Miracle chips to fix iPhone 4 antenna troubles

1 Sep 2010

Fed up of your iPhone 4 constantly dropping calls? Technology to improve the performance of mobile phone antennas has arrived and is set to grow at a huge rate to 2014, according to market research firm iSuppli.

Radio Frequency Microelectromechanical Systems (RF MEMS) is the developer of this technology and Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at iSuppli, predicts they will become a big player in the industry.

“The implementation of RF MEMS switches and varactors in mobile phones could help boost the performance of smartphones like the iPhone 4, which made news headlines recently because of a problematic antenna that resulted in dropped signal strength. RF MEMS are also ideal for impedance matching of the Power Amplifier,” said Bouchaud.

“More than 50pc of cellphones shipped in 2014 will feature some form of front-end-module tuning using RF MEMS technology,” said Bouchaud.

As a result, RF MEMS have seen that their revenue is projected to climb to $8.1m this year.

This revenue is predicted to increase to $27.9m in 2011. By 2014, it will increase to $223.2m – a massive boost from just $4m in 2006.

RF MEMS switches have been used in small amounts in instrumentation applications due to their small form factor and high RF performance.

While they had a lot of potential initially, they failed to take off thanks to numerous commercialisation and technological issues.

However, many firms are beginning to sample RF MEMS’ offerings.

Interest in the market is particularly developing on how RF MEMS can be used for front-end tuning of mobile phones to improve antenna performance, which could be the answer to many of the issues people have with calls being dropped.