Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Bug Cellphones Iphone Wireless Networking Apple

Apple To Issue a 'Fix' For iPhone 4 Reception Perception 534

Lisandro and several other readers let us know that Apple has just released a statement addressing the signal issues a lot of users are having with their iPhone 4. They claim to have discovered the cause for the drop in bars, which is "both simple and surprising" — a wrong formula used to calculate how many bars are displayed for a given signal strength. "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. ... 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. ... We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G." Wired notes that there is still a signal drop when the iPhone 4 is gripped in particular ways.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple To Issue a 'Fix' For iPhone 4 Reception Perception

Comments Filter:
  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:24AM (#32772928) Homepage

    if(bar_count3) barcount=3;

    • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:25AM (#32772940) Homepage

      stupid slashdot html ruined that! That'll teach me not to use preview. if (bar_count LESS_THAN 3)....

      • Re:Formula change (Score:5, Informative)

        by matt4077 ( 581118 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:33AM (#32773074) Homepage
        It's actually the other way around, but never mind.

        Anyway, I'm not sure what to make of this. On one hand, this will certainly earn a fair amount of ridicule as it sounds like redefining reality to what Apple wants it to be. A fix to the Reality Distortion Field, so to say.

        OTOH, I've had some experience with sensors, and there's sometimes ambiguity to how the signals should be evaluated/presented. I'd guess that a logarithmic scale is a better fit for the relationship of absolute signal strength and perceived quality than a linear one. If they previously used a linear scale, this update might be appropriate.

        This doesn't change the fact that the signal strength changes with how you hold the phone. If the change manifests itself only in fewer bars, everything will be alright. If actual call quality or reliability is affected, this change won't do anything for that
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BobMcD ( 601576 )

          This doesn't change the fact that the signal strength changes with how you hold the phone. If the change manifests itself only in fewer bars, everything will be alright. If actual call quality or reliability is affected, this change won't do anything for that


          Dear Apple, please note that shifting the blame to your crappy, and exclusive, network partner won't work. You can't mitigate the act of holding the phone in a natural way via software update. The end result is still a dropped call, and with the thing up to your face you're not going to notice what the bars say anyway.


          Even if this were a true fix, and I don't believe for a second that it is mind you, but if it were you'd want to sneak it in via security update and THEN start laying blame on AT

          • by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#32773464) Journal
            Well, I guess we now know how AT&T got the idea that they have "more bars in more places" ...
          • It's Defective by Design (TM)

            For once, Apple copied Microsoft.

            Check the consumer protection legislation in your area. It probably has something along the lines of products needing to be fit for the purpose for which they were purchased for a reasonable length of time, taking into account the price paid.

            There are two types of warranties: Legal and Conventional.

            Conventional Warranty (limit your rights): We warrant foo for 1 year (no warranty on batteries, screens, keyboards, accessories, etc).

            Legal Warranty: Fitness for purpose for which it was purchased, taking into account price paid, etc. In other words, you paid $3k for that big-screen tv and it croaked 1 day after your conventional 1-year warranty expired? You can still use the legal warranty via small claims court. They can't hide behind the limitations of the conventional warranty - the conventional warranty is in addition to the legal warranty (which makes extended warranties stupid purchases).

          • Re:Formula change (Score:5, Insightful)

            by yabos ( 719499 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:05PM (#32774552)
            The "fix" will simply allow someone to realize their signal sucks to begin with. If they are showing 1 bar and the call drops then they expect that, but if they're erroneously showing 4-5 bars and the signal drops they think there's a huge problem. I think this "error" is not an error at all, and Apple really set this bar scale like that on purpose for marketing purposes. People always think more bars is better so they calibrate it to show 5 bars even if the signal sucks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Xiozhiq ( 724986 )

            Well, There are some issues with the calculation of bars. I could pretend I knew what I was talking about, or that I'd RTFAs, but instead I'll just post this link to a FANTASTIC review of iPhone 4 vs. iPhone 3g[s] vs. Nexus One reception under various holding-conditions. ALL phones suffer signal loss when you hold them. The iPhone 4 is just a SLIGHTLY more egregious offender than other phones. That being said, though, it is much better at having a high quality of service even with lower signal strength. Som

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Chardish ( 529780 )

            The end result is still a dropped call,

            Not to be an Apple apologist, but dropped calls were frequent on my iPhone 3G, and have been nonexistent on the iPhone 4 I've been using since launch. Same apartment, AT&T service, and I haven't been paying attention to how I've held the phone.

            Obviously, this is a statistically insignificant sample size of one, but lower reported bars does not automatically equal "dropped call," and many of the loudest and most vocal critics of the iPhone 4 issues have not been actual iPhone 4 owners.

        • Re:Formula change (Score:5, Informative)

          by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#32773466)
          With digital phones, it's not necessarily signal strength (cell phone parlance = RSSI, Received Signal Strength Indication) you want to display. You want to include some measure of the signal/noise ratio, since that is a better indicator of a phone's ability to communicate.

          And, in fact, that's what most cell phones do. For CDMA, it's usually some combination of Ec/I0 with signal strength, and for GSM it's some combo of reciprocal bit error rate combined with signal strength. Often time averaged and perhaps peak reading. So it's not just a simple "x dB RSSI = y bars" calculation. The combined metric is called SQE (Signal Quality Estimation).
        • Re:Formula change (Score:4, Informative)

          by broken_chaos ( 1188549 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:27AM (#32773870)

          I believe they are currently using a non-linear scale. I don't know the exact relationship, but it sure looked logarithmic at a quick glance. '5 bars' was covered by ~50% of the 'usable' signal reading. From what I understand, this is reasonably representative (perhaps slightly optimistic -- "look we have more bars" marketing strikes again?) of actual performance, so if they do too much tweaking, it'll be much less representative of real quality drops/increases. Plus that doesn't solve the fact that (some) people are actually quantifying this as a drop in data speeds or calls dropping when held in certain ways -- and not solely in 'number of bars'.

          Here's the link [] with numbers and more info.

    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:35AM (#32773106)

      First off I totally beleive this is possible. Very often my non-apple phones flicker between 4 bars and no bars.

      But what is remarkable about this is that according to Pogue, apple designed the phone to find the "best" cell connection not the strongest. Apparently there is a difference. Naively I could appreciate that a tower that oscillates between 4 and 0 is worse than a steady 2.

      Thus is it surprising that given they paid attention to that kind of detail they would get the actual formula wrong.

      My guess is that the formula used to pick the cell tower is distinct from formula used to drive the display. Or they did something like add a variance bias to the mean to represent steady weak towers as having more bars.

      In any event, assuming their explanation is correct, it does seem to jibe with their other public statements insisting that there is no actual problem, just a perceived one and that all cell phones do this to some extent.

      • Best would be most reliable, which at least to a non-engineer, would seem to be the strongest, although that might be more of a SNR sort of thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Since cellphones use a digital signal, it's probably based on the Bit Error Ratio (BER) like the signal bars used in my DTV receiver. The more errors received, the few bars are displayed. Also it varies from receiver to receiver - some will drop as low as 20% and yet still show a picture, while others need 80% to show a picture.

          It's completely arbitrary where the programmer puts the "cutoff" point, and it sounds like Apple's merely shifting the BER meter -1 bar. Nothing's really changed signal wise or er

      • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:56AM (#32773404)
        They are not solving the problem as reported, they are redefining the problem to something they can fix without a hardware recall.

        The problem as reported is that the signal strength weakens consistently when the phone is held in a certain way. This is clearly a hardware issue, but hardware issues are expensive to fix. So, Apple fixes a similar but ultimately unrelated problem via a much cheaper software patch and hopes their loyal fan base will just pay attention to the fact that *a* problem has been fixed, even if it isn't *the* problem everyone is complaining about.

        Unless Apple honestly believes this software patch will fix the actual reported problem, which I find very difficult to believe, they are acting in an unethical and customer-unfriendly manner in order to avoid the real solution, which would be to issue a recall of their flagship product and fix the hardware.
        • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:39AM (#32774108)

          The problem as reported is that the signal strength weakens consistently when the phone is held in a certain way. This is clearly a hardware issue

          All mobile phones will have signal strength weakened when you cover the antenna area with the hand. That's physics, not a design problem. Whether you notice the problem or not depends on how strong the signal from the base station is in the first place.

          The problem reported was the number of bars that this lost. e.g. from the article that was linked to from the first slashdot article on this issue:

          "Signal drops from 4-5 bars to 'searching for signal...' when I hold it in my palm or cover up the line on the lower left side of the phone," reported a user identified as "yoshjosh" on the thread. "I understand that cell signals may degrade when you cover up the antenna, but I have never seen anything this severe, and I'm not holding the phone differently than I think most people hold their phones. This is a real issue."

          Other phones might drop one bar when you cover the antenna with your hand. The iPhone with it's current software might drop 4 bars. That doesn't mean that the signal to the iPhone is dropping more than the other phone. Just that the algorithm used for the display is different.

          If Apple is switching to the algorithm that the US carrier suggests, then that is a perfectly reasonable move.

          Want to see the same issue with other phones?

          Nokia E71.

          HTC Droid.


      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:58AM (#32773446)

        Apple use a Qualcomm chipset for their UMTS (3G) radio access. That chipset controls which sectors (base-stations) the handset is talking to. In UMTS (3G) the handset can be sending/receiving data to/from multiple sectors anyway (called soft-handoff). Thats why both Apple and HTC or RIM handsets tend to be a lot slower to re-select between cells than your average Nokia - who use their own chipset. Handling the radio connections is all done by the Quallcomm chipset part.

        The issue here is in how Apple's OS - running on the ARM processor which is not responsible for the radio link interprets the numbers that are passed to it about signal strength and quality into a set of bars on the screen.

        Typically 3G phones use a simlpe measure of RSCP or RSSI (two signal strength indicators in UMTS signalling). What Apple seems to be saying is that the way in which they determined what number of bars to display for a given RSSI value was wrong. This is really well explained in this article -

        There are other paramters that are important though to how your phone actually operates. It is perfectly possible to have a very high signal strength in a particular location but very low quality/throughput. This can be caused by things such as Pilot Pollution - where multiple base-stations are interfering with each other. In UMTS (3G) this normally occurs if there are more than 3 base stations above a threshold signal strength. This can cause other parameters such as EcIo (Basically Signal to Noise Ratio) to be low despite the signal strength being high.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jittles ( 1613415 )

          Even if this is true this doesn't fix the fact that:

          I am left handed. I hold the phone in my left hand. Using my friend's iPhone 4 I see a drop in bars. Calling capabilities are diminished. IN the exact same spot I can hold it in my right hand and there is no problem.

  • by ender1598 ( 266355 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:26AM (#32772950)

    Just force hold it next to your ear like the rest of us!

  • for wlan at least (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dropadrop ( 1057046 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:28AM (#32772962)
    If my 3GS wireless bar is anything to go by I find this fairly easy to believe. It shows anything between full to almost empty reception (not affecting speed) in my home. I've never quite figured out what was causing it.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:28AM (#32772972)

    This isn't a fix for the attenuation caused by touching part of the antenna, it's a fix for a longstanding software issue that makes it harder to manage. The issue's still there, and if you're seeing lower signal or slower speeds on your iPhone 4 than your previous iPhone, the patch won't fix that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, but if someone has one or two bars and does something that is likely to degrade the signal strength (such as holding the device, which applies to virtually all cell phones on the market, which has already been discussed elsewhere, ad nauseum), you won't be terribly surprised if you lose a call. It won't be perceived as a sudden and drastic drop - it will now _correctly_ be perceived as a weak signal being lost. It may not fix the problem but it fixes the perception of the problem.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sockatume ( 732728 )

        Right, so it'll make it easier for people to pick up on the fact that they're in a weak area and that holding their phone might make the signal worse. So they can "manage" it by trying to find a better area.

        However just to emphasise, it's clear that this "holding attentuation" is stronger than with the 3GS, and even stronger than the Nexus One. That's a hardware issue that won't go away.

    • by Texodore ( 56174 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:45AM (#32773250)

      This needs to get out. anandtech did a bang up job [] investigating how strong the signal is based on the bars you have and found it to be logarithmic and heavily weighted to having 5 bars. This is probably a software fix to make it more linear. It's not fixing the antenna issue or all the dropped calls you'll still get because of the grip of death.

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:17AM (#32773692)

        If you are going to bring up the anandtech study, you may also want to mention that the article states when signal quality is low the iPhone 4 is much better at keeping calls alive:

        From my day of testing, I've determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I've never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4...In reality, reporting based on SNR makes a lot more sense, since I couldn't make calls drop driving around an entire day cupping the phone, despite being at -113 dBm (1 bar) most of the time.

        I've not had dropped call issues from the iPhone4. That's not to say you will never have a dropped call, this is after all AT&T we're talking about here. But I have had much better results in making and keeping calls compared to the older phone, so people who are holding off buying an iPhone worried about dropped calls are doing themselves a disservice.

        For me, tightly gripping has more of an impact on data speed than calls - and even then, it doesn't always affect data speed. But it's again a worthwhile upgrade, because the phone has better latency and so network use feels more responsive as per DaringFireball [].

  • If it's just about the bars, why didn't earlier iPhone versions have the same problem, then, if it's just that, and not the antenna design?

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:29AM (#32773002)

    Goatse man works at Apple.

    I mean, they had to pull that out of somewhere.

  • Worse! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 )

    Uh, isn't this even worse? They were inflating the apparent signal strength all the time! I guess this is one of those perks a cellular carrier gets when they obtain exclusive rights to hardware.

    So is Apple claiming it is also a superficial display problem when service is completely lost because of this hardware problem?

  • bars (Score:5, Funny)

    by mark72005 ( 1233572 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:31AM (#32773028)
    Well, AT&T does say "More bars in more places"
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      All you really need is one within walking distance of home.

    • Re:bars (Score:4, Insightful)

      by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:47AM (#32773300) Journal

      New AT&T logo -- "Less bars in more places?"

      AT&T has got to be hating this update. It's going to expose their lack of coverage in a HUGE way.

      • Conspiracy theories:

        Error intentional, to improve perceptions of AT&T coverage!

        Luke Wilson a cyborg!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sl149q ( 1537343 )

        If you read Apple's statement you'll see that they are changing the display as per AT&T's suggested standard:

            "To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength."

        That makes the previous behavior unlikely to be due to some secret cabalistic plan of AT&T's.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:32AM (#32773046)

    that Marketing fixed the bug!

    short compute_bars(double signal_strengh_dB) {
      # Original approach. Not sufficiently diplomatic. -John from PR
      # return min(0, max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB));
      # Better approach. - John from PR.
      # Commenting this out. You're an idiot. Display only has 5 bars. -Dave from R&D.
      #return 11;
      # This makes me feel dirty. -Dave from R&D.
      # Wrong code. See correct fix at bottom of function. -Steve
      # return min(3, max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB));
      # Simple, elegant. You guys suck at programming. -Steve
      return reality_distortion_field( signal_strengh_dB );

    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:56AM (#32773406)
      I have inside information. This is the actual code after the fix:

      if (user.fanboy) marketing.damagecontrol.emit("you are holding it wrong");
      else if (user.dumberthanthat) marketing.damagecontrol.emit("there was never a reception problem. we just displayed the wrong number of bars");
      else if (user.inclassactionlawsuit) marketing.damagecontrol.emit("here is a coupon for $20 off our $30 rubber bumper, which cost us pennies to make");
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by alexhs ( 877055 )

      Funny, but sadly you swapped min and max (and forgot closing parenthesis) :

      max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB)) >= 5


      min(0, max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB))) == 0
      min(3, max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB))) == 3

      Swapping min and max :

      min(5, log(signal_strengh_dB)) <= 5

      0 <= max(0, min(5, log(signal_strengh_dB))) <= 5
      3 <= max(3, min(5, log(signal_strengh_dB))) <= 5

  • by at10u8 ( 179705 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:33AM (#32773058)
    Did I just wake up in the future, because I can't stop myself from thinking of C.M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons [].

    Fix it in software? It's supposed to correspond to antenna physics
  • Anand Tech (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:34AM (#32773088) Journal
    There's a serious analysis here [], with some extra commentary by OS News here [].
  • by ZackSchil ( 560462 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:35AM (#32773100)

    Apple is both right and wrong here. They're right in that the bar display has been misleading from the start. They're wrong in saying that was some accident. Of course they know about it. More bars makes your phone look good and to hell with giving the user a sane metric for phone reception.

    They're right to say that the bare antenna in not a design flaw. They're wrong to conclude that this means it is not a problem. The only proper way out of this is free bumpers and dielectric coating over the antenna on future models. I know Apple likes to charge $30 for their $0.30 loop of rubber bumper case but this time, they could really be in trouble, so they need to suck it up and do what's right.

    And if I see one single comment pimping the Android in this story, I'll have all you Android fans know that you have become what you hate. Why can't someone use a product they like for any reason at all? Is that not allowed anymore, or do we all have to care about the same things you care about and use the same phone that you use?

    • by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:53AM (#32773366)

      And if I see one single comment pimping the Android in this story, I'll have all you Android fans know that you have become what you hate.

      No, I haven't become what I hate. You don't see me supporting an abusive, shitty company so I can have a trendy, overpriced device. I don't slap Google stickers on my car and blindly claim my device is superior to all others.

      Why can't someone use a product they like for any reason at all? Is that not allowed anymore, or do we all have to care about the same things you care about and use the same phone that you use?

      I love the fact that you are being preemptively defensive. If anything, its indicative of the fact that many iPhone users are emotionally attached to their overrated device and have an allegiance to a terrible company.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by e4g4 ( 533831 )

        I can have a trendy, overpriced device

        The iPhone costs the same[1] as any other (new) Android smartphone. Less, even, depending on how you calculate it. Now there is the fact that the data plan is no longer unlimited, but I dunno, 2GB is more than twice the volume of the most mobile data I've ever used in a month (even with tethering). But then, I operate with an ad and flash blocker, so I'd imagine others' results would vary.

        [1] AnandTech: Apple's iPhone 4: Thoroughly Reviewed []

  • by ThoughtMonster ( 1602047 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:35AM (#32773104) Homepage

    Apple is just trying to shift blame to AT&T for the disconnections.

    Unless the phone intentionally drops calls on low signal, this will fix nothing.


  • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:35AM (#32773110) Homepage

    It's well known that the iPhone has never reported reception as it should. So what, they fix this software bug and it becomes apparent to everyone that their AT&T reception sucks. So, is Apple trying to place the blame on AT&Ts shoddy service instead of taking the blame for designing a defective antenna? This is ludicrous.

    It's sad, if it was any other manufacturer, people would return these defective phones in droves and there would be a massive recall. Because it's an iPhone people are willing to ignore these issues that should honestly result in a class action lawsuit to extend the return period from 30 days to 60 or 90 days with a free optional rubber bumper. This whole situation is absurd.

  • Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

    Translation: Anyone with an original iPhone can FOAD.

    • by daid303 ( 843777 )

      Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

      Translation: Anyone with an original iPhone can FOAD.

      Anyone not having a iPhone 3G or iPhone 4 already is not a true follower of the Jobs, and thus is not worthy of the update.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How old is the original iPhone? How long do you expect companies to support old tech?

      No, really. It's well known in the tech industry that tech gets old and stops being supported at a certain point. Typically, it's when that tech is sufficiently old that the market of users has dwindled below a certain point. If you look into things you'll probably find that the original iPhone is both quite old by smartphone standards and it's use in the market has dropped below a threshold where it's logical to continue
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CmdrPorno ( 115048 )

        How old is the original iPhone? How long do you expect companies to support old tech?

        The original iPhone, if you bought one of the first ones, is three years old. The 3G was introduced in July of 2008, so there are two-year-old original iPhones out there that were the best you could buy at the time they were purchased. I'm not certain how much longer Apple continued selling the original model after they introduced the 3G, but it's entirely possible and likely that they continued to sell it for a short whi

  • So...are they taking signal SNR into consideration now, instead of just raw rx power?
  • log (Score:2, Funny)

    by cadeon ( 977561 )

    I wonder if it took Apple's Three New Antenna Guys to find out that they fail at logarithms.

  • by janoc ( 699997 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:45AM (#32773264)
    Software patch cannot fix signal attenuation from a hand. Why does this look like only an attempt to make the complaints and bad press go away by making the problem harder to notice? If you have no bars displayed, you wouldn't notice that you are losing signal from holding the phone, because you would be under the impression that the coverage is poor. And in an area with a strong signal you do not see the issue anyway, because the signal level is strong enough to saturate the meter even if your hand is over the antenna.

    It looks more like a clever way to disguise the problem and push the blame on the carrier by hiding behind poor coverage, nothing more.

    It reminds me of Sony (I think it was them) who "fixed" one of their overheating laptop series by having users download a "patch" that would turn off the power management in Windows and make the fans go non-stop. It certainly stopped the overheating, but at the price of shortened fan life and a very noisy machine ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Software patch cannot fix signal attenuation from a hand.

      Actually, a software patch *can* help when it changes how the software-tunable capacitors [] in the antenna system respond. Not that there's anything about doing that in this particular press release, but you're being a bit under-optimistic here.

  • by Dynamoo ( 527749 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:55AM (#32773400) Homepage
    Or a more accurate version.. “Upon investigation we discovered that we’d f—ked up the antenna design and were desperate to find a way out. So, ignoring the fact that the iPhone 4 actually drops calls and that covering the antenna with insulation such as a rubber bumper, tape or even nail varnish fixes the problem, we’ve come up with some guff about the displayed signal strength being wrong. So from now on, your iPhone 4 will only display 2 bars for signal strength no matter where you are, and if you have a problem with that I suggest you talk to your carrier. Hey, at least we didn’t have to shitcan our entire product line after only 42 days like Microsoft did with the KIN.. well, not yet”.
  • by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <> on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:01AM (#32773494)
    Anandtech posted a review of the iPhone 4 the other day and they have a break down of the signal strength in dBm compared to how many bars are displayed. The specific page is here [].

    Basically it looks like there is a huge range for what is considered five bars, and a small range for the remaining four bars.
  • by raynet ( 51803 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#32773532) Homepage

    Anandtech did some testing by enabling the now disabled fieldtest mode in IOS4 that allows you to see the actual signal strength in dBm and they managed to get -25dBm signal drops when gripping the phone. iPhone 3GS only suffered -15dBm drop and generally had much less signal attenuation when holding the phone optimally.

  • by willoughby ( 1367773 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:39AM (#32774098)
    The signal strength calculation algorithm is flawed until I touch the phone in a certain way. Then it's magically correct.

    Thanks, Steve, but I don't think I'll be buying one of these....
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:03PM (#32774528)

    Fits with my experience actually. I live slightly outside AT&T's coverage area. My 1st-gen iPhone often displays 3 or 4 bars sitting on my desk, but drops to 1 or 2 when I pick it up and make a call.

  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:24PM (#32774932) Homepage

    Can Slashdot users just fucking stop being parodies of themselves for even a little while?

    I read through all the messages and came up with this: The Slashdot users complaining here about the iPhone 4 don't even fucking have one. You turds.

    Same on other topics, not just the iPhone.

    The worst of the bunch? The Slashdot users who write things like, "I'm offended and will never [x] for the rest of my life." As if.

  • by calstraycat ( 320736 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:27PM (#32774976)

    To all the folks unhappy with both the performance of the new iPhone and Apple's response, please heed the advise in this portion of the press release:

    "As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund."

    Seriously. Please.

    All this ridiculous, over-the-top, self-righteous indignation and emotional hand-wringing over a gadget not meeting your expectations is just pathetic.

    Apple has taken a stand on this issue. They say it works as designed and claim the reception is better than their previous model. You think they're full of shit? Great. Quit posting whiney, indignant messages on the internet and return the goddam thing.

    If the problem is half as bad as all the stories make it out to be, Apple will be flooded with returns and that will have a much greater effect that millions of lines of internet bitching.

    Disclosure: I'm a satisfied owner of several Apple products. I don't own an iPhone and have no plans to purchase one. My wife and I have free-with-subscription LG phones on Verizon. Oh, and guess what? If I hold the phone by the bottom, signal degrades. If I hold it that way in an area with poor cell coverage, service is lost entirely. You think if I submit my sob story to Slashdot, Gizmodo, CNET, CNN, etc. they will make it front page news?

  • The fix... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mcferguson ( 733767 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @12:34PM (#32775130)
    Steve Jobs's Fix: cut off users' hands. They are clearly defective.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.