Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has finally come up with a response to user complaints about the new iPhone 4 dropping calls and getting poor reception.

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

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:30:55 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

Really? Truly?


Two things strike me about this letter:


1. Wow, so Apple is basically saying AT&T's coverage is even crappier than you thought and we've been steering you wrong for years. Way to throw your partner under the bus.


2. Why weren't they using AT&T's formula to begin with?


Also, I'd be fascinated to hear how people that use headsets with the iPhone 4 are making out...


Stevery 12/5/2012 | 4:30:54 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

Wait.  People use the iPhone for phone calls?  I never thought of that app.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:30:54 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

This is awesome.

I suppose it's nice Apple admits to being "totally wrong," but wow.... how does a mistake like that go unnoticed?

And yeah, why not use the AT&T formula in the first place.  (Oh, right: They're Apple. They have to make everything themselves because otherwise it's not cool enough.)

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:30:54 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

Five bars = WAY cooler than two bars. Does this have the makings of a Toyota moment for AAPL?

Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:30:53 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

AAPL's letter still leads the reader to believe that there is a problem with the antenna in addition to the signal issue.  Speaking of signal, it will be fun to see how much worse ATT service becomes as users maximize multitasking.

My note to AAPL.  Take the iPhone, shove it and see what kind of signal you get up there.  I am sure it will be as good as your PR on this.

bogdan.zytka 12/5/2012 | 4:30:52 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

It really seems that it is not a software problem and apple just tries to avoid replacing ~2m sold iphones4. Quite arrogant.

Proof that sowtware will not help:



joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:30:48 PM
re: Apple Explains iPhone 4 Troubles

Should have more on this soon.

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