FutureFive NZ - Apple holds hands up to iPhone signal problem

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Apple holds hands up to iPhone signal problem

Apple has issued an open letter to all iPhone 4 users who are having problems holding their new iPhones correctly. Turns out you weren’t holding it wrong after all.

As previously reported, signal problems were spotted when the hand is placed on the phone’s steel bands in the lower left corner. At the time Apple boss Steve Jobs personally replied to a customer email with, “Just avoid holding it in that way”.

Now Apple has said it’s found the problem. “We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising,” said the company.

“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.”

To fix this Apple will adopt AT&T’s formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength.

Apple continued, “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 one, two, and three a bit taller so they will be easier to see.”

In the US a software update will be released that includes the right formula. Apple says this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, so the update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.

“We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same— the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped,” adds Apple. “For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate. For those who have had concerns, we apologise for any anxiety we may have caused.”

You can read Apple’s full letter here.


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