Caught in Antennagate of its Own, HTC Defends the HD7 Death Grip

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has found its Windows Phone 7-powered HD7 handset in the middle of a controversy that’s reminiscent of a similar issue which plagued the iPhone 4 launch, also known as the death grip.

After a series of YouTube videos suggested that the company’s latest HD7 handset drops signal bars when gripped in a certain way, a spokesperson gave Computer Weekly a statement. It came after HTC’s chief of finance Hui-Meng Cheng insisted this summer that "the reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones," in a terse response to the widely reported iPhone 4 death grip issue.

It’s interesting, then, that HTC’s statement resorts to a similar language Apple used to defend the iPhone  4 death grip – meaning that all smartphones are affected by the antenna attenuation to a certain degree when held the wrong way.

Quality in industrial design is of key importance to HTC. To ensure the best possible signal strength, antennas are placed in the area least likely to be covered by a person’s face or hands while the phone is in use. 

However, it is inevitable that a phone’s signal strength will weaken a little when covered in its entirety by a user’s palm or fingers. We test all of our phones extensively and are confident that under normal circumstances reception strength and performance will be more than sufficient for the operation of the phone when network coverage is also adequate.

The side-effects of gripping your phone in a certain way became a headline story earlier this year when the media slammed Apple over an apparent loss of reception when the bottom left gap in the phone’s stainless steel band is touched. 

Because the story wouldn’t go away and threatened to snowball into a PR catastrophe, Apple was forced to summon journalists to a press conference at the Cupertino campus, where Steve Jobs blamed the press for fabricating the Antennagate scandal while insisting that the problem isn’t unique to the iPhone 4 and instead pertains to the industry as a whole.