Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles
The vendor says in an open letter that the dramatic drop in signal levels that some users have reported is not because of a new antenna design -- a wraparound design built into the casing of the phone -- but because the software that Apple uses to calculate the signal strength of the 3G network in any given area is often over-optimistic about the number of bars a user is actually getting. (See Apple Blames Your Grip.)
"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," says Apple in its statement.
Apple says that its "formula" sometimes "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength." Apple admits that the signal can also drop "by one or more bars" when users grip the new iPhone "a certain way." Combine both of these elements and what do users get? "Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place," Apple says.
The firm says it has retested everything and is happy that "the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped." The firm plans to address the faulty signal bars issue by adopting AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s "recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength." This will arrive in a software update for all of Apple's 3G iPhones.
Apple also reminds users that they can return the iPhone 4 "within 30 days of purchase for a full refund."
Meantime, Apple also used the letter to suggest that rival Droid, BlackBerry , and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) phones can all experience signal drops when gripped a certain way.
Intriguingly, Samsung Corp. technical representatives in the AMOLED demonstration area were asked about this very issue at the Galaxy S Android launch this week. It was demonstrated how a user would have to hold the phone uncomfortably at the top of the casing to mess with the antenna -- not a natural way to hold a smartphone.
LR Mobile also has a new Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) Droid X on hand to test. We'll see if we can cause signal drops on that by gripping it in various eccentric ways.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile