Reader Eric Borkowski recently contacted with us a curious query regarding the Wi-Fi performance of his iPad 2:
Seems the ipad2 has antenna gate also, I have noticed this for awhile. If I hold the ipad 2 on the sides my wifi drops to 2 bars but when I move my hand away from the left side it speeds up again. I guess if I bought a case for it that would [m]ake it go away. Has anyone else said anything about this?
After scouring the internet, I’ve determined that, while Eric’s definitely not alone in his experience, the problem does not seem especially widespread. This forum at MacRumors covers the issue pretty well, identifying the “death grip” as any orientation where your hand covers the rear-facing speaker grill. Eric’s video, posted below, explains:
Other users, however, are reporting that this issue goes beyond regular (and physically unavoidable) signal attenuation to complete signal loss.
My suspicion, though, is that the problem is not inherent in the iPad 2′s design. In addition to the Wi-Fi antennas being located fairly well out of reach behind the Apple logo in the middle of the device’s aluminum back, iFixit’s tear-down indicates that the controller board itself is nested beneath an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield.
It is possible that there is some kind of manufactory flaw in random units (an electrical short, spotty insulation, etc.) that could account for this, but our advice to anyone experiencing this annoyance is to exchange the affected iPad 2 or send it directly to Apple for repairs or replacement.