According to Pong Research, the 3G iPad has a proximity sensor which reduces the power of the 3G radio by up to 75% when the iPad is within 10mm “of the body.” “As a result,” the product page says, “all commercial cases for the iPad and iPad 2 also cause the proximity sensor to trigger, which can reduce your transmission power by up to 75%.”
All, that is, except the ones sold by Pong Research.
The problem? Try as I might, I can’t find a proximity sensor. The iPhone has one, which is how it knows to switch off the screen when you put it up to your face. The only external sensor on the iPad is the ambient light sensor (ALS) and the microphone (the iPad 2 also has its cameras, of course). Pong might be talking about the ALS, but if that were the case, the iPad would also lower its 3G power in the dark. I can find “3G Wifi Proximity Sensor Flex Cables for iPad” for sale by parts suppliers, but further digging reveals that these are ALS replacements.
So how does Pong’s magic and “unique” case work? The case which “provides the only solution which allows the iPad to be used as designed”? Get this:
“Pong’s unique design ensures that the antenna is exposed at all times keeping transmission power optimized.”
In other words, a cut-out over the plastic antenna window. Magic: A rhetorical bat and switch. You come for the imaginary unicorn sensor, and stay for the cut-out in an other wise ordinary case. Ordinary, that is, aside from its $80-$100 price-tag, and the “patented antenna technology [which] spreads and redistributes the electromagnetic radiation.”
Unless the mystery sensor can be reveled, this looks like snake oil. The saddest thing is that somebody might fall for it.
The Pong cases are available now, and actually come with a rather neat origami-like Smart Cover-like flap which folds into a sturdy stand.