It is possible that few remember that the first mobile phones that appeared on the market carried a suitcase that contained the battery and a good part of its circuitry. They were monsters that represented a great advance in the market but were victims of the technological capacity of their time. Then everything was much bigger and cell phones were far from being small phones. Or comfortable.
Over time, all that changed, and so did their design. For example, before the antennas were external devices sewn to the mobile phone, often even extendable. But with the passing of the generations They were losing their size at the same time that they became more efficientand ended up buried in the bodies of the mobiles.
The first antennas were inefficient and better to move them away
The Alcatel OneTouch Easy, with a hard rubber coated antenna that (trick) could be reattached when you left.
That first “mobile” phone ended up, over the years, in the Motorola MicroTAC of 1989. The MicroTAC did fit in your pocket. But let’s not get sidetracked. We have come to talk about the antenna, that which was quite scandalous in its day and now seems to have disappeared. But he hasn’t. It is still there although hidden in the body. Sometimes through bands that cross it widthwise, other times accompanying the frame.
The reason for placing the antenna outside had to do with the efficiency in capturing mobile signals, which were then also weaker than the current ones (first generations such as 1G, 2G and even the first steps of 3G). The antennas had little gain and difficulties in establishing communication with the antennas, to achieve coverage, which is why they were removed from the telephones and even telescopic. The aim was to move the tip of the antenna (and the capture of the signal) away from the body of the telephone as much as possible.
By moving the antenna further away, less interference was obtained by obtaining a cleaner signal. The same happens with the extendable antennas of the cars, or simply with the fixed ones that are placed on the outside. Moving away from electronic components helped antennas improve their efficiency. Y in the case of metallic mobiles (and vehicles) to avoid the famous Faraday cage effect that also leaves you without WiFi in the kitchen or bathroom.
Over time, the efficiency of the antennas has been improving as well as their power, and the power of the networks themselves. Extendable antennas gave way to fixed antennas (I still remember my Alcatel OneTouch Easy and the antenna that came out when you dropped it on the ground, and you pushed it in), from there to smaller antennas and directly invisible antennas. The invisible antennas were integrated into the body but before becoming invisible as such, we “suffered” them in the form of drawings on the casing to continue being on the outside of the phones. Above all, again, of the metallic ones.
From outside to inside, but always present
The HTC One, with a design that made it easy to “cut” the metal back to favor coverage capture.
Now the antennas are completely invisible. How much can we get peek at them slightly by going through some frame but as a general rule it is very difficult to see them. When they are not inside the body in mobiles with plastic, ceramic or glass cases, they are very well hidden by the design teams of each brand. kudos to that LG G5 that hid its antenna behind a primer to hide it completely.
And all this has happened in a few years, not as many as it might seem. From that original 1G to the current 5G, with 6G already on the horizon, mobile communications have also improved in power and penetration capacity to make the work easier for the mobiles themselves. And so, the antennas have disappeared and we will soon forget that they even existed. That some were so long that they had to be made flexible, and that with the extensible ones we could play ‘light swords’.