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Cellphones Displays Iphone Wireless Networking Apple

iOS Update May Tackle iPhone 4's Antenna Problems 282

DJRumpy was one of several readers to point out rumors that Apple will soon be deploying an update to iOS 4 to combat the iPhone 4 antenna problems we discussed last week. This could be good news for users of the 1.7 million iPhone 4s purchased during the first three days of its release. (And no, Daily Mail, Steve didn't announce a recall, though there's speculation that this problem could be a boon for Android.) An anonymous reader notes an analysis of a teardown of the phone, which found that its parts collectively cost about $188, with the most expensive part — the LCD screen — costing $28.50 by itself. In other Apple news, Germany has demanded that the company "immediately make clear" what data it collects from customers, and what use it makes of that data (perhaps spurred by Google's Wi-Fi sniffing debacle).
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iOS Update May Tackle iPhone 4's Antenna Problems

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:43PM (#32719144)
    How a software update will fix an human-caused short circuit.
  • Didn't Jobs say.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:45PM (#32719188)

    All phones have sensitive areas," Jobs wrote. "Just avoid holding it in this way."

    Now the iPhone won't have a sensitive area? Huh?

  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:46PM (#32719206)

    It's all speculation at this point. But the best speculation possible is based on reports that the iPhone 4 was designed to look for towers with lower congestion, even if they might have a weaker signal. If this is the case (and I don't personally know) it's possible that this feature is simply too aggressive, or not aggressive enough about switching back to the strong tower when attenuation occurs.

    Speculation, as I said. I don't think anyone really knows for sure.

  • I know modern radio platforms have a lot of software flexibility, but the limited knowledge of antennas I've picked up from messing with long-range WiFi and my ham radio experiments tells me this is not something that can be patched out with an OS upgrade.

    That is unless the OS upgrade comes with a coupon for a free rubber bumper thingy...

  • What it won't fix (Score:1, Interesting)

    by countertrolling ( 1585477 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:06PM (#32719586) Journal

    You're in direct contact with the antenna (unless there's a clear plastic shield on it). Anybody feel a small "burning" sensation on their fingertips yet?

  • by Mazin07 ( 999269 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:07PM (#32719602) Homepage

    Do these people still not know how cellphones are priced? A 8GB iPhone 3GS is about $530, and prices for the iPhone 4 are expected to be $600 to $700. The $199 price quoted in TFA is only after you agree to a ~$2000 contract.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:12PM (#32719694) Journal

    This is the same thing they said about the EDGE/3G wobble in the Nexus One.

    The "update" didn't change a fucking thing.

  • by Ryvar ( 122400 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:18PM (#32719770) Homepage

    It's *possible* that the very slight short circuit of a user's palm is playing havoc with the frequency calibration system. This would also neatly explain why people are more often reporting that the signal gradually falls off over several seconds rather than instantly.

    If that's the case, then Apple *might* be able to retool the frequency calibration code to ignore the mild short circuit.

    In all likelihood, the answer is probably to ship all future iPhone 4s with a very thin layer of clear resin (nail polish works wonders on the existing ones)over the external metallic surfaces.


  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:47PM (#32720262) Journal
    If you do, do you experience the antenna shorting signal drop to zero issue? I'm curious, because 99% of the messages I see about this issue, on all forums, are from people talking about the problem, but who do not make any mention of actually have an iPhone 4 nor even of knowing anyone who has the problem. Now, maybe in fact everyone who has an iPhone 4 has this issue, but I am having a hell of a time trying to figure that out. And I'm trying to figure that out because I've got an iPhone 4 on order and I'd like to know if I should keep it. Android fans declaring, definitively, perhaps spurred on by the speculation of a specialist who doesn't have an iPhone 4 either, that the iPhone 4 has a fatal flaw does not tell me one way or the other. iPhone 3GS, 3G and iPhone owners saying that the iPhone 4 has a fatal flaw tells me nothing. The only people I want to hear from are genuine iPhone 4 users. So... do you have the issue?
  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @02:53PM (#32720354) Homepage

    Well yeah, but that was back in the dark ages when cell phones were expected to reliably act as phones.

    These days they're a fashion accessory. If it actually works as a phone is kind of a side point as long as you can have loads of garbage apps.

  • by shoehornjob ( 1632387 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:01PM (#32720490)

    In other Apple news, Germany has demanded that the company "immediately make clear" what data it collects from customers, and what use it makes of that data (perhaps spurred by Google's Wi-Fi sniffing debacle).

    While updating my Ipod touch (3gs) last night I noticed in the tos that you can control which apps have access to the service. I think this is a cool idea but I didn't see anything in the new os that allows me that access. It doesn't really matter that much for me as I usually turn location services off till needed but what is Apple pulling here? I'd be very disappointed if that only works with an iphone.

  • by Tetsujin ( 103070 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @03:37PM (#32721078) Homepage Journal

    What? Problem with the antenna? A pure hardware problem that will be solved with the next iOS update, i.e. software problem??? Here i am lost, since when we entered the era of quantum phones?

    The trick is that software controls the behavior of the hardware. So even if the basic problem remains, a software patch (blasting out more radio power, changing frequencies, whatever) could help reduce the symptoms.

  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @04:20PM (#32721820) Homepage

    Zapping your finger is probably the easiest way to get you to stop shorting out the antenna... and you'll probably learn pretty quickly to not to do it in the first place. Definitely a hack, but a solution nonetheless.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @06:10PM (#32723528) Journal
    Are you sure it's reception that's the problem? One test I've seen (update 4) [] indicates that you can still get downloads, but the upload and ping go completely away. Theoretically boosting transmit power should help that issue.
  • by greyhueofdoubt ( 1159527 ) on Monday June 28, 2010 @06:32PM (#32723798) Homepage Journal

    I've been using my iphone 4 since it showed up on the 23rd. Everything about it kicks ass except for making calls.*

    I haven't been able to reproduce the issues with reception dropping to zero. I tried it with my hands, with wire, by holding all the metal surfaces at the same time, but nothing happened.

    What HAS been an issue is the proximity sensor. Long story short, the phone does a poor job of knowing when it's pressed to your ear, the screen turns on, and you end up either dialing numbers or hanging up. I had an iphone 3g and this was never an issue. For a sense of how bad the problem is: out of the 2-2.5 hours I've talked on the phone, it has hung up over 10 times. These aren't dropped calls, they are actually my phone hanging up.

    Very frustrating, but I imagine it's something that can be solved in software.


    *which, fortunately, I hardly ever need to do.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @04:11AM (#32727606)

    Would the patents Nokia is currently suing Apple over cover those parts of the GSM/UMTS standard?

    Could this be the problem? That because Apple has refused to pay the patent fee that it's having to either try and work around the patents, or because it's out on it's own having no support from the developers of the standard because it hasn't licensed them?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"