to know the problem exists. It is a fact that if you hold the iPhone 4 in a certain manner, you impede one of it’s most basic functions. Whether or not you can live with it or if it even affects you, is not at issue.
    Anyway, as fun as this is you don’t seem able to understand what I am saying and continue to bring up points that are irrelevant to the matter at hand. So, good luck in life…

    Only by using the product it is possible to evaluate what is the real scope of the said problem and does it really matter. I apologize for being “defensive”, but for some reason I weigh a real world test more than the word of a random guy on the internet, who is a self proclaimed Apple hater, and has seen a few videos on the Youtube. Newsflash: Youtube is not the whole truth and it does not give you much context. I do not assume E71 is horrible just because I have seen it drop bars on Youtube, you perhaps would.

    I did my best to “hold the iPhone 4″ in a certain manner and it dropped a bar or two. As did 3G, as did E71. In none of the above cases I think it is a real problem. For someone else it may be, depending on loads of factors. That person should think of a solution, the percentage of those seem not to be rather small. For me, only the actual problems count, not the imaginary or theoretical ones. I kinda do understand your need to exaggerate though.

    BTW, I really like your stylish way of discourse with oneliners like “God”, fanboysim and “good luck with life”. Brings back memories.

  17. duck says:

    How is it so hard to understand.
    Every single phone can be made death just placing something metal around it all around: this is teachhed on basic school on phycics, or have you forgotten ?

    Then connecting antenna to ground or another antenna, this was teached on basic school also:
    find old radio and grip your hand to it’s antenna: you CAN hear the effect, how the white noise starts to come thru.
    This is what is happening on iPhone4 .. you actually touch antenna and if you do it *that way* you will touch wifi antenna on same time –> white noise will overcome actual signal.

    Old Nokia phones had antennas, where you could touch it, but that was 20 years ago.
    Steve didn’t wish to pay lisences for such end consumer friendly antenna patents, which are widely in use nowadays, so he invented his own … iMazing Antenna, which everyone else dropped few decades ago and here we have result.

    I have had various phones (nokia, samsung, motorla, palm etc) in past 20 years and I am happy for my current N900, which you can hold as ever you like and make a call.

  18. AIM says:

    I am inclined to agree with Jussi here. It was all fun and games when Apple got all the blame, and when the spotlight is suddenly on the whole industry, all the companies are becoming defensive.

    I have even noticed a backtracking in the media. PC World headlines are now “PR Experts say Apple antennagate will not affect Apple’s image” and “Apple’s gambit my have paid off”.

    Are these the same “PR Experts” who only last week said a recall to the tune of 1.5 billion was ineveitable? What happened? And where is the media frenzy now? After all, if the problem was as bad as it was made out to be, then technically people should still be baying for blood no?

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