Razr M Antennagate?

Discussion in 'Droid RAZR M' started by zbaba4, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. zbaba4
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    zbaba4 New Member

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    Thanks for all the replies since I started this. I have posted this issue on several forums and gotten enough confirmation that it is surely real. A lot of confusion too with people saying they don't drop calls, which of course has nothing to do with the data signal. I called Moto support and they have accepted this to escalate to engineering, I have a case #. They have actually called me back 3 times for more info. I hope this leads at least to at least an acknowledgement if not a fix. I will post the result. If the M sold several million the first week like the iPhone 4, you would hear about it.
  2. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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    Please keep us posted. it's the one thing holding me back from getting the phone.

    Btw, as far as you can tell is it only the 4g, and not the 3g, signal that is effected by this?
  3. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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    I went to a Verizon store today to compare signals myself. The razr M was right next to the og droid razr. 1x and 3g signals were nearly identical. The M's seemed to bounce around between -60 and -70 whereas the og razr's was more consistent at about -65 dBm, but overall both seemed to average mid-60s. This is consistent with many of the posts on forums I have seen suggesting the M gets a solid 3g signal.

    4g was unfortunately a different story. The M couldn't pick up a 4g signal at all. I even tried to force lte only, and rather than picking up a 4g signal, it had no signal of any kind.

    The og razr, in stark contrast, had a solid and consistent 4g signal of about -75 dBm.

    This comparison also seems consistent with reports that the M gets a weak or even no 4g signal at all where other Verizon devices get 4g.

    Honestly I was a bit surprised and disappointed that the M was getting nothing where the og razr was getting strong 4g. Maybe it was attributable to a bad SIM or something, but that was my unfortunate experience.

    Would still appreciate if people could post comparisons, especially if 4g lte signal strength.
  4. dan.dar
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    dan.dar New Member

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    Just came back from the store. Looked at dbm counters on razr, razr maxx, razr m, galaxy nexus, rezound and S3. The razr, razr max and rezound were all in 66-68 range even when picked up (didn't pick up the rezound). The galaxy nexus and galaxy s3 were both in mid 70s, high 70s when picked up. The razr M was in high 70s to low 80s and mid 80s to low 90s when picked up.

    Too bad, I almost ordered it last night, but now I'm definitely waiting till Razr HD comes out.
  5. josh1980
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    josh1980 New Member

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    Don't fool yourself with those db ratings. A phone with a -80dbm can perform better than another with -70dbm, despite -70 being a stronger signal. There's so many things that go into what is "an acceptable signal strength" that unless you are an amateur radio operator with a thorough understanding of the theory, you'll be lost.

    Not to mention alot of the information you need to determine which phone has the "most acceptable signal strength" you will have to obtain by looking up the FCC ID code from the FCC's website. Normally all of the "good meaty stuff" about a cell phone radio (all frequencies) are in documents on the FCC website, but some aren't. Most cell manufacturers do not publicly state the parameters you REALLY want to know to determine which phone has the best reception by submitting another document to the FCC requesting that the information be withheld indefnitely for reasons of "trade secrets". Let's not talk about software issues or how the software can drastically change the outcome of a "good" or "bad" signal.

    In short, putting 2 phones next to each other and looking at their db signal strength is no indicator at all as to how well one performs against the other, even if one shows more "bars" or db. Those "bars" are not required to be technically accurate any more than your battery is. Who has owned a phone that drops quickly to like 50%, then takes hours to go to 0%...

    This is why I continue to make the arguement in the Bionic forum that you CANNOT ever compare 2 phones and make a determination of which is "superior" just by holding them next to each other. Unless you start doing tests like the FCC does, you can only hope for anecdotal evidence, at best. At worst, it's random chance with a little bit of history on how a particular manufacturer has performed in the past.
  6. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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    To the extent you are saying the db numbers are meaningless, I'm going to go ahead and disagree. I think comparing db numbers on phones made by the same manufacturer is a good indicator of signal strength, especially where, as here, there are reports that the phone with the lower db signal has trouble holding on to a 4g signal. I think the combination of the lower db signal plus the practical consequence of dropped 4g connections is extremely strong evidence that the M has a worse 4g signal than at least the razr and the razr maxx.
  7. josh1980
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    josh1980 New Member

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    You do realize that a lower db number is a stronger signal, right? Everything else being equal, -70db is stronger than -73db. Each 3db is a doubling of the signal strength. Technically speaking, -70db is twice the signal strength of -73db.

    So you saying that those with a lower db has trouble holding onto a 4g signal is the total opposite of what you should expect. For most consumer equipment, once you get above about -85db you shouldn't necessarily expect(but likely will still receive) good transfer rates or even be able to maintain a connection. Once you hit about -90 you shouldn't be expecting anything for connections. I did see a flip phone in the VZW store 2 weeks ago that was designed for -110 signal! I was impressed. Of course, it was a $200 dumb phone made by....Casio, of all companies.

    If you really want to know that 2 phones CAN be compared apples to apples, look up their FCC IDs. If the RAZR M has the same radio characteristics as the RAZR, the paperwork for the RAZR M will basically say "this document is to indicate that the RAZR M uses the same radio as FCC ID: XXXX (RAZR) and is meant as a placeholder only". Then you KNOW you can compare them.

    Other than that, trying to compare 2 phones even from the same manufacturer is really not logical at all. You'd notice the difference in measurement between yards and feet, and that's literally what you are comparing by just grabbing 2 random phones from the same manufacturer. Like I said before:

    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  8. jntdroid
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    jntdroid DF Super Moderator Premium Member

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    Whether accurate or not, if the OS looks to dbm's to determine whether or not to stay in LTE mode or switch to 3G, then that can present a problem when comparing to others with lower dbm's.
  9. josh1980
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    josh1980 New Member

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    But that's NOT how it works. If you have 40db of signal, but interference is 42db, you're not likely to get ANY signal of any kind. Interference/background noise can be affected by the surroundings, but the design characteristics of the antenna and radio as well as the software will have an impact as to what the phone does. My guess would be that the phones have some kind of algorithm to compare 3G and 4G signal strength along with interference at various frequencies and then tries to negotiate with the tower for whatever the phone or tower thinks is best(as well as available).

    So no, you really can't compare them. There's literally nothing you can gain from comparing 2 phones that are different. Even with 2 phones that are the same model but different software, there can be differences. Some of the phones, if you look at the FCCID, actually has multiple revisions as they upgraded the software and changed certain functions.

    Really, truely, you cannot compare anything from one phone to the next. The "best" test a consumer can do is doing a speed test on one phone, then the other. Each phone occupies the same physical location and you don't put another phone in close proximity to the phone being tested. Having 2 phones next to each other can cause other problems because one phone broadcasting may cause strong interference for the other phone. You don't see that interference on your db rating though(which is one of many reasons why comparing db is pointless). Of course, this introduces a WHOLE bunch of other reasons why the test is worthless. You're assuming the internet doesn't affect the speed test, something in the environment changes(for instance, a semi truck drives by at the exact instance you are doing a test), etc etc etc.

    So again, I'll say it:

    If it makes you feel better to look at those numbers, so be it. But they REALLY don't mean what you think they mean. Besides, you never really explained why everyone says that lower numbers are indicative of bad 4G when the exact opposite is true. Just kind of goes to show that those numbers don't mean what people think they mean.

    If you're really interested you can find some Amazon books that will teach you a great deal about wireless communication technology. Unfortunately, like I said above, most of the cell phones' radio information is a "trade secret" and not provided by the FCC or any other body, so your only indicator of how well a model performs, on average, is by seeing what people say about the phone. My phone(the Bionic) is terrible at 4G according to many people in the forum. The Bionic allegedly shares the same radio as other phones from the same time frame, yet the Bionic has a reputation for just being awful.

    But give up trying to compare those little db numbers on the phone. They REALLY don't tell you anything about how the phone will perform compared to another. A yard isn't the same as a foot, and -70db on one phone is NOT -70db on another. The only thing that number would tell you is if you look at 2 phones that are the exact same model and software version you can figure out which phone is performing better at that moment. Of course, that's not entirely a good indicator because some frequencies travel better than others and each phone likely won't be connected to the exact same frequency. One phone just might have a better frequency at that moment.

    Those secret "trade secrets" are REALLY what you want to know. That would tell you exactly which phones will rock and which won't. Ironically, I haven't seen any Motorola phone characteristics at the FCC website, but the iphone 4's are clearly provided. They're pretty darn respectable too! I'd love to see a company compare different cell phones and provide that info to the public. Then we wouldn't be able to argue one phone over another. The tests would make it pretty clear which phones are good which aren't.

    I have a 3 foot long wifi antenna(looks like a baseball bat) in my house and I can tell you that I get wifi throughout my entire property, as well as 1/4 mile away. :) I know just at thing or two about wireless.

    Anyway, I'm done trying to explain to you why your comparison is useless. I don't plan to give you a course in electromagnetic theory and radio properties, and you are convinced that those numbers are actually important and provide "enough" value that a consumer should use them to help determine which phone to purchase.
  10. AdamaDBrown
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    AdamaDBrown New Member

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    Josh, you might want to climb down off your high horse and stop hijacking the thread. First off, you have the numbers completely backwards. -70 isn't "lower" than -73, because they're negative numbers. Secondly, no, dBm is not a flexible measurement the way you assert: in fact, it's very tightly scientifically mapped to real amounts of input energy. And a lower dBm can be directly correlated to things like poor antenna design or antenna malfunctions, signal processing errors, etc. That's the entire point of dBm as a measurement, to be able to have an exact scale. Third, it is dBm, not "db."

    Back on topic: I found this thread after Google searching for signal problems with the RAZR M. I received a demo unit yesterday, and I've been noticing extremely erratic signal strength. I'm still trying to nail down the circumstances. I have noticed specifically that how I hold the phone has produced readings ranging from -93 dBm if held tightly at the bottom, to -66 dBm if I hold it by the top and don't touch the bottom at all. Right now I just checked it, and it's flicking back and forth between -91 and -89. Meanwhile my Droid Bionic and Samsung Stratosphere, held in the same place the same way, are hovering on -80. Repeating the "grip" test on them doesn't produce variances of more than 7 dBm.

    I don't have 4G in my home area, but I'll make a point soon of going to one of the nearby towns that does have it to see what the 4G behavior is like.
  11. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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    Look broseph, I'm not sure what your agenda is here, and maybe I should have used the word "weaker" rather than "lower" to refer to signal strength. But if you have a Razr M and a Razr Maxx sitting side by side, and the Razr M is both showing a weaker signal (i.e., -90 dBm on the M compared to -80 dBm on the Razr Maxx), that creates a presumption that the Razr M actually has a weaker signal. When you compound that with the fact that the Razr M also drops its 4G signal while the Razr Maxx does not, it creates a VERY strong presumption that the Razr M does indeed have a weaker signal than the Razr Maxx.

    I completely agree with you that the "bars" of signal strength in the notification bar do not mean anything, but that's not what we are talking about. We are talking about the dBm signal strengths, and we are talking about actual dropped 4G signals.

    If you seriously want to argue that a phone showing a weaker dBm signal strength that also drops 4G connections does not have a worse signal than a phone showing a stronger dBm signal strength and maintaining a steady 4G connection, well, I don't think anybody is going to convince you otherwise.
  12. dan.dar
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    dan.dar New Member

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    Agreed. I ordered this phone today to try it out. Some people and reviewers have said that the signal is solid, some have said it is not. The model I saw in the store looked to be weaker than all others and was the only to drop down to 3 bars from 4 when I picked it up. Hopefully it's not indicative of all others, but I guess I'll see when it gets here. 14 days, so nothing to lose I guess.
  13. josh1980
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    josh1980 New Member

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    Did you look at my first post? I specifically called out dbm. I shortened it to db because you can't call out signal strength in dbi. It is assumed to be dbm. Dbi only applies to antenna design. Also, it is not technically incorrect in a forum setting or common discussion to call it db when you are discussing something that is clearly related to signal strength. If I said 14dbm antenna of -70dbi signal that doesn't make any sense.

    I never said that dbm is flexible. I simply said that there are so many variables that strictly looking at the dbm is pointless. Feel free to look at my posts! SNR, antenna sensitivity, etc play a huge part in how "good" a signal is. But keep telling yourself I'm full of it. I'm sure it'll work out well for you.

    You are, unfortunately, correct in my comment about the negative being higher/lower. I was tired when I wrote that post, which is also why I commented that I wasn't going to intend to discuss this further. Since you're having to argue points that meaningless for common discussion(dbm versus db) I'll remove myself from the thread since I'm clearly not discussing these issues with someone that knows what they are talking about and simply did some wiki searching and found a mistake to argue against.

    My only agenda was to explain that you can't compare 2 phones side by side looking strictly at the dbm. As I sadi above, SNR, antenna sensitivity, etc play a big part in how "good" a signal is from one phone to the next. Not to mention if one phone has a problem with software or its manufacturing process a single phone could give you a false high or low signal. Yes, false high can be possible due to software bug. It's similar to if I buy a Ford and a Nissan. They may both claim 30mpg, but that doesn't mean they'll both get that, nor does it mean they'll both be "off" the mark by the same value.

    Also, if I put 1000 miles on my Ford and the engine goes out, I would be a fool to say that all Fords get 1000 miles before the engine fails. That's exactly what you are implying when comparing only 1 single phone side by side. If you want to know how one phone performs against another start gathering statistical information in a setting like the FCC does. That's why I posted stuff previously that I've quoted at least once(I forget how many times because you don't understand me and I don't intend to keep quoting myself forever) that determining which phone is "better" is almost impossible since the reports the FCC would normally provide(and would tell you flat out which is better) are "trade secrets".

    Good day gentlemen or ladies.
  14. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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  15. dan.dar
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    dan.dar New Member

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    Just got my phone today. 4G is 2 bars (-112 dBm) vs 3 bars (-106 dBm) on my wife's Droid Charge. Speed test though consistently is giving me higher speeds on the razr M. In four tests the M had between 4500kbps and 10,000 kbps vs 3,900 to 8,000 for the Charge. So there might be more to the raw dBm numbers than meets the eye. I'll test it next week at work but so far so good.
  16. zbaba4
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    zbaba4 New Member

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    I'm back after my original post. I heard back from Motorola. They offered to replace my phone. No help. I did return it but I could have just exchanged it at Verizon. But why bother since three other Razr Ms did the same thing. I guess Moto says ........... nothing.
    From all the posts, I am happy to see a few people understand what I am saying and how it is proved conclusively. The Razr M receives a weaker 4G signal than the Razr/Maxx and apparently some other phones too. How much? 20 dbm of which 10 dbm comes from gripping it. Period.

    I also have heard from some people that ran tests on other phones, like the S3, and found it too had lower signal strength on 4G than the Razr/Maxx. So, not to make an excuse for Moto, it is reasonable to assume all phones are not the same in this area. The Razr/Maxx may just be the very best. The M may just be more typical.

    We'll just have to se if Moto steps up to this and carefully test the Razr HD, easy to do in the store comparing to a lot of phones.
  17. dan.dar
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    dan.dar New Member

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    Brother's in law house. Wife's Droid charge has two bars on 4g, I'm firmly stuck on 3g. Together with the other annoyances, this phone is going back.

    Sent from my Droid RAZR M using Tapatalk.
  18. phositadc
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    phositadc New Member

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    I think there is definitely a 4g signal issue with this phone compared to other lte phones on Verizon. Thing is, most people will never notice it. I'm also leaning towards returning mine because of delayed gtalk notifications on WiFi. However, I do plan to give the razr i a try. I just love the form factor too much to give up on it completely.
  19. TisMyDroid
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    TisMyDroid New Member

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    Just to be sure that everyone has done this, be sure your phone is not set to global data. Go to settings --->more... (under data usage) ---> mobile networks ---> network mode ---> select LTE/CDMA.

    For whatever reason, Motorola thought setting global as the default mode was best. It is not. Global mode will cause your phone to search many types of networks repeatedly and will choose what it thinks is the best which usually is 3g. It also uses much more battery.

    Also, do not use the number of bars as an indicator of signal strength. Motorola ICS does not display signal the same as most, where 2 bars on Motorola is often equivalent to 4 bars on another phone or on gingerbread. That is because when Motorola changed to ICS, they changed the range of how the dBm level was reported in the bar graph. Sorry, I do not remember the article source that discussed this or the exact figures but basically where -100 dBm used to be reported as 3 or 4 bars, it is now reported as 2 bars on ICS.
  20. AmishButcher
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    AmishButcher New Member

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    Thanks! Just switched it
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