The reception issues on iPhone 4, and advice on how “to hold it the right way”, has become the joke of the week around internet.
Almost every competitor with a grudge against iPhone had to chime in with their own version of “you can hold our device anyway you want and it still works” quip.
Looks like Apple is feeling the heat, and now they decided to address issue head on. Their conclusions?
Reception on iPhone 4 is just fine. Every phone gets weaker reception, when you hold it the certain way But we had a wrong formula to calculate the number of bars indicating signal strengths. We actually used this faulty formula for the last 2 years, in iPhone 3G and 3Gs too. We are working on a new formula for the next firmware update. As soon as it’s out, the problems will go away and you will be able to hold your iPhone anyway you want… If there’s enough signal, that is…
Here’s the relevant part of the press release:
Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.
To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.
It actually correlates quite well with the detailed analysis of iPhone 4 reception issues the AnandTech did.
But it still doesn’t address the the problem of the lack of insulating coating on external antenna, which is the primary reason for the problem, and why bumper cases fix the issue right now.
Let’s hope Apple at least quietly adds a thin insulator layer in the next iPhone 4 production runs.
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