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

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the iphone-walks-into-a-bar dept.

Bug 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.

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534 comments

Formula change (4, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32772928)

if(bar_count3) barcount=3;

Re:Formula change (4, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#32772940)

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

Re:Formula change (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32772980)

No they said it's too high right? if (bar_count GREATER_THAN 3 ) bar_count = 2,

Re:Formula change (4, Informative)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773074)

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:Formula change (3, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773332)

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

THIS!

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.

Idiots.

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&T. Not preemptively!

Just flat out moronic.

Re:Formula change (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773484)

You definitely don't have an iPhone 4. I do, and can't get it to drop a call by holding it in anyway. Even smothering it with bold hands.

Maybe it's only people who have their head up their asses... that would explain signal degradation and dropped calls.

RSimple solution - return it. (5, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773540)

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 (5, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32772948)

There are bars in cellphones ? I'm drinking in the wrong place.

Re:Formula change (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773086)

I'm drinking in the wrong place

"Stop drinking that way. Why aren't you drinking Kool-Aid???" -Steve Jobs

Actual formula change (3, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Actual formula change (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773166)

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:Actual formula change (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773396)

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 error wise.

Re:Actual formula change (1, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773308)

Wow you really enjoy that Apple Kool Aide don't ya? "They told me and I believe it." ;-) ----- *I* suspect that the company is lying to us (as virtually all corporations do), and that there's nothing wrong with the number of bars being displayed. The display is accurate.

BESIDES it doesn't matter - a dropped call is a dropped call. If the iPhone 4 drops calls in areas where other phones (like the iPhone 3) worked perfectly, then the problem is not the number of bars displayed or the software. It's the antenna being short-circuited by the user's hand. I've seen this with my television - touch the antenna and lose the picture. It seems logical that iPhone antenna is experiencing a similar effect. IMHO.

Re:Actual formula change (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773522)

I've seen worse programming wrong. So what they say is certainly believable... even reasonable. Is it true? I can't know.

Your understanding of how Antennas work can only be counter with : Shut Up.

 

Re:Actual formula change (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Actual formula change (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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 - http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2.

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.
 

Not so perfect iPhone? (1, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#32772960)

So, instead of solving the problem, they just downgraded the problem??? Sorry iPhone fans, but it looks like your phone cannot event manage something so simple and base as signal strength!!!!!!

Re:Not so perfect iPhone? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773240)

Never mind, apple fanbois will lap this up. "I used to have bad reception when there where four bars or fewer, now it only happens when there are only two". Of course the only way to tell for certain if this is just papering over the problem is to compare reception with another phone in the same area.

Re:Not so perfect iPhone? (4, Funny)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773362)

So, instead of solving the problem, they just downgraded the problem??? Sorry iPhone fans, but it looks like your phone cannot event manage something so simple and base as signal strength!!!!!!

Nonsense.. Apple has fixed the problem of the bars going down by recalculating the scale. This is perfectly acceptable. It's an elegant cost efficient and perfectly practical solution. I mean.. If a warning light is blinking, just take the bulb out. No more warning light, problem solved.. yes?

for wlan at least (3, Interesting)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:for wlan at least (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773520)

Cellular reception is variable. When I moved into a hotel room for a job project, my cellphone had just 1 bar. It was enough to text messages but not enough to send or receive voicecalls. It was like that for about 1.5 days and then suddenly the signal jumped to 5 bars and stayed there. I theorized that my phone was "calling" out to the nearest tower, and it automatically reconfigured itself to "steer" the signal in my direction.

Applies to all iPhones (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Applies to all iPhones (2, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773220)

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:Applies to all iPhones (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773386)

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.

Re:Applies to all iPhones (4, Informative)

Texodore (56174) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773250)

This needs to get out. anandtech did a bang up job [anandtech.com] 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.

Re:Applies to all iPhones (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773576)

But it may mean that the "grip of death" issues are *far* less severe than originally reported. After all, if you were only getting 2 bars to begin with, having it drop from 2->1 instead of 5->2 isn't nearly as bad.

So, it's about how many bars it shows? (2, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 3 years ago | (#32772974)

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?

Re:So, it's about how many bars it shows? (1, Troll)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773288)

Virtually all phone have this issue. [appleinsider.com] When you introduce an object that can affect radio transmission, it can alter and degrade reception. A human hand can affect radio transmission. This affects all iPhones, Android phones, and probably every cell phone on the market. It affects the iPhone 4 _more_ than a lot of other phones, but other phones _are_ affected similarly.

Re:So, it's about how many bars it shows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773504)

Way to suck that Apple cock. No, it does *not* happen to every phone, no matter what Jobs says, since if I'm in an area with a weak signal, I've never lost the signal just by holding it. Whenever it shows any signal at all, it'll never drop just because I hold it. And that goes for every phone I've ever had, including the Android I have now.

Re:So, it's about how many bars it shows? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773358)

ALL AT&T cell phones I've used show this problem. I'm not sure if it's GSM or if AT&T is doing some trickery to make the phone think it has more signal than it actually does.

Sitting on the table, 5 bars. You try and text, call or answer a call, suddenly you drop to 0 or 1 bars. You may not even be able to complete the call.

Re:So, it's about how many bars it shows? (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773562)

My 3gs gets fairly different speedtest results depending on if/where/how hard I am holding it.

I wonder... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32772988)

I wonder how they found this 'bug'. Does anyone get the impression they started looking for any excuse for their crap design and this was the best they could come up with?

Re:I wonder... (5, Funny)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773094)

Does anyone get the impression they started looking for any excuse for their crap design and this was the best they could come up with?

"We need to do something QUICK! The media is raging on this issue! Even the general media!!! Even ads are mocking us!"
"We can design an isolation band to put on the phone, and market it as the next fashionable thing"
"people would rage it's not free and would cost too much to ship out to everyone.. any other idea's?"
"Recall! Redesign! WE HAVE NO CHOICE"
"TOO EXPENSIVE! and we just fired our antenna guys."
programmer: "I can write a tool to detect if they're lefties by usage stats..."
"... listening."
"And then adjust their reception display."
"What do you need?!"
"5 hookers, one masseuse, 2 days of coding and unlimited supply of skittles."
"GIVE THIS MAN WHAT HE NEEDS! Get to work! Good job."

Re:I wonder... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773354)

"What do you need?!"
"5 hookers, one masseuse, 2 days of coding and unlimited supply of skittles."

"In fact, forget the coding"...
 

More BS from Apple... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32772992)

I'm willing to believe that they are calculating bars incorrectly (what is a bar anyway, signal-to-noise ratio?).

But why does sliding your finger affect the bar calculation?

Once again, more shiny smoke & mirrors from Apple.

Re:More BS from Apple... (1, Insightful)

s122604 (1018036) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773026)

The algorithm must change upon moving your finger

Seriously this whopper might be too big for even the Jobs' reality distortion force-field to overcome...

Breaking news (4, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773002)

Goatse man works at Apple.

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

Re:Breaking news (1, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773278)

Goatse man works at Apple.

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

He's invaluable to their market research department. He truly represents the average Apple fanboi

Worse! (2, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773008)

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?

Re:Worse! (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773096)

I would have assumed that when people design phones that they talk to the cellphone companies and actually test their signal display against some sort of reference values. If they're saying they're that far out then either their engineering is a joke or they deliberately conspired to raise the numbers.

Re:Worse! (0, Troll)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773142)

I think they're claiming that the apparent drop in signal strength looks so severe because the signal is very weak in the first place, but not displayed as such. Most cellphone users are used to the idea that if the phone shows one bar, you need to move to somewhere better and that the orientation of the phone might matter. It doesn't fix the bridging issue, but it does explain why it seemed so severe to some people.

bars (5, Funny)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773028)

Well, AT&T does say "More bars in more places"

Re:bars (3, Insightful)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773300)

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.

There's an if statement for everything (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773040)

Nice
If(receptionBars.Count == 1){
    receptionBars.Count = 5
}

Re:There's an if statement for everything (2, Funny)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773188)

Nah, it was probably a rookie mistake like this:

If(receptionBars.Count = 1) {
    ....
}

Programming is so easy (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 );
}

Re:Programming is so easy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773218)

OK, funny funny. But just to be a debugging Nazi, the "min" and "max" functions are used backwards in the code above. You have to "max" with 0 and "min" with 5, otherwise you just force the value to one extreme. It makes sense if you think about it.

Re:Programming is so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773304)

**Woosh**

Re:Programming is so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773370)

Given that the bug I highlighted was not the point of the joke, I see no "whoosh-ness" in my Debugging Nazi activity, thank you very much.

And switching over to Grammar Nazi mode, you misspelled "Whoosh". :P

Re:Programming is so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773394)

OK, funny funny. But just to be a debugging Nazi, the "min" and "max" functions are used backwards in the code above.

How can you think it's funny while simultaneously demonstrating that you do not get joke?

Re:Programming is so easy (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773440)

OK, funny funny. But just to be a debugging Nazi, the "min" and "max" functions are used backwards in the code above. You have to "max" with 0 and "min" with 5, otherwise you just force the value to one extreme. It makes sense if you think about it.

Mod Parent up, as evidence of Linus' Law [wikipedia.org].

Why have a test suite if you can just post your code to Slashdot?

Re:Programming is so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773306)

# Original approach. Not sufficiently diplomatic. -John from PR
    # return min(0, max(5, log(signal_strengh_dB));

Will always return 0, you suck at programming.

    # Original approach. Not sufficiently diplomatic. -John from PR
    # return max(0, min(5, log(signal_strengh_dB));

Fixed that for you.

Re:Programming is so easy (4, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#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");

Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773050)

An iPhone walks into a bar... oh wait it was a guy walks into a bar and leaves his iPhone

Re:Joke (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773312)

An iPhone walks into a bar... oh wait it was a guy walks into a bar and leaves his iPhone

He probably had a similar problem to the iPhone when he left .... seeing two bars when there should only be one.

Cyril. M. Kornbluth was here (2, Interesting)

at10u8 (179705) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 [wikipedia.org].

Fix it in software? It's supposed to correspond to antenna physics

we already knew that (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773082)

But what about the "stop handling the iphone that way" issue ?

Come one, does apple think the users cannot figure if there is a problem with signal and a problem with a faulty antena ?

Do The Right Thing - A Steve Jobs Joint (3, Insightful)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Do The Right Thing - A Steve Jobs Joint (4, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Do The Right Thing - A Steve Jobs Joint (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773438)

You're right about signal strength bars.. they don't actually show the signal strength at all. Five bars only means that the signal is strong enough to work properly, not that it's the maximum strength. Imagine that the signal strength is acually 0 to 10, but the indicator only shows 0 to 5.. most of the time it will show 5. The same is true for a lot of battery indicators too.

Re:Do The Right Thing - A Steve Jobs Joint (1)

DJGreg (28663) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773572)

I was under the impression that the signal strength indicator formulas/displays/whatever were written to the specifications of the carrier, not the manufacturer. That's how AT&T et al can get away with saying, "More bars in more places."

Same old... (2)

ThoughtMonster (1602047) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773104)

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.

*sigh*

Nice way to pass the burden (4, Insightful)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773110)

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.

Re:Nice way to pass the burden (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773260)

free optional rubber bumper.

If it was made from babies it could be a rubber baby buggy phone bumper.

Way to avoid the issue entirely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773112)

Bullshit. I have and iphone 4 (and am regretting it) and I have to move my hand from a comfortable position to a ridiculous one any time I want to load pages (apparently the way I hold it on most calls has been okay, not that at&t reception is great to begin with). This is not an issue of a poor signal area in my case, I'm in DC and its about as good as it can be 90% of the time. Stay classy Apple. I hope the lawsuits about this are successful.

Original iPhone now unsupported? (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773116)

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.

Re:Original iPhone now unsupported? (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773200)

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:Original iPhone now unsupported? (2, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773458)

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 providing support for it.

So, feel free to hate on Apple for moving on from the original iPhone but it's a practice that has occurred in the tech industry from, well, the very beginning and every company does it. Every. Single. Company.

So, AT&T will look even worse? (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773152)

It seems to me that if the iPhone was over reporting the signal strength before it made AT&T look better than they were. Now people are really going to see how bad AT&T's network is. Maybe this is a plot to get people to switch to the Verizon iPhone rumored for January.

Apple/Dell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773162)

Looks like they are following Dell's buisness model for dealing with faulty hardware

log (2, Funny)

cadeon (977561) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773202)

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

It is just PR "managing" the bad press ... (4, Interesting)

janoc (699997) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 ...

Unfortunately... (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773360)

...the only way to compensate for a poorly designed antenna by software is increasing the broadcast power, which the battery won't be too happy about. Maybe they're really found an issue with the signal strength display, but given that you have two external microwave antennas which are really easy to short into one other [youtube.com], i'm still skeptical...

I give up, it isn't worth the effort (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773390)

I spent nearly 30 seconds trying to come up with a humorous comment that incorporated the term "iDrop", perhaps as a "feature not a bug" concept, and then realized I didn't really give a crap. Should anyone else wish to pursue this, I release it under what ever license people wish to use, with the caveat that any revenues generated as a result should be split 50/50 with me. Thanks for listening.

More accurate version.. (4, Funny)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773400)

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”.

I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773414)

how much ATT paid Apple to inflate their signal indcators..

Trouble with Bars (2, Funny)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773482)

So let me see if I'm following this correctly:
Public and Media: "OMFG! When I hold the iPhone in my left hand I lose half my bars!"
Apple: "No, no, no! It's not that at all! You shouldn't have had any bars to begin with! And in fact, NONE of the iPhones should have had bars!"

Anandtech may have an explanation... (5, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 [anandtech.com].

Basically it looks like there is a huge range for what is considered five bars, and a small range for the remaining four bars.

Cover a small design flaw by admitting to a lie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773498)

So the truth is they have been lying all making you think you have better reception than you do to get more sales?!?! Oh thats much better than a minor design quirk that requires a 1 dollar protective case you needed anyway.

More than just bar issue (2)

raynet (51803) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773532)

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.

Can Apple patch my bathroom scale too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32773554)

"I love my iPhone (not a "4"), and I love Apple. But I must say, I would LOVE to have them apply this software patch to my bathroom scale as well, so that the difference between me not being on the scale, and me being on the scale, is not so great. I feel that that "nothingness" it was recording before I got onto it was never real in the first place, and so that's why it looks like it takes such a big jump when I get onto it." -- genius comment on WSJ.com

Recalling an earlier Slashdot article... (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32773560)

...I seem to remember something about Apple posting job openings for antenna engineers, coincidentally at the same time the antenna problems hit the media. I guess now, since Apple figured out it was a sensor problem instead, they can hire their old engies back. Right?
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