Steve Jobs Claims BlackBerry Bold 9700 Has Antenna Issues


Steve Jobs press event

At Apple’s iPhone 4 press conference today, Steve Jobs tried to deflect criticism from the iPhone’s antenna issues by saying that other devices, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, have antenna issues and that these devices will drop from 5 bars to 1.

From a purely anecdotal standpoint, I have no idea what Jobs is talking about. Any time my Bold 9700 has dropped in signal strength, it has been very obvious why. If I’m in a basement, or away from a cell tower, the reception drops naturally, but I have never experienced anything like the iPhone 4’s “Death Grip”.

This seems like a totally unsubstantiated attack on RIM and it would be great to see RIM’s engineers respond. Have you ever experienced a Death Grip issue on a Bold 9700? Let us know in the comments.

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  • krg
  • Stan

    They have a video of a Bold (and other devices) losing their signals based on the grip:

    I have a Curve, not a 3G device, but I do know that if you’re in an area with a weak signal, you can improve things quite a bit by keeping your hand away from the bottom of the phone.

  • dkonigs

    This page shows you the specific grip you need:

    And it does have an effect, just a very small one.

  • Talon8

    I managed to drop my signal by completely enveloping the 9700 with my body save for the top right of my screen (two hands, shoved into my chest)… I think it would be a little impractical to answer the phone like that though.

  • SteveP

    I have a Curve 8530, and I can make the bars jump from 1 or 0 to full depending on how I hold my hand on it, without moving the phone at all. So it is a legitimate argument, every phone is going to suffer from it to an extent. And the Curve doesn't even have exposed antennas.

  • Talon8

    I've NEVER seen a signal drop at any other time though.

  • skwarek

    I still can't do it on my 9700

  • sickens

    Well that's a 'Bold' claim… Way to pass the buck Apple with the 'everyone has problems so it's only natural' statement. Never had issues with my 9700…

  • Reservareal

    yup, just as when the ship starts to sink, you start grabbing @ everything else!

  • Chris Harris

    I can do it quite easily on my Bold 9700 .. but I'm in a weak signal area.

    I had an iPhone 4 and returned it because it was unusable.

  • BenDibble

    I can hold my Storm 9530 in this “death grip” and the bars will completely disappear. Just as Jobs stated, this problem is not unique to the iPhone4. Sure the iPhone4 has a nice target zone identified on it, but if you hold any phone in that area the signal will degrade. This problem was first compared to a iPhone3G, and it performed the exact same signal degradation.

    I think the REAL problem here is that these Apple fanbois are too caught up in their own hype and start to cry when someone finds a minor fault in their products. Apple is man enough to admit a mistake, and i think it is time for the gadget bloggers to understand that nothing is perfect in this world and to take a simple course in physics

  • Hoopitz

    I've never had a problem with my 9700. I think I actually hate Steve Jobs. Admit that Apple f*@cked up, fix the problem, and move on.

  • Charles

    hahaha i tried every configuration of hand cupping around mine and nothing! the only reason mine drops is GD Rorgers!

  • Chuck

    I had an AT&T BlackBerry Bold for 7 months and never once experienced the “death grip” issue. In fact, I was quite pleased with the device. If not for my switch in carriers, I would still be happily using it today. As it happens, the BlackBerry Bold 9650 also has no “death grip” issue. Crazy old Jobs is off his rocker, but then we all already knew that.

  • Chuck

    Actually, Apple is not admitting the issue is a hardware problem. They are blaming a software issue, but Consumer Reports and many other organizations have proved them to be liars. This is a hardware issue. There are not inherent antenna issues with every phone which are as extreme as the iPhone 4. They rushed it to production with inadequate testing and no outside beta program to uncover their mistakes. Apple screwed the pooch, plain and simple

  • Game_misconduct

    I've actually had several problems with my Bold 9700 dropping signal during calls. Though I'm not an Apple evangelist and I don't think it was right for him to name other phones while trying to justify a flaw in his product, there is a case to be made.

  • Ale

    I think it wasn't a good move from Apple to start criticizing other devices when the iPhone 4 obviously has serious hardware problems. I hope that RIM make a good response to Jobs…

  • Kyle McInnes

    I'm not exactly sure how the Death Grip works, but my understanding was that it happens when the user bridges the antenna and interferes with the signal. I've held the 9700 every possible way I can think of and the signal doesn't change. I'm pretty sure RIM has placed the antenna in such a way that this antenna bridging doesn't happen.

    If you're claiming you can make your Bold 9700's signal drop, let us know exactly how you're holding your device so we can replicate and verify.

  • Kyle McInnes

    Here is a good video of someone trying to replicate what Steve Jobs is saying:

  • Knottyrope

    My 9700 shows 5 bars when held with a iDeathgrip, the iphone 4 and 3gs wont even open safari when held that way.

  • Al

    No “death grip” issues with my 9700, Stevie boy. Go pick on someone else.

  • -Furbz-

    i've had the 9700 since the day it came out and have never experience something like Mr. Apple said today– he needs to go and attack someone else

  • snocrash

    do a teardown on a Blackberry and you'll see why. On many of them, the antenna is on the bottom of the device, not running along the sides. The Curve was like this up until recently (cant confirm yet on the new one). If you snapped off the bottom plate incorrectly, you'd cut the antenna off.

  • Ticonderoga

    I have never noticed an issue with my 9700 with reception.. However i did just couple my hands completely around the top and top sides of the blackberry and after 2 seconds the signal went down to 1 bar… Let go and a second later i am back to 5 bars. Maybe my wedding ring has something to do with it?

  • Trax95008

    well if you watch the video, you will see for yourself how the device is being held

  • Raj

    This annoyed me when I saw it! Yes all phones DO drop signal… by about 1 or 2 bars. I own a 9700. Two of my friends live in 2 seperate bad signal areas. Where you have to go to a window to use it properly. But i can still hold my phone normally.
    Where I live in a good 3g area, holding the phone with both hands will just about make it drop 1 bar.

    But each time Apple said there phone has an issue, they always added, “just like all other phones”

    If I was RIM, Samsung, Motorola etc right now I would NOT be amused.

  • Trax95008

    your totally wrong. jobs said they knew signal could drop if held a certain way. he also said that cell phones are NOT perfect. so they are NOT denying a hardware problem, but explaining that its the nature of the cell phone technology. second, they are NOT blaming the issue on software. the software problem is that it would display more bars than it should for the current signal strength at that moment. which in turn, made the bar drop more dramatic than reality. get your facts straight chuck!!

  • Mulligan

    Perhaps it's time for another Apple press conference retraction. If you put a bumper or case on Jobs it eliminates his false claims.

  • Bobbyz

    The key thing to remember is that it happens in “weak” signal areas. That is clearly stated in the presentation. So not everyone will be able to recreate the signal loss on their blackberry bold 9700.

    I can't get my iphone 4 to have a reception problem. I've tried it all over town and I can't it to drop anymore than a bar. I must be in a good signal area.

  • Bobbyz

    They are not criticizing other devices. They are simply showing that other devices exhibit the same behavior… there are plenty of youtube user videos of people showing it is indeed tru that the blackberry bold 9700 suffers the same flaw.

    Why doesn't consumer reports do antenna testing on the said devices from the apple presentation… then they can not recommend those phones either… that's what needs to really happen.

  • Bobbyz

    It's not going to happen unless you are in a “weak” signal area. That was clearly explained in the presentation.

  • Bobbyz

    If there was immense amount of hype around the release of the blackberry bold 9700… and it sold 3 million in 3 weeks… the reception issue it also suffers from would have reared it's head.

    There is a certain amount of apple hate in the world.. so any little thing they do wrong gets exploded into something big. I don't understand why people hate apple so much… and if you do… i don't know why they don't just turn a deaf hear.. don't buy the products… and just live their life.

  • richie rich

    Never had the death grip issue, but nearly every time I make a call it drops from 3G to gprs after about 90 seconds and stays that way until I hang up. It usually goes up to EDGE after I hang up. Gotta love technology…

  • Felipe Briones

    My 3G network works perf in Sweden, but my BIS/internet drops all the time on my 9700. Didnt have that problem whit my 9000 before.

  • burt reynolds

    Has anyone noticed the minimum bars column has larger numbers than the maximum bars column… Am I missing something?

  • Johnnyriv

    Apple is purely in a panic mode right now and they are trying to buy time and divert attention.
    This press conference shows the beginning of the iphone user frustration to come

  • KMc

    I agree My Bold (T Mobile) has been dropping the signal during calls. This occurs in heavy signal congestion and when the battery is very low. When I returned to T-mobile they simple replced my Sim Card.

  • sean

    A lot fanboys; no haters. But you are probably right, a lot people hate form over function regardless who does it.

    By the way, my Bold 9700 never dropped a single call since I had half year ago. I am a frequent traveler, happy with Bold 9700 in all conditions.

  • sean

    First, I cannot reproduce what Apple claimed with my Bold 9700, holding it “wrong way” or correct ways.

    My Bold 9700 never dropped a single call since I had it half year ago. I am a frequent traveler, have used it with 3 different networks so far. Voice and data always work no matter how I hold it or not hold it.

    Very often I do conference call with my Bold with headset or speak phone, because I hear other parties better than with a land line and other parties hear me better. When using with the included headset, the only other thing better is the Plantronics. Voice and data in fast moving cars work great as well. I am going to try it on a fast train.

    I accidentally dropped the Bold several times, once on concrete from about 4 feet high, yet it still works.

    I tried previous iPhones, none fit my needs. I will try the iP4 with bumper.

  • S|e|M

    I've never experience such issue before. After watching the video, I've been trying really hard to make my signal drop and it never happens… One hand, two hands, no such results. What I find weird is that if the antenna is located at different locations within the phones, (see the apple explanation on their website), how come the same hand position can affect them in the same manner? I really hope Samsung, RIM and Motorola (and Nokia too), come with scientific proof that this is not the case. I love apple but when things go wrong, admit it. Don't just blame it on others.

  • S|e|M

    By the way, I am using a Bold 9000 and I have around 20 users on 9700 (Pitty i got mine one month earlier than them…). None of them have problems with their signal.

  • Pandora_rocks

    Wait Steve Jobs uses a Bold 9700?

    I use a 9700 & I live in a basement suit where I get low reception & I tested it. It DID loose a bar, but didn't drop the call…It did NOT loose 4 Bars like the iphone4 (maybe that's what the 4 stands for in it's name) That being said the bar only dropped if I gripped it in a very awkward way…..The iphone problem is that it looses all it's bar if held in a NORMAL way. Maybe RIM knew what they were doing when they put their antennas on the bottom.

  • Koolpep

    Yes, I have experienced this, even dropped calls due to the handling of my 9700. However only in a spot where I have bad reception and it strangely happens the most on 3G, not 2G. I have the same issue with my Motorola Droid, Less with the Samsung Galaxy Spica for some reason. I don't have an iPhone so can't report on that.

    But the death grip definitively exists and it's common to al lot of phones. No big deal. Didn't understand the whole hype. Am using cell phones since 1991 (gsm) and believe me, at this time you new every single bar by name as the networks where very patchy :-)

  • Koolpep

    Oh, so besides having the same issues with droid and bold 9700 I must admit of course that this ONLY happens in an area with really bad reception. Most of the time (same applies to iPhone 4 users) there is absolutely no issue. I also used my bold in 8 different countries so far. Dropped calls I only experienced in one, which is sadly my office. Haha. Before I moved to the middle east, I had no idea what dropped calls were (Germany has some fine networks).

    Anyhow, if you have a good reception you can death grip your phone and it wil, not show any change. This is a rare incident for iPhones as well as bolds.

  • Halfsuperstar

    “Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.”

    - Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie

  • scottybones

    Apple is only partially correct about its claim on rim. On Blackberrys the antenas ARE on the bottom, no one ever touches the BOTTOM of the phone when calling. I tested this on my 9000 and after putting the palm of my hand completly on the bottom bars dropped to about 1. I still can't understand why Steve Jobs would bring other companys into this debacle when apple are the ones who made the phone incorrectly. Hands down its hardware. Steve jobs is so full of himself he doesn't want to admit that he was wrong, instead he wants to show you OTHER peoples flaws as well. That's like when your a little kid and u get in trouble and get cought….you say “well bobby pushed mike too!” Then the teacher says “well I didn't see boby!” Fucking little kids over there at apple. I swear to god.

  • rob

    do you believe everything you here? or is it just if it comes from Steve Jobs Gob

  • rob

    do you believe everything you here? or is it just if it comes from Steve Jobs Gob

  • stranger

    yeah i believe everything i 'here'. you obviously didn't even understand what steve was talking

  • Faddi98