When I reviewed the HTC Sensation earlier this week, I did not mention the issue on WiFi signal because I did not thoroughly test it with my review unit. Since the time of the iPhone 4’s death grip issue, we already knew that holding a phone is certain ways will reduce its signal strength. So we’re doing an in-depth test this time.
We did a quick test of that here last year which included the Xperia X10, Galaxy S and HTC Desire.
We’re trying the same test again with the HTC Sensation but this time, we’re looking at the WiFi signal when the handset is clasp at the right top side of the unit.
So we tested the unit we have along with another control unit (LG Optimus 2X) on two WiFi signals at home. Here’s the normal signal when there’s minimal touch point with the Sensation.
The WiFi signal strength is -50dB on the Sapido router and -43dB on the TP-Link router. With the Optimus 2X, it’s -53dB and -46dB, respectively.
After clasping the top end of the HTC Sensation, we got these results:
The WiFi signal strength dropped to -72dB and -86 dB, respectively. At the same time, the signal on the Optimus 2X also went down to -62 and -77dB for the two WiFi routers respectively.
So it looks like the signal drop on the Sensation is like -10dB more than our control unit. Here’s the clincher though. The WiFi signal indicator on the HTC Sensation would drop to 1 bar or zero bar during the grip test (coming from 4 or 5 bars).
This is where the issue started — that the signal indicator gives an impression that there is very weak or no WiFi signal at all.
So I tested that theory even further.
I ran Speedtest.net Android App on the Sensation with and without the grip. Here’s the result of the SpeedTest while gripping the device to zero WiFi signal.
The SpeedTest gave me almost identical results — ~200ms latency, ~950kbps download and 275kbps upload speeds over WiFi (both with the death grip and without it). You can see the screenshot above with the results and showing the WiFi signal bar at zero.
I went and dissected this even further so I ran a WiFi Analyzer showing live signal strength on a per second basis.
At -59dBm, the indicated WiFi speed over LAN is 39Mbps. Our assumption is that once we do the grip of death, the signal strength and the WiFi speed will also drop (close to zero or nil).
When I did the grip of death on the device, the signal strength again dropped to -82dBm. However, the indicated WiFi speed is still at 39Mbps. You will see in the screenshot that the graph fluctuated during the test.
If you are able to follow up to this point, I guess you will agree with me on the following conclusions:
- Gripping the HTC Sensation around the top end of the handset will make the WiFi signal indicator drop to 1 bar or zero bar.
- The drop to 1 bar or zero bar resulted to around 50% drop in WiFi signal strength. It does not wipe out the signal to zero or nil.
- Even if the WiFi signal dropped to 1 or zero bar, it did not affect the latency of the network connection nor the upload and download speed from the device.
I think, by this time, it is safe to say that the death grip is a non-issue.
You can also replicate this test with any of your Android smartphones. Just download WiFi Analyzer, Network Signal Info and SpeedTest.net app in the Android Market.