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Android vs. iPhone 4 Signal Strength Bars Comparison

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the under-the-hood dept.

Cellphones 253

thisisauniqueid writes "In light of the clamor over the iPhone 4 Grip of Death, AnandTech recently reverse-engineered the phone's signal-strength-to-bars mapping. Because Android is open source, we can determine the corresponding mapping for Android in combination with the 3GPP spec referenced in the source, allowing the signal-strength-to-bars mapping for both Android and the iPhone 4 to be plotted on the same axes. This shows that the iPhone 4 consistently reports a higher percentage signal strength (as defined by the fraction of bars lit) than Android GSM devices at the same signal strength."

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frist psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787688)

all these phone stories are pants

Re:frist psot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788156)

As the family wagon pulled into a small truck stop in the middle of nowhere, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda's father turned to him and his mother.

"Who else is hungry? "

They had been driving across state to visit family and were now heading back home again. The problem is that it's a long drive and Robs portable Ogg Vorbis player ran out of battery a long time ago. Since then all he has had to entertain himself was his imagination, and like every other overweight manchild, his couldn't help but fantasies about things of an x-rated nature. All this had gotten him rather hot and horny so as his parents headed into the small cafeteria attached to the gas station he told them he was feeling a little car sick and needed to go to the toilet for a while.

"Okay Rob" said his mother. "We'll be inside having lunch, take your time darling. But make sure you have something to eat okay?"

"Okay" muttered Rob as he headed off in the direction of the arrow marked 'Toilets'.

He walked around the corner of the small service building close to where some other cars and trucks were parked, and headed away from the main road. The toilets seemed like they where pretty far away but that was okay with Rob, he would need some privacy. Around the back of the building stood a small wooden hut with two toilet stalls inside, Rob thought it didn't look much like a public toilet but he was in too much of a hurry to care. He entered the small hut and closed the door, unfortunately it didn't have a lock so he moved past the sinks and into one of the stalls. This door had a rusty old lock that looked pretty flimsy, but the other stall was not an option, it was just too filthy, so Rob closed the stall door and sat down.

He pulled his jeans down to his knees and removed his hardening cock from his tight underwear. He was old but hideous. 29 years old, Rob had a stocky build and was rather overweight thanks to his tendency to spend days and nights eating cheetohs at his computer; he had dark blonde hair and brown eyes and was covered head to toe in sickly-looking pasty-white skin. He began to rub his cock which grew even harder in his hand, at its full length it was about 4 and a half inches but looked larger as Rob shaved and waxed most of his body as it made certain sports easier. All of the fantasies from the car trip rushed through his mind and he felt his orgasm building up. He noticed the graffiti on the back of the door, there where some stupid tags but front and centre was a drawing of a large cock dripping with cum. Strangely this aroused Rob who was straight but he put it out of his mind to focus on the task at hand.

He was jerking his cock nice and hard when Rob heard footsteps outside the toilet and froze, worrying that it might be his parents or that he might have been moaning loudly, he sat in complete silence. The door of the bathroom opened and Rob heard someone enter, he listened as they walked slowly across the dirty tiled floor and stopped outside the stall he was sitting in. then, without warning the lock snapped off and the door flew open to reveal a large trucker standing there with his grubby hand holding the handle. He was big, he took up the entire door frame with his size, he was hairy too, beard stubble covered his dark rugged face and thick black hair ran down his exposed forearms. He wore a red checked long sleeved shirt that was rolled up to his elbows, black jeans, workers boots and a cap which covered more dark hair.

Tall and bulky, the trucker looked down at Rob, who was almost half his size. Rob tried to cover himself up but he was frozen with shock and fear.

"Heh heh!" the huge stranger laughed in a deep and menacing voice. "Listen up whore! I'm gonna fuck you hard and rough and you're gonna like it! No one can hear you scream back here so don't even try it! And if you don't do exactly as I say, I will pound the shit out of ya. Then I'll go and pound your mom and your dad too! You got that?!"

Rob sat there stunned. This guy was definitely not joking and Rob knew he had no chance against this guy, he was just too big and strong.

"Do ya hear me cock-slut?!!!" The trucker yelled as he moved forward and grabbed Rob by the back of the head.

"Yessssss!" Rob squealed back as his head was jerked down by the truckers' huge hands. The stranger stank of dirt, sweat and beer, Rob saw how dirty and grimy the guy was and felt the strength of his arms.

"Good!" said the trucker as he leant down to come face to face with his prey. "Now do as you're told and you will be fine! But if you don't act like you're enjoying it, then I'm gonna get rougher and a whole lot meaner! Understand?!!!"

"Yessss!" Rob groaned under the weight of his attacker strength. He knew that to disagree would mean that the trucker would beat the shit out of him and his family and he also knew there was no way to escape. It seemed hopeless, he was fucked either way. So he made a decision there and then. Rob decided to act like a female pornstar, he was going to do everything that he saw them do in porno's because if he did what the trucker wanted then it would all be over a lot quicker. If his parents came looking for him, then they where all in trouble. So it had to be quick.

With that, the huge, dirty trucker lifted Rob up and grabbing a fistful of his shirt, tore it off over his head. He then pushed Rob back onto the toilet seat and lifted his legs to pull his shoes and socks off, before stripping off his pants and underwear leaving him completely naked. He then threw his shoes and clothes out through an open window high above the toilet. Trembling, Rob tried to compose himself and act like the 'slut' this guy wanted.
The trucker blocked Rob into the stall and kept him sitting on the toilet as he undid his own fly and pulled out a big dirty looking cock. It was not fully erect but still nearly thrice as big as Robs. The trucker thrust it into Robs face and swallowing hard, Rob took it. He took hold of the thick, dirty cock and began to rub it, feeling it grow in his hands. When it became hard it stood at nearly 14 inches long and 4 inches thick. It was a monster, bigger than anything Rob had ever seen, even in porn.

"Now suck it bitch!" commanded the huge trucker.

Placing his hands on the truckers' hips, Rob licked his lips and opened his mouth. The giant cock wobbled just in front of his face. It was long, thick and dirty, much like the trucker himself, his cock reeked of sweat, dirt and cum. Rob leaned forward on the toilet seat, trying to get the end of the truckers' giant meat in his mouth as it swayed in front of his face.

Mouth open and tongue out, Rob seemed ready as the trucker thrust his massive rod into his warm wet mouth. His fat snake was so big that it stretched Robs lips and cheeks wide until spit and pre-cum began to run down his chin and naked body. He nearly gagged at the feeling and taste of this stranger's dirty fat cock in his mouth, but knowing the consequences of not doing what he was told, he began to suck the cock, moving his head back and forth along the truckers hard shaft. He was completely vulnerable and at the mercy of the strong, dark truckers sadistic desires.

"That's it, oh yeah! Good little whore!" moaned the trucker as he watched Malda suck his fat cock.

"I haven't cum in weeks! I need this badly, so you better make me cum!"

As he sucked the thick man meat in and out of his mouth, Rob took his hands off of the truckers' hips and grasped the shaft of his cock. He then jerked the huge snake as he sucked and licked its head. He looked up at the trucker and licked his cock head gently, before taking it back into his mouth again. Robs other hand found the truckers' balls which felt huge even compared to his cock. Its was obvious that what he had said about not having cum in a while was true, so lifting up his massive cock, Rob took one of the truckers' dirty, hairy balls into his mouth and sucked it softly before doing the same to he next one. Just like the massive cock, Rob had trouble fitting the balls in his mouth but he knew that the quicker he could make the trucker cum, the sooner it would all be over. He then licked the truckers' cock, all the way up the shaft from his balls to his head before sucking the end of his giant prick back into his mouth.

Rob was astonished at how easily it all came to him. Maybe it was due to the fact that he was incredibly horny before this all happened or the fact that it was so naughty and so wrong that Rob was even more turned on at being dominated so roughly. But sucking a big fat cock didn't bother him as much as he thought it would, he knew he wasn't gay, but there was still something about it that made his heart beat faster.

The trucker groaned in pleasure and relief before grabbing Rob roughly and turning him around, where he placed him on his knees facing the toilet. He then lifted the toilet seat up and pushed Rob forward until his head and neck squeezed through the hole in the seat. Robs' head was stuck through the seat which now rested on his shoulders with the trucker holding the seat above his head and pushing it closed again. This move forced Robs' head down into the toilet bowl and moved his ass up into the air. Robs realised what the trucker was about to do, but was powerless to stop him, especially now that he was trapped with his face in the toilet bowl just above the water.

The trucker pulled his own shirt over his head and kicked his pants and boxers off. He was now naked except for his big workers boots and baseball cap. He then knelt down behind Rob, his huge frame hulking over the trapped nerd.

"Hold steady you little bitch! This will hurt a whole lot more if your squirmin' around!" the trucker said as he lined himself up behind Rob and grabbing his victims hips he aimed his spit covered cock directly at Robs bare ass. Then he spat on Robs exposed asshole and gripping him tightly, the trucker pushed his monster cock slowly into Robs ass.

The pressure on Robs ass was very powerful until the big, fat cock of the mysterious trucker popped passed his butt hole and pushed deep into his bowels.

Rob screamed into the toilet bowl as he felt the truckers massive, rock hard pole drive deep into his ass, it stretched him wide but luckily it didn't rip his anus. His screams where muffled by the toilet bowl and the water, but it didn't matter anyway, the trucker was right when he said no one would hear him scream back here.

The trucker then began to slide his fat greasy cock in and out of Robs tight ass, thrusting into him hard until finally all 14 inches of his massive tool where deep inside Robs rectum, stretching him to the max. As the trucker pumped harder and faster into his butt, Rob was pushed harder into the toilet bowl, its putrid smell unable to take Robs mind of the rough treatment of his ass.

Rob was being completely manhandled, as the trucker, fucked his tight ass hard and pounded him into the dirty toilet bowl. After a few minutes of having his butt hole reamed by a giant trucker, Rob found the sensation to be slightly better, the pain had left as he began to loosen up and now it was just sex. Hard, dirty, violent sex!
The trucker then pulled out of Robs ass and pushed the toilet seat back over his head before picking him up and pushing him against the wall. Holding him by his ass, the trucker lifted Rob up the wall so that his legs where spread out to the side and his ass hole sat tantalizingly close, just above the truckers juiced up cock. He then lowered Rob down onto his hard pole letting it slowly push up into Robs' flexed butt hole. Rob grimaced as he felt the massive man meat push up into his ass. He was helpless in the truckers' strong grip, and found himself more turned on by it. Strangely, he liked being dominated like this. The trucker began to fuck up into Robs stomach, pounding his ass raw as he held him there, pinned against the wall.

"Oh oh oh oh!" Rob began to gasp as he was lifted up and down on the monster cock of the dirty trucker.

"You like that don't ya? You fucking whore! You like daddy fucking your asshole?"

There was no denying it now; Rob was really aroused by the whole situation. This combined with the extreme pressure on his prostate lead to something Rob never expected. His legs shook in the truckers arms and he arched his back against the wall as his limp cock began spurting a hot load of cum all over itself.

"Ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!!" he moaned as he orgasmed.

"That's right you fuck-toy! I told you that you would like it! You God damn slut!"

Robs orgasm seemed to turn the trucker on too. He pulled out of Robs' ass and pushed him down onto the ground where he put Rob over the toilet facing upwards and once again pulled the seat down over his head. Rob was now stuck sitting on the ground leaning back with his face looking up through the toilet seat. The trucker then squatted over him and stuffed his thick, dirty cock back into Robs mouth.

"That's it you fucking cum-slut! Clean that mess off my cock! Yes! You like that don't ya!"

Rob choked and gagged on the filthy monster cock that had just been deep in his own ass. The trucker fucked down into Robs mouth, forcing his hard cock down his throat, as Rob spluttered all over the truckers huge balls. He was being face fucked and there was nothing he could do about it. Then the trucker grunted hard as he came, shooting his steaming, massive load of cum hard into Robs unsuspecting mouth, right down his throat. There was so much cum that it spurted out of Robs mouth, squirting out the sides around the truckers cock spilling down Robs chin onto his chest. The trucker then pulled out of Robs' mouth still cumming like a fountain, and began to spray jizz all over Robs body.

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!!!! FUCK!! YES!!!" the trucker shouted, wringing the last few spurts of cum from his swollen balls.

"Aaaaaahhhhhh yes!"

His head now free from the toilet seat, Rob coughed and spluttered, spitting up cum and trying to wipe it from his eyes. He was drenched in hot man spunk, it was in his hair, his eyes, his nose, it dripped from his mouth and ran down his naked body. The trucker stepped forward again, still groaning, and began to slap the half blinded Rob in the face with his deflating cock.

"Open up whore! Drink the rest of the cum from my cock!"

Rob sucked the truckers softening cock back into his mouth and licked the cum from it, slurping the last remaining drops from deep within his balls. The trucker moved away, getting dressed while Rob struggled with the pool of cum he had been drowned in. As he finished wiping jizz from his eyes, Rob looked up to see the now fully dressed Trucker doing up his fly before walking back over to the toilet stall. He looked down at Rob, at what he had done to him, and laughed.

"Ahhh...I told ya you would like it! I knew you where are filthy little cum-slut just begging fucked hard the moment I saw you get outta the car with your parents! Now run along whore! Go and tell ya folks what a dirty little cock-whore you are!"

Rob heard the trucker laughing to himself as he left the toilet, leaving Rob drenched in a pool of hot cum, struggling to catch his breath. His ass and throat hurt. His whole body ached. With no clothes and no way to properly wash all of the thick white cum from his sweaty naked body, Rob wondered how he was going to get back to his parents, and what he would say to them, when they came looking for him.

first (0, Offtopic)

McTickles (1812316) | about 4 years ago | (#32787702)


gay bars (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787704)

Most iPhone bars are just thinly veiled gay bars.

noise floor? (4, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about 4 years ago | (#32787716)

These measures aren't very useful without considering the noise floor...

Re:noise floor? (3, Informative)

Sigurd_Fafnersbane (674740) | about 4 years ago | (#32787756)

The noise floor is around -174dBm/sqrt(Hz) depending on temperature.

This will be the same for all phones

Re:noise floor? (5, Interesting)

MattskEE (925706) | about 4 years ago | (#32788322)

You're sort of right.

-174dBm/sqrt(Hz) is the minimum that you can achieve at "noise room temperature" (290 Kelvin), because that is the spectral density of noise in the RF region that a black body will emit. But every component from the antenna, antenna switch, low noise amplifier, downconverters, filters, more amplifiers, and ADC's will add a certain amount of noise to degrade the signal further. This can be discussed as noise factor, noise figure, noise temperature, and so on, but those are all also equivalent to having an increased noise floor at the signal reaching the antenna, and by converting to input referred noise floor, the minimum detectable signal is often defined as the point where the signal power equals the input referred noise power.

This will definitely NOT be the same for all phones.

A very good cryogenic low noise amplifier like astronomers use for very sensitive radio telescopes might have a noise temperature of 5 Kelvin, corresponding to an addition of -191.5dBm/root(Hz) noise power at the input. However the low noise amplifier in a cell phone probably has a noise temperature around 75 Kelvin (1dB noise figure at room temp), adding -179.7dBm/root(Hz) noise power. The first amplifier would be able to detect a signal 15 times smaller because of its superior noise performance. In fairness though it probably costs about a thousand times more...

Re:noise floor? (3, Insightful)

nomel (244635) | about 4 years ago | (#32787780)

"the noise floor..." of the receiver.

I agree!

I think they should have looked at the signal levels that calls begin to drop or get garbled data. THAT would be more interesting. What if the iPhone4 is "over reporting" because it has a more sensitive radio? If I were apple, or any company, I would show signals bars based on the chance of dropping data, not the raw signal strength. With having half the range as 5 bars, seems like that's what they did.

*Disclaimer: I have a WinMo phone. I really don't give a damn about any of these platforms. None of them suite me.

Re:noise floor? (4, Interesting)

Mitsoid (837831) | about 4 years ago | (#32787902)

That would require they move away from their current setup that shifts away from 'inflating' your signal and 'inflating' apples awesomeness...

I think part of the issue is dB ranges of 0-~100 = 4-5 bars. dB Ranges 100-113 = zero-3 bars. You don't enter the '3' bar range until you're already on a weak signal, and can 'death grip' your phone to death. The article reported a max of ~24 dB signal drop from poor holding. From the looks you don't have to hold it too improperly to suddenly go 3 bars->disconnect.

This becomes an issue since people check their reception.. okay, 2-3 bars, im good... Then go make a call, or hold their phone to their head, and boom, 15dB difference, bye call.

The idea of "showing more bars to make users more comfortable" (or 'showing more bars to make people who think bars are standardized across phones think ours are better)... backfires when your 'bar' range doesn't properly tell people how close to disconnect they are and is 'mysteriously' goes from 3 bars to 0 -- like some people report.

Re:noise floor? (3, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | about 4 years ago | (#32787996)

That would require they move away from their current setup that shifts away from 'inflating' your signal and 'inflating' apples awesomeness...

Ah, but from what I've heard the last few days (and this is also mentioned in TFA) it was AT&T who told Apple "This is how we want you to report signal strength on the iPhone 4/in iOS 4" and while Apple isn't without blame (they were after all the ones who implemented this) it could just as well be AT&T trying to hide flaws in their network that resulted in the iPhone 4 reporting signal strength in a strange way.

Re:noise floor? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788416)

You have that backwards - Apple was NOT reporting the bars the way AT&T wants. (AT&T only recently published their "standard" for bars after the iPhone os software was done).

Re:noise floor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788486)

Just don't put your iPhone on the floor that way.

iPhone wins (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787728)

iPhone offers more bars overall than Android to obviously it is going to report more bars at a given signal strength.

Re:iPhone wins (4, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 4 years ago | (#32788260)

that's okay, my Spinal Tap smart phone goes to 11 bars !!

Re:iPhone wins (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | about 4 years ago | (#32788548)

Mod UP!!!

Well duh ... (5, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 4 years ago | (#32787742)

The actual signal is amplified across most frequencies by an obscure side effect of the reality distortion field. If you were an Apple antenna engineer you'd know that.

Re:Well duh ... (4, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 4 years ago | (#32787958)

What the difference between a Mac fanboy and a bicycle?

Slap a chain on a bicycle and it doesn't blog endlessly about how being chained up is an improvement.

Re:Well duh ... (-1, Troll)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | about 4 years ago | (#32788154)

What the difference between a Mac fanboy and a bicycle?

Slap a chain on a bicycle and it doesn't blog endlessly about how being chained up is an improvement.

Know how I know you're gay? You read Mac fanboy blogs.

Re:Well duh ... (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#32788276)

What the difference between a Mac fanboy and a bicycle?

Slap a chain on a bicycle and it doesn't blog endlessly about how being chained up is an improvement.

What's the difference between a Google fanboy and a bicycle?

Slap a chain on a bicycle and it doesn't blog endlessly about how iPhone users are chained up.

Re:Well duh ... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#32788524)

What are you trying to say?

Re:Well duh ... (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#32788560)

Huh? This variation expresses my view:

Why does a Mac critic have a problem with the chain on a bicycle?

It restricts what you can do with the bike.

Re:Well duh ... (2, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | about 4 years ago | (#32788088)

I believe the correct engineering term for this reality distortion field is called the Bogon force field. The Bogon flux is measured by a Bogometer, in units of "bars." Apple has the most respected Bogonomists in the industry, but the Bogon is a strange quark that mysteriously vanishes when a detector is used.

dB attenuation? (1, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 4 years ago | (#32787752)

How about phones just print the dB signal loss and be done with it? A number should be far easier for someone to tell about signal strength than guessing by 0-5 bars.

Re:dB attenuation? (5, Insightful)

Brian Recchia (1131629) | about 4 years ago | (#32787906)

Probably 99% of the population has no idea that -80 dB is extremely good and -100 dB is awful. Further, the curve is logarithmic, which makes things confusing because most people are only particularly familiar with linear.

Re:dB attenuation? (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#32787980)

They don't know that right now.

Switch every phone over to display dB directly and everyone in the world would understand it in 6 months, though some would bitch about it for years to come.

People don't need to know what the numbers MEAN, they need to know that at 100 it doesn't work, and at 96 just barely works, but 80 is golden, and they'll figure that out fairly quickly.

Of course in reality all people really want is the phone to give them a good reason why they lost their call, can't get calls or have shitty data rates, and that could more accurately be represented with a simple block of text when the users asks and a green or red light in place of the bars.

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 4 years ago | (#32788040)

That just makes it a great marketing tool, as long as you talk about Android phones "having reception of NEGATIVE 80dB! And they can download porn! Think of the children!". Just saying, if I was paid by the lie (I am, but not for Apple) I would be all over it ;)

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | about 4 years ago | (#32788104)

Easy solution: tell people it's kinda like golf scores...the closer to 0 the better.

Re:dB attenuation? (5, Funny)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#32788284)

An alternative could be to have it show a percentage between 0 and 100. As this might be too distracting perhaps just show them in groups of 20% each. To save space, you could leave out the number and just show a block.

That way you can easily show the strenght of the reception and made it understandable for everybody.

Re:dB attenuation? (2, Funny)

bmxeroh (1694004) | about 4 years ago | (#32788436)

Perhaps we could make each block bigger than the last?

Re:dB attenuation? (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#32788562)

An alternative could be to have it show a percentage between 0 and 100.

Why not colors? We're talking about color displays, here, so why not green when the signal is strong and your calls will not drop going to orange when it's iffy and red when you probably won't be able to make a connection?

There are lots of ways to display data in a helpful manner, but I'm not sure that's what the phone companies (both handset makers and telecoms) want to do. Instead, it shows me one bar, which is absolutely not at all helpful.

Re:dB attenuation? (4, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 years ago | (#32787930)

Of course. Because the average phone user knows what a dB is and would much rather see it than a bar graph. My mother was just telling me the other day that she gets a -10dB attenuation in the kitchen compared to the lounge.

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | about 4 years ago | (#32788038)

If you use the SNR it is not that bad.... It is always positive and higher numbers are better...

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | about 4 years ago | (#32787936)

How about phones just print the dB signal loss and be done with it? A number should be far easier for someone to tell about signal strength than guessing by 0-5 bars.

Yes, because "-70 dB" would be much clearer to your average cell phone user than "5 out of 5 bars"...

Keep in mind that many of those users also think it's a good idea to send text messages while driving. It would take a $10M advertising campaign just to convince those people that "-70" is better than "-100".

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 4 years ago | (#32788406)

So? change the comparison. 30dB is better than 0, non?

Whenever I see that on my wifi dealy, I always wonder, "70dB below what, exactly?" What are they comparing it to that is 10,000,000 times more powerful?

because most people don't understand decibels? (2, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 4 years ago | (#32787956)

How about phones just print the dB signal loss and be done with it? A number should be far easier for someone to tell about signal strength than guessing by 0-5 bars.

Because 90% of the population has no fucking clue what decibels are? A logarithmic scale is a recipe for disaster in the consumer marketplace.

Actually, I think the unit in question is decibel milliwatts: []

Re:because most people don't understand decibels? (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 4 years ago | (#32788034)

Because 90% of the population has no fucking clue what decibels are?

Are you serious? Do they not teach the Dewey Decibel system in school anymore?

Re:dB attenuation? (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | about 4 years ago | (#32787972)

You don't measure received signal strength in dB loss, unless you know exactly how much was transmitted for comparison. You measure it in terms of received power, usually in units of dBm. At the signal levels we're talking about here, you will see a range from -51 dBm all the way down to about -113 dBm. Good luck in getting anybody who's not RF tech-saavy to understand how a signal can have a negative level.

So, to make it simple on those who don't need to know (or really care about) the engineering behind RF communications, a simple 0-5 scale represented by signal bars is sufficient. It may be more accurate to add in the S/N ratio to the equation (if not already there) to determine the number of bars to show, but to expose the average cell phone user to that kind of detail will cause eyeballs to roll back into skulls.

Re:dB attenuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788146)

Ours goes up to 11

Re:dB attenuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788448)

How about phones just print the dB signal loss and be done with it? A number should be far easier for someone to tell about signal strength than guessing by 0-5 bars.

My Blackberries (8330 5.0.0, 9700 5.5.0) can do this, I believe my android based T-Mobile G1 (rooted 1.6) could too, and I am confident that it is either possible and hidden or possible with a jailbroken apple device. I have never owned an Apple phone, and will not since they are not marketed at people like you and me.

Summarising... (5, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 4 years ago | (#32787762)

All mobile phones have tradeoffs in antenna design in order to look pretty, because people don't like visible external aerials. Apple have come up with what should be a very good design but compromised it by not coating the metal in a dielectric layer. Apple have created bad publicity for themselves by coming up with a BP-like response to the complaints, but this won't affect their sales because Apple buyers don't take any notice of negative publicity for Apple products.

Re:Summarising... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 4 years ago | (#32788116)

All mobile phones have tradeoffs in antenna design in order to look pretty, because people don't like visible external aerials.

External antennas get bent or broken.

Re:Summarising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788224)

mobile phones get dropped

Re:Summarising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788328)

All mobile phones have tradeoffs in antenna design in order to look pretty, because people don't like visible external aerials.

External antennas get bent or broken.

Not those designed in Europe. []

Re:Summarising... (2, Interesting)

LodCrappo (705968) | about 4 years ago | (#32788166)

"Apple buyers don't take any notice of negative publicity for Apple products."

Actually, some buyers do. Not the hardcore fanboy types, but my gf's parents saw a segment on the local news about the iphone 4 problems and have decided to look at Android phones rather than blindly upgrading their current iThings to the latest model. They may still get an Apple phone, but they would not have even considered alternatives if it weren't for the issues.

I was surprised that there was any general media coverage of the problems with the iPhone 4. Between this and all the coverage of the goof up with the wireless connection at the announcement, they haven't been looking good in the mainstream news. I don't know if this will have any noticeable effect on sales, or if there is any way to know anyway.

Re:Summarising... (2, Insightful)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#32788362)

Make sure your gf's parents see this part:

Note that the Nexus One suffers from the same problem with 3G reception if you grip the phone along the metal strip at the back.

Re:Summarising... (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 years ago | (#32788188)

this won't affect their sales because Apple buyers don't take any notice of negative publicity for Apple products.

It won't affect sales because in normal use, the iPhone 4 has better reception than previous iPhones. If there was a real problem, that would affect sales, but the average phone buyer doesn't read slashdot and gizmodo, and so doesn't get put off by this sort of hysteria.

not a surprise (5, Interesting)

twinstead (80396) | about 4 years ago | (#32787776)

my wife's iphone constantly reports 3-4 bars and 3g in places where my motorola milestone reports 1 or no signal. it's not until she goes to make a call that -- oops! no coverage.

Telling the truth. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787806)

So it seems they were telling the truth...

dBm vs dB (4, Informative)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 4 years ago | (#32787810)

His graph is erroneously labeled in dB, which is an arbitrary scale, whereas it ought to be labeled in dBm, which is received signal strength.
In case you're wondering,the B is a Bel, which is a factor of 10. A dB is a deciBel, which is 1/10 of a Bel. dBm is decibels relative to a milliwatt of signal strength.

Re:dBm vs dB (1)

Beefpatrol (1080553) | about 4 years ago | (#32788296)

To be slightly but meaningfully pedantic, "dBm" should be interpreted effectively the same way "dB" is, (except you should add 30 to it -> 0dB == 30dBm,) because there aren't any units present. The "m" just adds the "milli" prefix to a unit that isn't stated. If you mean dB relative to 1 mW, you want dBmW. If you want dB relative to 1 mV, you want dBmV. If you've ever had an argument with someone about whether a "factor of 2" is 3 dB or 6 dB, this is usually because the 6 dB guy is unaware that he is turning a voltage knob but measuring the resulting change in power. If you have ever had this argument, you are probably a geek. (Just for posterity, a factor of 2 == 3dB *always*.)

Re:dBm vs dB (1)

Kakari (1818872) | about 4 years ago | (#32788476)

...a factor of 2 == 10*log10(2) *always*.


Re:dBm vs dB (1)

Kakari (1818872) | about 4 years ago | (#32788498)

And I dropped dB from the quote - 10*log10(2)dB, of course!

Re:dBm vs dB (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about 4 years ago | (#32788506)

To be truly pedantic, one would write the actual units being compared, but engineers are lazy. In the pedantically-correct universe, dBm would be dBmW, the dB you refer to would be written dBW, etc.

Re:dBm vs dB (1)

maxfresh (1435479) | about 4 years ago | (#32788566)

(Just for posterity, a factor of 2 == 3dB *always*.)

That last point that you made for posterity is not correct, because the definition of dB relates to power ratios, and a 2:1 ratio of power is 3dB, whereas a 2:1 ratio of voltage results in a 4:1 ratio of power and 6dB of change.

So, a factor of 2 is only 3dB when measuring power, because for power dB is defined as: dB = 10 * log(P1/P0),

and 10 * log(2) = 3

But when measuring voltage, a factor of 2 is 6dB, because for voltage ratios, dB is defined as: dB = 20 * log(V1/V0),

and 20 * log(2) = 6

So... (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 4 years ago | (#32787812)

...they independently confirmed a bug that Apple had already confirmed [] ?

Backwards. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787918)

You should perhaps rethink the temporal line on these events.

Re:So... (1)

alonsoac (180192) | about 4 years ago | (#32788432)

I am not sure which came first but it is good to hear a second opinion as I don't trust very much what Apple is saying these days.

'Fixed before' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787820)

With all the fuss surrounding Apple's announcement that will be 'fixing' the bars problem and the fact that this comes hot on the heels of the (unrelated) issue of the external antenna, can anyone shed any light on this comment posted earlier on Twitter and re-Tweeted by one of the BBC Tech program teams:

RT @BBCClick: RT @dadof_stella Apple is hiding something. The iPhone OS 2.1 update listed signal strength display fix in its release notes.

is anyone surprised? (3, Interesting)

bitbucketeer (892710) | about 4 years ago | (#32787824)

I'm quite sure that AT&T and Apple have always been aware that their phones were fudging the signal quality indicator on their product... Reality is hard to sell when your competitors fudge their numbers, too.

Re:is anyone surprised? (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 4 years ago | (#32788128)

heck, my understanding is that carriers can influence how many bars a phone will show via their base station config.

something about altering the minimum transmitted requirement for a call. As this requirement is then used as the zero point for the bar scale, one get multiple bars but so poor a signal thanks to the relative nature of the bars.

there is also the issue of channel saturation. full channels will not show up as zero signal on the bars, but you will still be unable to place calls or do anything else. The carriers can somewhat counteract this with placing more towers, and thereby creating smaller cells, but that will not happen unless an area is saturated over longer periods and/or with regular intervals (like say when a sport event happens to gather a lot of people in a small area every weekend).

Smelly code! (3, Insightful)

sohp (22984) | about 4 years ago | (#32787834)

Holy hell the code for the Android OS StatusBarPolicy in the file is a stinking mess. So much for Google having the best programmers in the world. A single public method -- installIcons() at the class level, and a pile of private methods doing all sorts of things. Hundreds of lines of different private variables and worst of all the slew of private anonymous classes.

This sort of mess make single responsibility principle weep.

Re:Smelly code! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787942)

iPhone code isn't much better. Just look at SpringBoard: it's Apple's official iOS dump truck. Need some random feature? Throw it in SpringBoard!

Re:Smelly code! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788090)

Shut your stinking pie hole. Apple programmers are the best in the world.

Re:Smelly code! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788234)

Why isn't this modded insightful?

Re:Smelly code! (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#32788016)

Ahh spoken by someone who cares more about what some guy in a book calls a style of coding than actually getting the job done.

Let me give you a hint, when you spend more time naming 'principles' than you do actually listing a real reason its bad then you make it clear you aren't actually a programmer, you're just a graduate that thinks he has a clue.

I'm sure you're one of those people that claims its never acceptable to use a goto either, to which the simple response is ... you don't know how your language works since when it comes right down to it, an if statement is a goto.

Re:Smelly code! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788216)

Ahh spoken by someone who cares more about what some guy in a book calls a style of coding than actually getting the job done.

There's no reason you can't get the job done and do it well at the same time. I'd rather work on well-written code by a "clueless programmer" than a spaghetti mess written by a top notch guru, every time.

Re:Smelly code! (1)

minniger (32861) | about 4 years ago | (#32788508)

Looks like java written by a c programmer... Which is not all that unexpected. Main problem with it is a severe lack of comments. First comment it then refactor so you might be able to deal with it longer term.

If the rest of android is anything like this then there's a lot of work to do for anyone trying to maintain it long term.

Good programmers have learned to write maintainable code... If they don't then they are not a guru, they are a hack.

Re:Smelly code! (2, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 4 years ago | (#32788526)

an if statement is a goto

Except that an if statement only goes to the line after the condition. A goto can go to anywhere. An if statement may be a particular case of a goto, but it is a very narrow one.

Re:Smelly code! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788338)

I can't speak for Google's other products, but I wouldn't be surprised if their C++ code is usually better than Java. It's Java, after all -- something they likely have interns working on.

Anyway, this comes as no shock to me. The only corporation I have ever seen that consistently produces good code is -- surprisingly -- Microsoft.

Doesn't really matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787868)

I don't know Steve 'Blow' Jobs to tell me what apps I can run and what apps I need saved from.

Fuck Apple.

Where are the posters from Friday... (2, Insightful)

Cogneato (600584) | about 4 years ago | (#32787876)

that commented on /. about how Apple was making false claims about the incorrect signal bars? Surely if the responders on Friday had the balls to stand on a pedestal and make grand claims based on no evidence, they can have the balls to come back and admit they were wrong.

Re:Where are the posters from Friday... (1)

Moridineas (213502) | about 4 years ago | (#32787904)

I guess posting on slashdot is like standing on a pedestal? :-p

Other than the analogy, I agree with you!

Re:Where are the posters from Friday... (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32787976)

I don't recall them complaining about bars, I recall them complaining about trying to fix reception with a software update. All this graph seemed to confirm is that somebody was working awfully hard to eliminate the 3rd bar while keeping the other 4.

Re:Where are the posters from Friday... (2, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 4 years ago | (#32788048)

No one was claiming that Apple's response was a lie, just that it was misleading. There is still a hardware problem that won't be fixed for the users who have these devices, unless they want to slap on a case.

so what if the calculation is wrong (3, Insightful)

renegade600 (204461) | about 4 years ago | (#32787888)

so what if the calculation is wrong or different between phones! It has nothing to do with the problem the iphone is having. If you normally have 4 bars with the wrong calculation, and you hold it and get no bars with the wrong calculation, then there is something wrong with the design of the phone, All apple is doing is trying to confuse the masses with technical facts hoping to confuse the issue and save money from all the lawsuits that are being filed.

Re:so what if the calculation is wrong (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 years ago | (#32788014)

Shame on Apple trying to confuse people with "technical facts".

They should of course accept that everyone is as ignorant as you about the fact that ALL mobile phones get signal attenuation when you hold your hand around the antenna.

Re:so what if the calculation is wrong (1)

renegade600 (204461) | about 4 years ago | (#32788522)

but not all phones have the antenna located in the area thats going to be held without some sort of shielding.

apple could have easily taken care of this issue if they would have designed the phone properly. instead they wanted to sell 30 dollar cases.

Bars are irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787912)

What's relevant is that the iPhone 4 goes from having great reception to poor reception, just by touching a little spot in a frequently touched location.

Re:Bars are irrelevant (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788178)

What's relevant is that the iPhone 4 goes from having great reception to poor reception, just by touching a little spot in a frequently touched location.

... as confirmed by inaccurate signal strength representation? Moron.

Two antennas! (4, Informative)

steveha (103154) | about 4 years ago | (#32787916)

The article is worth reading. Right on the first page it explains what is really going on with the "grip of death".

In other news reports I have seen about iPhone 4, it was explained that the iPhone 4 has a strip of metal wrapped around the body of the phone that serves as the antenna. Not so! There are two strips, of different lengths, serving as two antennas. One antenna is for WiFi and GPS, and the other antenna is for cell phone service. The "grip of death" happens when you make an electrical contact between the two antennas (on the lower-left corner of the phone).

According to the article, bridging the two antennas with your hand causes a drop in cell phone signal to noise ratio of about 24 dB. This can be enough to cause a dropped phone call, if you are already in an area with weak cell signal strength. If you are in an area with good cell strength, you won't drop the call and you might not even see the signal strength bars change.

And according to the article, as long as you don't bridge the two antennas, this phone really does do a better job of locking on to a weak cell phone signal.

So, if you have an iPhone 4, definitely invest in some sort of case that insulates the two antennas. And the article scolds Apple for not having put some sort of insulation over the antennas; presumably a future iPhone will do so.

Other pages of the article discuss other things. I did like the page where Anand explains why Apple's claims are valid that the screen is sharper than the human eye can resolve.


Re:Two antennas! (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32787990)

That's been known for a while. The question is, why on Earth did they not test the phones properly? And by properly, I mean in real world circumstances. It's not real world to have it covered in a fake mock up of a previous iPhone. Sure many, perhaps even most, users will put some sort of protective coating on their iPhone, but that's still not appropriate testing conditions. Given that you can only be sure that people can use it without, that's one of the conditions under which to test.

Re:Two antennas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788062)

That's been known for a while. The question is, why on Earth did they not test the phones properly? And by properly, I mean in real world circumstances.

They tried but Gizmodo stole the prototype.

Re:Two antennas! (2, Funny)

onefriedrice (1171917) | about 4 years ago | (#32788272)

That's been known for a while. The question is, why on Earth did they not test the phones properly? And by properly, I mean in real world circumstances.

They did have a long testing period, but apparently the only left-handed prototype tester lost his iPhone at a bar.

Re:Two antennas! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#32788346)

That's been known for a while. The question is, why on Earth did they not test the phones properly? And by properly, I mean in real world circumstances. It's not real world to have it covered in a fake mock up of a previous iPhone.

Remember that whole Gizmodo thing? Apple knew that's what would happen.

Re:Two antennas! (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 4 years ago | (#32788018)

It does work very well. I have an iPhone 4 (got it on launch day) and I can replicate the "signal loss" by bridging those pieces of metal. I do lose bars (so my signal wasn't fantastic to begin with).

I've been watching this whole thing with interest. I've seen a ton of reports that the 4 is better at keeping calls when in a low signal area, at that seems to match my experience. It's a flaw, but really it's not that big. I've learned to keep my left hand (which I usually hold my phone with) about 1/2cm higher, and I don't have problems. A bumper would almost completely fix it.

Mostly, this is a huge black eye on Apple's part. The phone works very well, and I'd imagine the problem will only really effect you if you live in an area with poor reception (which I don't seem to). If there wasn't such a simple physical action people could do to trigger this (say you had to hold you hand over the back in a certain way), I don't think we'd hear nearly so much about this. It' just so easy for people to trigger and associate with an action, it seems much worse than with other phones that drop your calls where you can't be sure why your signal is being lowered.

I like my phone. I won't return it, it works fine for me. It's kind of sad to watch. Consumer Reports [] says there is no reason not to buy. I'll admit if I didn't have one launch day, I would probably wait a little longer to see what happened. But I'm in love with my retina display.

Basically: much ado about something that's not that bad. See chart [] .

Also, for a good humorous take on all this, I highly recommend John Gruber's hilarious translation [] of Apple's "apology" letter.

Re:Two antennas! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 4 years ago | (#32788352)

Oh yeah I feel so bad for them. They only made one little mistake, and all that mistake does is catastrophically degrade signal levels unless the user holds the phone in a way that may be uncomfortable to many or even most users.

All they did was design a device where you have to fundamentally change your own personal habits to fit their phone, rather than spending ten minutes of QA to notice and designing the phone to fit the users instead.

I feel so bad that they're getting guff for this minor flaw, and so many of their customers are such jerks for not wanting to change their habits so apple doesn't have to waste eighty cents to send a f*king rubber band via first class mail.

Re:Two antennas! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788456)

"Hey! They're Apple, god damn it! Either hold the fucking phone the way they want you to, or go get some hippie Android phone!" This retarded thinking is exactly why buying shit from Cupertino is a bad idea.

Re:Two antennas! (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | about 4 years ago | (#32788478)

Well to be fair, when it comes to Apple the user always had to adjust his way of working to them, be it their phones or OS's

Re:Two antennas! (1)

phonewebcam (446772) | about 4 years ago | (#32788144)

Does this [] illustration help explain how it happened?

Re:Two antennas! (1)

devent (1627873) | about 4 years ago | (#32788430)

Is that the distortion field in action? First you telling me that the phone will drop the call if I hold it in my hand, but secondly you telling that's the iPhone is actually superior to other phones. Third, you telling it's actually my problem for holding the phone wrong in my hand and finally you telling me that with the next iPhone it will all be better and we should just wait and spend another 500$ (or whatever it will cost).

Frame Error Rate (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32787932)

Why not use Frame Error Rate to indicate signal quality?

After all, Signal Strength tells you little if the Signal-To-Noise ratio is low. ... Alan

Re:Frame Error Rate (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 4 years ago | (#32788028)

Because it's not always receiving frames? Until you initiated a stream, there's no frames to check the error counts of.

What does OSS have to do with it? (4, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#32788042)


You're comparing the iPhone using some physical technique to infer the signal level to bar mapping, taking into account all the variables of the phone hardware ...

And on Android you're just looking at the source ... not even the phone itself ...

And this is supposed to be some sort of comparison? Whats next? Submarine A goes 25 knots submerged, Space Shuttle X launches into space at 36k knots. Which one will get you to BurgerKing first?

When you compare things using completely unrelated ways of gathering your input data you find that your results are ALWAYS wrong, even if you can't see it or they agree/disagree with what you thought.

OS 2.1 (5, Interesting)

MConlon (246624) | about 4 years ago | (#32788044)

After I got my iPhone 3G the very next software update included a change to the "bar algorithm" that was marketed as "improving user understanding of the signal meter" or somesuch. It was in response to user complaints of low signal strength, and somehow (miraculously) the reception improved... more bars.

So they're rolling back this change?


Re:OS 2.1 (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 years ago | (#32788054)

I was wondering how long this would go on before someone brought that up.

Can someone please get a RFEE to explain things? (5, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about 4 years ago | (#32788058)

IANARFEE, but I am a EE who works with RF.

For all of the millions of dollars being lost on productivity aimlessly discussing 'bars'..

Can someone please dissect the antenna and then connect it to a calibrated spectrum analyser? This is so mindbogglingly trivial to do it is beginning to hurt my soul. I do similar exercises at work with new, untested antenna designs. I am sure I am not the only one.

For comparison, do the same to other phones and publish actual measurements of received signal drops and the effect from the disturbance caused from closing your hand around the antenna. This is similar to how touching an old rabbit-ears style antenna effects the picture on a analog TV broadcast, if the effect is as I suspect.

Voila! An actual, meaningful assessment of what the phone bars mean in real numbers from a calibrated instrument.

An uncalibrated receiver, such as the iphone, is not a proper tool to do this.

*grumble* *off my lawn* *grumble*

Re:Can someone please get a RFEE to explain things (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | about 4 years ago | (#32788236)

Voila! An actual, meaningful assessment of what the phone bars mean in real numbers from a calibrated instrument.

But but.. what would /. be without mindless speculation? Take your schmience elsewhere!

Great. (1)

jimmyfrank (1106681) | about 4 years ago | (#32788192)

I'll stick with Verizon where I have bars all over the state as opposed to AT&T where I didn't.

can't we standardise? (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about 4 years ago | (#32788246)

So... Why isn't the formula for calculating the bars standardised again?

Personally I'm wondering why part of it (on many phones) seems to involve dropping a couple of bars whenever I press the "call" button, without moving the phone. Presumably doing so invokes the "slightly less BS" mode. The other thing I'm wondering is why the more expensive the phone, the crappier the signal. I picked up a spare PAYG phone for about the same as what lunch cost me that day and it makes a very clear call everywhere. My old Ericsson K800i, not bad but not nearly as good. HTC Desire does better than the bars imply but still easily the worst of the 3.

a new patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32788366)

so can I patent a strip of sticky-tape that covers the metal parts of a new iPhone? and call it 'a device to improve reception of iPhones when held in the left hand'? or has Microsoft already done that?

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