Handset antennas strongly interact with the human body. When a user holds a handset during a phone call, the proximity of the human head considerably affects the antenna performance and eventually the quality of the wireless connection. Consequently, the assessment of the antenna parameters regarding free-space conditions is not enough to fully characterize the performance of handset antennas and a further analysis taking into account human head interaction is required. In this sense, this paper presents a study that deals with the human head interaction concerning two aspects: functional and biological. The first one analyzes the effect of the human head over the main antenna parameters (reflection coefficient, efficiency, and radiation pattern) whereas the second one evaluates the impact of the antenna over the human head in terms of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). Four representative prototypes of radiating structures are measured in both conditions in order to compare their performance: a dual-band Planar Inverted F Antenna (PIFA), a hexa-band PIFA with a slotted ground plane, a set of coupled monopoles, and a new architecture referred as compact radiating system based on the excitation of the ground plane through a set of non-resonant ground plane boosters. A figure of merit that relates the antenna efficiency with the SAR values is proposed for comparison purposes. The results demonstrate that losses caused by the human head power absorption. can be minimized if the antennas are placed in the edge located at a higher distance from the human cheek. Furthermore, the study reveals the robustness of the compact radiating system taking into account the human presence. This fact reinforces its position as an alternative solution to current handset antennas, capable of providing penta-band operation (GSM850/900, DCS, PCS, and UMTS) through ground plane boosters featured by their reduced volume of only 250 mm 3.