Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably know that the iPhone 4 has been out for just over a week, and users are having some signal failure issues with the smartphone. After initially dismissing the reports about the iPhone 4 antenna reception issue, Apple has officially admitted it exists, promising a software fix in a couple of weeks. But it is not as exciting as it sounds, though!
The (iPhone 4) Problem: “The biggest problem is with the antenna, the fact that if the phone is held from the left side, covering the small black strip that will cause the phone to lose signal. Some have dubbed it the “iPhone Death Grip,” and it seems to be a problem with just about every device.“
Apple’s Solution: “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.“
So supposedly, it’s a software problem with iOS 4 (and earlier versions), which Apple promises will be fixed in the next couple of weeks. Specifically, it has something to do with how the iPhone displays coverage and happens because, as per Apple’s claims: “iOS 4 (and earlier versions) erroneously calculated the formula which displays signal bars on the iPhone“.
This is what Apple said in a recent official announcement: “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 two more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display four bars when we should be displaying as few as two 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 four or five bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.“
But that sounds rubbish when you consider that calls go through just fine when the iPhone 4 is placed on a table without any contact being made with the phone’s circumference, but calls drop when it’s picked up. If there really wasn’t any reception there whatsoever, neither call would go through. So basically this software update will display less bars in places where low signal reception is detected. But it will NOT stop your iPhone 4 (and earlier versions) from losing signal strengths if you hold it from the left side, covering the small black strip.
I don’t know whats more annoying — the iPhone flaw itself or the statement Apple released telling you to hold it a certain way. “Don’t hold it that way” huh? Blaming your customers for a product fault usually doesn’t end well. So it will be interesting to see how Steve Jobs digs himself out of this particular hole. Interestingly enough, Apple claims the miscalculation was present “since the original iPhone,” so the fix will apply to older generation iPhones as well. In any case, Apple has at the very least admitted that there is a problem and they’re working on fixing it.
The fix will come via a software update in the coming weeks, and will apparently show users that where they thought they had great service is probably an area with fairly weak service. Of course, this doesn’t mean that gripping your iPhone 4 won’t degrade the signal, it probably will, but at least it won’t decrease dramatically according to what Apple is saying.