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Verizon iPhone 4 teardown reveals antenna changes

Consumer Reports News: February 08, 2011 01:00 PM

Teardowns (as in documented disassemblies, to plumb its inner secrets) of Verizon's iPhone 4 by several technology websites suggest the phone has redesigns that go beyond those needed for the phone to work on Verizon's network. If accurate, the reports suggest that Apple, as we expected, has seized the opportunity presented by re-engineering its smartphone for a new carrier to also remedy reception problems with the AT&T iPhone 4.

A teardown of the phone by website iFixit , for example, provides a detailed picture of how the iPhone 4's antenna design was altered. In a Wall Street Journal story, iFixit's chief executive said he concludes that the changes were not all needed in order to accommodate the CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) network technology used by Verizon, rather than the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) technology employed on AT&T's network. "I don't think that just going to CDMA would have required the degree of changes that we saw," said Kyle Wiens of iFixit.

The teardown also revealed, says iFixit, that the new phone uses the same Qualcomm MDM6600 chip as the Droid Pro world phone, which supports both GSM and CDMA networks. That seems to raise the potential, at least in theory, of the new iPhone being interoperablethat is, able to work across a number of carrier networks. However, such interoperability would require reconfiguration of the phone's antenna and the addition of other phone components, including a slot to accommodate the SIM cards GSM phones require.

We expect to get the Verizon iPhone 4 in our lab by Thursday, and we'll conduct signal-reception tests of itand a new sample of the AT&T iPhone 4to establish whether or not the phones exhibit the shortcomings we found in our previous test of the AT&T iPhone 4.

—Paul Reynolds

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