HTC Droid Incredible

Kenneth writes in with the following issue: His Verizon Droid Incredible will play music just fine while sitting atop a box of golf balls. But put it on a purloined road sign, and things start going wonky. No, we're not making this up. Watch his video and, sure enough, things are just fine while it's resting on a cardboard box. But once it's sitting on metal, songs skip (how dare the phone leave Nine Inch Nails before it's told to!), or change altogether. Maybe it's a grounding thing akin to that screen "issue" others are reporting. Or maybe it's a not-so-subtle way of telling Kenneth it's time for new furniture. Check it out after the break.

[YouTube link]

Reader comments

Pro tip: Don't put your HTC Droid Incredible on metal


I don't think it's a grounding issue because the metal sign is painted, so the phone doesn't really touch the metal... I think the metal is just interferring with the antenna.

Technically the top layer is probably some kind of retroreflective sheeting, but your point about it not touching metal still stands.

I agree. Being THAT CLOSE to the reflective surface must be causing signal issues that the phone can't handle.


I am not sure it has much to do with metal either as I have experienced the exact same issue with the phone in my pocket while working in the yard.... I have no idea what was causing it but it happened repeatedly and I didn't have anything else in my pocket at the time.

Does he have a case on that phone? I've put my incredible down on metal before with no issues when its wearing the Verizon standard case.

It's funny he should put a cell phone on a metal road sign. It's such a common combination that you find every ten feet in every walk of life. If I put a baby in a burning fireplace, the baby tends to cry. Bet you wouldn't have guessed that! Maybe I should do a video?

You learn something useless every freakin' day.

Actually, metal objects exist all over the place last I checked. Doesn't have to be a road sign as you sarcastically suggest. But I guess tunnel vision agrees with you.

I think Shawshank's point is that being on a metal surface doesn't affect the Incredible. I put mine sans cover on my aluminum computer tower, no issues. But being on a street sign, above a server might cause problems.

Putting your cell phone on metal and having it act weird is the farthest thing I can ever think of from sticking a baby into a burning fireplace...

Was this tried on other metel surfaces? I ask, because I have a feeling it has nothing to do with the metal, but more with the reflective nature of the paint on the sign. I bet it's totally messing with the radio signals and causing the phone to work overtime trying to re-establish/maintain a connection. This extra work behind the scenes could easily cause other running programs to be paused or stopped while it prioritizes the signal.

If it was electrical, it would cause screen issues as well overall phone instability (ie: flickering).


Retro-reflective material, such as the material on that road sign, directs any wavelengths of visible light directly back at the source of the light. I would be willing to bet that at least some of the invisible wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation are affected similarly. I think it's a reasonable possibility that the retro-reflective material is negatively impacting the performance of the phone with it being in such close proximity to the phone.

The phone has to work harder to maintain or re-establish the signal. This could also cause jamming on the phone as the bounced-back signal (likely greatly distorted) which means the phone doesn't know how to read it or what to do with it. This could cause the phone to be bogged down with this process, causing other running programs to be paused or data from the program to be just lost completely.

Is this absoloutely the case? I don't know, but it is possible. If you have an incredible, try it on another metal surface, not a road sign, and see what happens. All I'm saying is that road signs have a coating on them designed to multiply and reflect waves and it might affect radio waves as well.

As far as the song change or skips ... try running you music app and also starting up a game ... bet you get some skips or pauses.


In the rush to assume its radio interference no one has suggested a method whereby such interference would affect with a simple mp3 player.
if Bluetooth headset was involved I could see out possibly getting swamped by reflections from the phones own cellular transmitted signal bouncing off the sign.

But absent that there is no obvious path of signaling a song change even with a heavy groundplane induced radio noise.

I tested this w/my incredible on my kitchen stove top, as well as on a matte finish pellet stove. no issues.

My phone doesn't have the grounding issue some people are seeing (touch screen won't work if not holding the phone). Perhaps this is one of those phones.

he's also plugged into a system on that metal rack. Id be curious if everything else there is properly grounded, and whether he's plugged into an amplified port (like a microphone port) or non amplified like a line-in/tape jack.

I was also thinking about the other devices and their grounding. I wonder if the issue would still be present without the cable connected to the Incredible.

Does this also happen with EVO given they are pretty similar platforms? Has it even been tested with other phones?

Shouldn't be an article unless demonstrating it only occurs with Incredible and is repeatable with several Inc phones.

Really hope the EVO doesn't do this. I'm sure it won't though, it didn't have the screen problems like the Incredible did.

not sure if this is related, but I noticed that my Incredible has serious problems with Stereo Bluetooth. songs drop out all the time - no problems with a hard wire connected. AND I had no trouble with Stereo Bluetooth with my Nexus One and iPhone before that.

Really??? All of this arguing over one little observation? Phil is just letting us know it could be an issue big freaking deal. All you wussies arguing over the cause of this effect need to drawer your pocket protectors and find a girl friend. At the bare minimum get a blow up doll. What a bunch of losers, its Sat go find some tail if you can (Rolling Eyes)

But you're here too ... reading all of this ... taking time to post a response on a topic you "say" you find pointless. Hmmm ...


I wonder if this issue is related to the issue with the touch screen not responding if you're not holding it?

My Droid turns into clock mode when I place it on top of my laptops keyboard. I guess there is just enough magnetism to make it change.

I'd like to see this guy disconnect his speaker and use the internal speaker. He has third party hardware in the mix, and who knows what grounding that stuff has.

Sort of unfair to heap blame on the droid without even mentioning his other stuff may be the problem, or even bothering to test without the other hardware involved.

Anyone else notice that every time he puts the phone on the metal sign, it is right next to that other audio device with the green light? Yet every time he places it on the golf ball box to correct itself, it is nowhere near the audio device. Maybe that device is also adding to the interference. Also, is the radio player open in the background on the phone? The one that uses the headphones as an antenna? If the phone is confused about what exactly is plugged into it, this could also be causing a problem.

I hope you figure it out. I posted a few comments up that I have seen this same behavior with the phone in my pocket (nothing else in my pocket at the time) while working in the yard the other day. It drove me absolutely bonkers! I finally had to quit listening altogether and just revert back to my old ipod touch.

I couldn't figure any rhyme or reason to it. as soon as it would happen, I would take the phone out of my pocket to see if I could see anything but the screen was off the entire time.

Hi there, I am the one who posted this video. Just to answer a few questions, I originally noticed this when I had the phone hooked up with the normal jack thats hooked up to the subwoofer (Bose Companion) so I decided to get a cable to plug directly into the sound dial thingy (device with green light) and was experiencing the same issue.
I really don't have an answer why this is happening, I do need to test more, it just seemed like a really strange issue and made me think of the grounding issue that another person was having (I think he has 3 videos out now). I haven't done extensive testing like he did, but I have noticed my phone will respond differently if I have it laying directly on a leather couch.
Well enough rambling, I will try and do more testing tomorrow while grilling, my girlfriend also has a HTC Incredible so I can test with hers as well

im not that genius when it comes to electrical engineering, but with that many wires and and metal around, wouldnt it create some kind of an electromagnetic field that would screw with things?

Well I should have no issue placing my phone on a road sign , and I have never had an issue sitting on my tool box, so I have no idea what is causing that , stupid story

It's not a grounding issue, it is a connection issue. he clearly has one bar on the box and that bar disappears once he puts it on the sign. Watch the vid and you'll see. The whole reception issue is seen on quite a few HTC devices, but with that aside the sign is on a metal stand that is undoubtedly grounded and that is killing the one bar he has on the golf ball box.

This is a closed case. Keep your phone away from grounded metal and faraday cages. Nuff said.

Where did you get the sign from? Were there any crop circles nearby? It could be alien influence. The other possibility is poltergeist activity.

I've owned several HTC phones... and it's crap like this (the screen thing, the 3G thing on the Nexus One, etc...) that is the reason I will NEVER own another one. Thank God for other manufacturers jumping on the Android bandwagon.

i dont get why people think this is a signal issue, he isnt streaming music from the web, he is using the stock media player, so he has these songs on his device.

Occam's razor folks. Why assume this is a device problem? I would suggest that either this guy wants some attention and set this up or with all off the random garbage laying within that area something is throwing it off.
Why does it have to be plugged in for this demo?
What is under or connected to that sign?
Perhaps he should clean up his laboratory/dorm?
This device does use radio frequencies, perhaps Professor Clueless should investigate other possibilities before dinging the phone.

It's not a grounding issue, it is a connection issue. he clearly has one bar on the box and that bar disappears once he puts it on the sign. Watch the vid and you'll see. The whole reception issue is seen on quite a few HTC devices, but with that aside the sign is on a metal stand that is undoubtedly grounded and that is killing the one bar he has on the golf ball box.