Apple’s iPhones might look sleek, but when it comes to making calls, they’re one of the worst phones on Earth, according to new research. 

Scandinavian telecom authorities found that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus — when used in the left hand — had the worst signal strength in a test of 26 of the most popular mobile phone models, with the 6 and smaller SE also trailing. 

However, the iPhone models all performed better when used in the right hand. It’s suggested that the position of the antenna causes signal issues, particularly when held in the left-hand.

The study by professor Gert Frølund Pedersen from Denmark’s Aalborg University and the Nordic Council of Ministers discovered that cheaper models like the Samsung J1, Samsung S5 Mini and HTC Desire 626 were superior compared to iPhones. 

Pedersen explains Apple’s response to the issue and what consumers should be looking out for when purchasing a phone. 

Why did you investigate this issue?

The transmitter and receiver performance is very similar on phones and the only difference is the mobile phone antenna. Many people ask why mobile coverage is so poor in certain areas, so I have measured the antenna performance on phones to show the influence it has.

And what has your study revealed?

My study showed that there is a very big variation of antenna performance among phones. Up to almost 100 times more power is required for communication for the worse performing phone compared to the best ones. 

What about hands-free setups?

The results showed that for in-hand and next to the head usage, poor performing phones require more than 100 times power than in a hands-free setups.

Why are iPhones one of the worst signal receiving phones, according to your rating?

It is because of poor antenna design. However, when people use it in hands-free mode, it works rather well.

Is it possible Apple will make adjustments to their phones?

I have been pointing out these problems even before the launch of the iPhone 4. Apparently, they are not willing to do that. It also seems that the problems are greater in their newer phones.

What impact could your study have?

I wanted to help consumers who have problems with coverage, for example, in rural areas and basements, so that they select phones with good reception capabilities. Hopefully, it will also increase the awareness of antenna performance, which is a very critical parameter for coverage problems — and make the manufacturers focus more on antenna performance.

What’s next?

We hopefully will see these phones being labeled in the future. And there is a chance new requirements will be set to limit low performance.

-Dmitry Belyaev