Apple: iPhone 4 calculates bars wrong, fix on the way

By on July 2, 2010, 11:05 AM
Apple's iPhone 4 launch last month has been touted as the single most successful launch in the company's history, with 1.7 million units shipped in just three days. But beyond the numbers the release itself has been marred by a series of issues with the device's wireless reception, which can significantly degrade depending on how users hold the phone. Despite numerous reports, and videos demonstrating the problem, Apple has maintained that there is no problem.

In a series of informal email exchanges with customers, CEO Steve Jobs further exacerbated the matter by telling them to "Just avoid holding it that way" and asking a disgruntled iPhone 4 owner to calm down, claiming "It is just a phone. Not worth it." (Update: Apple denied the latter email was sent by Jobs, but it does seem to have originated from his account. BGR has the details.) Now, with a class action lawsuit pending, Apple has come forward with a formal statement. Their answer? It's not a hardware design issue, just a problem with the algorithm used to calculate bars of reception.


According to Apple, all phones suffer from a certain amount of signal loss when gripped in certain ways. The problem is some iPhones were displaying more bars than they should have, and in fact the attenuation users are seeing is likely because the signal strength in a given area isn't very strong to begin with. In essence the firmware "fix" they are promising will change the way bars are represented to report signal more accurately.

That, however, doesn't explain the related performance problems like dropped calls some users have encountered and how they seem to disappear when using a bumper case or by simply avoid touching the dead spot on its left bottom corner. It looks like we'll have to wait "a few weeks" to see if the update does anything more than just make the signal bars more accurate. Apple also said that customers can return undamaged iPhones within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.




User Comments: 27

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princeton princeton said:

"It is just a phone. Not worth it."

Funny. He didn't seem to think that way when he screamed from his ivory tower in the California wilderness that everyone must buy it.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

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This cannot be right,

"this software issue to calculate the signal has been wrong since the original iphone"

If thats true then why do I not lose signal when holding my iPhone 3GS?

Sorry apple, what crap you feed us.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

princeton said:

"It is just a phone. Not worth it."

Funny. He didn't seem to think that way when he screamed from his ivory tower in the California wilderness that everyone must buy it.

exactly...

SSaywell said:

Sounds like they are trying to get people to wait three weeks for the update to find that the update doesn't work but then the phone will be past the 30 days and can't be returned.

paynetrain007 said:

sounds like how apple works.

maestromasada said:

The apple has got a worm inside: it will rotten

Reloader2 said:

I am so unbelievably glad that I didn't buy this phone. I am happy with my 3G. Apple is full of bullshit, this is embarrassing for them.

Docnoq said:

I hope Apple gets nailed hard in a class action lawsuit. Perhaps that will make them treat their customers with a little more respect and stop blaming them for faulty products.

natefalk natefalk said:

Option A: Recall all ~1.7 Million iPhones and ship out replacements costing Apple untold millions of dollars.

Option B: Blame the software and keep promising that it will be fixed costing Apple nothing but it's reputation...which I suspect they aren't too worried about b/c of all the fan boys who think S.Jobs is a god among men.

Follow the money trail, which option sounds like a better business deal. It's all about mitigating damages and turning a profit.

mrtraver said:

I call BS. Anandtech measured a real, perceptible drop in signal strength.

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jink said:

So much anger over the new release of a single phone. Sheesh, you'd think the world ended.

Read the review over at Anand if your really interested in the non-paparazzi information on this phone. It will be a great phone once the kinks are worked out - and suing/cursing everybody left and right over a handful of words taken out-of-context really just points to ones own obscurations.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Apple's answer is pretty clever. Throw AT&T under the bus for your poor reception. I mean really Apple? You want to blame your only partner in the wireless business even after news sites and customers have demonstrated how reception get measurably better if you hold the phone with your other hand. So Apple, you say don't blame our hardware... that all sounds familiar. If I recall, it wasn't long ago that Apple was blaming my router if the iPad didn't work on the wireless.

And, who at Apple thought that the part of the phone which causes the most radiation was acceptable to put in skin contact any ways?

Maybe Apple needs another visit from AT&T engineer's to explain how wireless works.

Guest said:

Anandtech has shown that there is an antenna problem. Apple is just lying to their customers right now.

fish4specs said:

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

mrtraver said:

I call BS. Anandtech measured a real, perceptible drop in signal strength.

[link]

[link]

Are you really that surprised by Apple's response though? I mean, it IS Apple we're talking about... They've been feeding us bullshit for years, and we keep eating it because it's "Shiny" bullshit. I'm just waiting for Steve Jobs to change his damned clothes. Same outfit, every single day for 10+ years.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Hey Steve........Can you hear me NOW...........???? Steve........??? Steve............??

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

So instead of fixing the problem, the phone will now correctly display the fact you have no signal, instead of leading you to believe you have a signal. In either case you don't get a signal....

So they're not really fixing the problem, they are just making it more obvious that you have a problem.

or did I miss something...

A less popular solution solution that Apple's lawyers nixed was the option of removing the real problem, which were the user's fingers. Who needs a pinky anyway?

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

What Steve Jobs really means to say,

"In Soviet Apple, iPhone holds you!"

maestromasada said:

captaincranky said:

Hey Steve........Can you hear me NOW...........???? Steve........??? Steve............??

Try to send him an e-mail ..... opss!!! wireless is down on my iPad !!!.....come iPad!!. .... where is the Rj45 socket here anyway

Guest said:

I'm happy with the 3g too, and equally glad i didn't buy the 4, but I can feel myself slowly being screwed by the gradual decline in performance and speed on my 3g, and the increase in apps crashing since the ios4 update.. they're trying to pressure me into upgrading >{

ViperSniper2 said:

This reasoning is like telling people that bought a new car, that.... oh we under calculated the vehicles actual speed. So when the speedometer reads 20mph, you're actually exceeding the 30mpg speed limit. So now, we've recalculated it so you think you're going faster than you really are! ....aren't we just sooooo.... special! (flips his hand like a fag)

Now that's Magical and Innovative Design Engineering at it's finest! haha....

The new update also installs a NEW Self Stun Gun feature, so that if you touch it wrong, it shocks you. Think Different about Apple or Steve? His "Thought Police" can remotely... Dual Shock you. Where the SHOCK goes from your left hand, through your body and shocks whatever your holding in your other hand! :P

Guest said:

haha. "miscalculating" a phones reception bars is nothing like "miscalculating" a cars speedometer, at all. besides, its just a phone, every phone that comes out has its glitches and defects, regardless of who makes it. i'm sure there are way more people that don't lose signal, than people that do. everyone just pounced on the chance to make apple look like they mislead the consumer.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I applaud Steve Jobs for providing iPhone users with a free app...it looks as though the iRATE will be Apple's most comprehensive app yet.

"It is just a phone. Not worth it."
Does Foxconns' Human Resources team know Steve is appropriating their new motto ?

This reasoning is like telling people that bought a new car, that....

...the badge on it makes it's retail cost twice as expensive as it's similarly equipped competition

...the fuel tank will only accept gasoline from one particular oil company

...other road users will greet them by curling the fingers of their hand so that the tip of their index finger touches the tip of their thumb, whereapon they slowly move their hand and forearm in an up and down motion

...the GPS screen looks wonderful...but blanks out when you put your hands on the steering wheel

...it has no locks, since it isn't vulnerable to security risks.

JudaZ said:

iBullshit as usual .. " problem is some iPhones were displaying more bars than they should have" . .what? I thought it was quite the opposite *Lol* so if i hold the phone the "wrong way" after an update what will happen? I get negative reception?

kakarot27 said:

SSaywell said:

Sounds like they are trying to get people to wait three weeks for the update to find that the update doesn't work but then the phone will be past the 30 days and can't be returned.

yup >

Guest said:

Years of iPhone complaints about the signal issue now 1 random day somebody finally checks the equation used to tell how strong the signals are.... Ok I will play the dumb role here and believe that.

What's next? holding the phone to my ear causes the signal to drop? (new way to boost headset sales). Talking and walking makes the phone's connection unable to connect? (creates the iStand that sells Starbucks).

Isn't bad enough that we pay for 3G and instead of just adding a new 3g enable product to the 3G we am already paying for, we have to pay for another 3G plan... Apple is just a fancier Microsoft only difference Microsoft is open about the nickle-and-diming

Guest said:

moisture from your hand causes your phone to lose your signal (creates the iGlove with an Apple logo). 2 months later the iGlove causes your phone to overheat (creates iGlove 2.0)

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