back to article Apple denies iPhone 4 antenna glitch, blames inaccurate signal bars

Apple has denied that its recently released iPhone 4 has any problems with the antenna, as reported by many disgruntled customers of the company’s latest device. Instead the Jobisan outfit has coughed to a glitch with the way the bars are displayed on the phone. Apple said it would spin out a software fix in the next few …


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  1. Jeff Power

    Yeah, but...

    If you read Anand's review over here:

    you see the signal bar formula was clearly skewed, but if you read further you see that they tested the absolute variation in signal strength due to hand contact, and it was worse on this than the competition. (As also pointed here: )

    1. DZ-Jay

      Re: Yeah, but butt...

      >> "but if you read further you see that they tested the absolute variation in signal strength due to hand contact, and it was worse on this than the competition."

      Yes, but AnandTech also said that at lower signal strength (like those experienced after the attenuation provided by bridging the antennae) it performed better than others. That at -113 dBm (one bar) it still was able to maintain calls and data transmissions of acceptable quality, while previous generations would inevitably drop the call.

      Here's the relevant passage:

      "From my day of testing, I've determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I've never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it's readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use."


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They give the consumer what they want to see.

        I think they make the signal strength look better than it simply because everyone likes to see full bars on their phone, so that's what they give you. They are now using that as a "fall guy" for this antenna crap.

        Also while I'm on the subject of Apple...

        Flash on the iPad...Are you not allowed ot have it because Jobs really thinks it's unsuitable for a platform designed around looking at websites or is it REALLY because Jobs wants to sell loads of games on the app store and doesn't want people to be able to play any of the vast library of free flash games on the internet?

  2. blackworx

    So the obvious question is then...

    ...why does this amazing "software problem" disappear when the phone is held "the wrong way"?

    And why does holding it "the wrong way" cause data download rates to plummet?

    1. Asgard

      @"why does this amazing "software problem" disappear"

      This software update hides the problem, so the problem of having to fix the phone disappears, when they try to hide its got a problem. :(

      Its a bit like lifting the carpet to hide dirt under it. It works for a while ... until a team of top lawyers trip over it and throw a class action at Apple. ;)

      ... Coat icon, without iPhone 4 in the pocket ;)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And why does the actual reception being even worse than reported mean there's no problem? Do they think we're retarded?

      Ok, silly question.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the clever bit... that all of a sudden the iPhone is going to start reporting fewer bars. Apple will be able to tell users 'nothing to do with us, take it up with the network and demand better coverage'.

        And their excuse is bollocks. My 3G registers 3 bars in my living room, it might fall to 2 bars when I pick it up to make a call. The iPhone 4 registers 2 bars and shows 'No network' when I deign to hold it using anything other than Apple's official finger tripod.

      2. Doshu

        cop-out or not?

        So if i get this correctly...

        - There's an interference problem due to an alleged error in design

        - We're told a first time we're holding the phone wrong for holding it like a... well phone

        - Problem persists

        - Antenna engineer positions are posted on Apple's career page

        - Tentative first tests suggest there really IS an interference problem (physics! it's the physics, people!)

        - We're told that it's not a reception problem OR a phone holding problem it's a BAR problem (i.e. an "insignificant, little" software problem

        - An update will (presumably) be rolled out to "fix" the bar problem

        (tentative) Conclusion:

        Sounds here like someone's pedaling real hard to save face and unfortunately for them, it all smells a tad fishy (especially the part where actual reception problems are swept under a cosmetic interface carpet) -- Can't wait for an independent study to clear it up.

    3. MrT

      Battery saving...

      As signal strength drops, any phone jacks up the transmit power to compensate and try to maintain the service. Is the iPhone saving its battery by shutting down the cell reception early because it's being fooled by its own signal strength meter? Just a thought...

      If this was true, then currently the software is placing long battery life over user experience. Then, after the patch is applied, does the battery life drop and the handset run a little hotter as it ups the effort of staying in touch with the network. That's the only read non-FUD way a software patch (really more a firmware patch) could have any effect on proceedings.

      Of course this does nothing for the real drop in service experienced by users, but if the phone tried harder to punch the signal through the fleshy bits surrounding it then maybe this is a real fix rather than an obvious attempt to avoid a kicking in the courts? Who knows...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Annihilator


      Perhaps, but I've just tried this in a number of phones and the worse example I can find is a Sony Ericsson w800i (TechMode activated by *585*0000#) which shows a 20dB loss from "no grip" to "grip" - identical to the iPhone4's loss and without the same media hoo-haa. In fact this was generally a brilliant phone.

      Equally, have tried it on an iPhone 3G (FW 3.1.3) which shows a 13dB loss using the Field Test menu, much "worse" than the 3GS apparently is.

      I think it's fair to say that attenuation can vary by as much as 20dB in *any* phone, depending on conditions, user etc.

  4. Tim Spence
    Thumb Down

    Pffffff... what bollocks

    See title.

  5. DutchP

    Too many bars

    is probably what the apple guy thought as well, after he lost the much discussed prototype in the last one

  6. nixmix


    So what they are saying is that for ages the iphones have been inflating the actual signal the phone is getting!

  7. BoredAccountant

    Now i'm no mathematician...

    ... but i can't get my head round

    incorrect formula + antenna thumbery = correct answer

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Except.. that it doesn't explain why the phones actually lose service altogether. Perhaps a more "suprising and simple" explanation is that the idiots designed two bare metal antennas where they could be easily bridged and therefore cause problems.

    1. DZ-Jay

      Re: Except...

      >> "Except.. that it doesn't explain why the phones actually lose service altogether."

      Because, for the majority, they don't. A lot of those "evidence" videos in YouTube show how it goes from 5 to 1 bars when clutched in the special way. Nobody is not disputing that the signal strength is affected, but that the meter makes it seem more dramatic than it really is.

      A lot of reviews, including AnandTech, have confirmed that even at lower strength, the iPhone performs better than previous generations. This explains why, even with such a marked attenuation, it still is an improvement.


      1. RegisterThis


        ... and of course nothing silly about direct contact of conductive surfaces with an antenna ... no siree ... no design fault here ... nothing to see ... move along ... and DON'T look at any videos involving any download speeds splummeting in the 'death grip', because the website is also Apple owned (well if it isn't. it will be shortly!) and shouldn't have been displaying the higher speed before the death grip!!!

        This is papering over the cracks, which seemingly for people like you who are only interested in bars makes it all work now? Genius for Apple and its flock but still an epic fail!

      2. Daniel B.

        not the full story though

        Anandtech seems to have missed one important factor on signal strength vs. SNR. Low signal strength means the handset will have to ramp up its transmission power to compensate for the signal strength. So yes, you can make calls at -113, but that also means your battery's going down real hard, real fast.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Too many bars?

    Hmm, wouldn't have been the result of the previous 'fix' for when people complained that the wireless reception was crap? "No, it's OK, look you're getting 5 bars".

  10. alun phillips

    All fixed then

    So it's not crappy antennae then but crap reception, bet that makes the fanbois feel much better!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge


      It's AT&T's fault!

    2. Code Monkey

      Crap reception

      Crap reception unless you hold it in a special way or put an expensive rubber band around it. Pull the other one, Jobs.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very good, Okama.. but I remain unconvinced. - Anand tries to see past the bars and put some numbers to signal strength. His conclusions are rather different.

    1. DZ-Jay


      How are AnandTech's conclusion's different? As far as I can tell, they are the same:

      - The "bars" meter is flawed.

      - 5 bars encompasses up 40% of signal loss (read: not accurate as "maximum strength" metric).

      - Attenuation does occur, like with any other phone, when held in a special way.

      - Even when attenuation does occur, and it may be more marked than other phones, signal quality is better than with other phones, and so the net effect is mitigated.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    So you make the signal strength look piss poor everywhere so it isn't so noticable when you hold it so the strength drops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      This is what I was thinking. Say before you have 5 bars on a 10 point scale. If you go from 9 to 2 you drop from 5 bars to 1 or 2.

      Up the scale to a 25 point scale? dropping from 9 to 2 shifts 1 bar down and the issue disappears.

  13. nigel 15

    Bar bragging

    this is not a mistake. does anyone believe that they rewrite the code for something so simple every time they update the iPhone????

    they deliberately lie about the signal strength to give the impression that the phone has better reception than competitors.

    serves them right that this bit them on the ass.

  14. Damo
    Jobs Horns


    Sounds like a crock of shit to me.

    Damn side easier to mask a problem with software than implement a hardware recall.

  15. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    And in an effort to save processing power

    The new signal strength icon will simply show three bars at all times.

  16. Annihilator

    "We" discovered this

    anandtech discovered this I think Apple will find. Has already been linked to on here but is well worth the read.

    Hands up who thinks no-one will believe this as a fix though and that Apple are just releasing a patch to give a new false-positive signal display?

    1. Eponymous Howard

      Try not to be a retard

      Apple would not put out such a strong statement when it might have to stand behind it in court and have the test data subpoenaed.

      The fix is to eliminate the false positives (ie inducing you to think you can make a reliable call when you can't).

      From your Anand link:

      "There's no doubt in my mind this iPhone gets the best cellular reception yet, even though measured signal is lower than the 3GS."

      1. Annihilator

        @Eponymous Howard

        Hey. I'm not saying I don't agree with Apple, I'm saying quite a few loons will claim it's bollox - see this forum for details ;-)

        1. Eponymous Howard

          Fair point....


  17. Bougle
    Thumb Down

    A fix for sure...

    So to summarise:

    - The IPhone lies to you about the signal strength.

    - There is a problem with the antenna causing a loss of signal strength when the phone is held incorrectly.

    - Our software fix won't fix the antenna but will lower your expectations but don't worry because the bars are bigger.

    Very reassuring.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      that's how I read it

      Going by the article at anandtech,

      the way its setup at the moment is that a drop from 5 to 4 bars is a huge drop in received signal. Hence if you start high you don't notice the signal drop on the display.

      An anology would be a car fuel gauge where the tank is full when the needle is at the "12 oclock" position, its half full at 2 o'clock and empty at 6.

      So yes, Apples fix will not change that there is a signal drop due to interacting with the antenna design. But the display wil reflect more accurately what was happening.

      The most interesting elements of the analysis for me were

      1. that Apple removed the hidden application that reported the actual signal strength parameters in the latest version of the OS.

      2. signal noise ratio is a better way of measuring your signal

      3. the wifi signal is improved by the bridging

  18. TBx

    Apple does NOT denie iphone antenna glitch

    Apple's comment is in keeping with peoples experences of a drop in signal strength, Apple seem to to says that holding the iphone the "wrong" way leads to a 2 bar drop in signal srength,

    But at the same time saying there is nothing wrong with the hardware, it is just a software fault, (a software fault unrelated to the problem)

    1. Annihilator

      Or specifically

      They're saying that a signal drop of 10-20dB (which can be considered "normal") can be unfairly represented as a 2-bar drop in signal, which is not a true assessment of the situation.

  19. Pyers


    Jobs - "I want this antenna problem fixed right now or you're fired. Issue a software update"

    Scotty - "I cannae change the laws of physics wi' software cap'n"

    Jobs: - "well issue a software update anyway and make something up"

    Scotty - "aye"

  20. tobyr
    Jobs Horns

    oh, that's alright then.

    what utter, utter bollocks. I cannot believe people are gonna buy this, but then again if you're gonna queue outside a wank boutique waiting for Jobs' newest ejaculation then you'l buy anything I guess.

    1. Code Monkey

      "wank boutique"


  21. Stefing


    So they're fixing a hardware fault with a software fix?

    Yeah, right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      sure they can

      Remembering their Magic Tricks department comes before engineering, they must have worked it out by now.

      At least as far as their target market is concerned, they have proven time and time again, it is not hard for them to get away with it.

  22. Psyx

    Doesn't this sound a bit like...

    But this goes up to 11!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You sir

      .. get a pint on me.

  23. SuperTim
    Jobs Horns

    That's Fucking Bollocks!

    I am in an EXTREMELY strong signal area. A full 5 bars because we can see the cellsite from our window. It is quite close. I can still get the phone to COMPLETELY drop out when holding the phone in a normal manner. Are they telling me that my eyes are now wrong and the cellsite is actually about 10 times further away?

    Utter shite.

    Thankfully it isnt my phone.....My 3GS works just dandy.....

    1. Rob

      In short.... yes....

      .... it's plainly obvious your eyes require a software update, have a word with your manufacturer.

    2. PsychicMonkey
      Jobs Halo

      thats right

      your eyes are faulty. It's not Apples fault.

      What you need to do is buy a new set of iEyes. Then everything you look at will be shiny and work far better than you could ever know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @buy a new set of iEyes

        Yes, or an iMast. Although I guess that's what the Apple product is anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton

          Want your phone to work?

          If you want your desktop to work and help you get work done (corporate) you buy a PC and put Windows on it.

          If you want your desktop to be shiny and want your grandma to be able to use it, you get a Mac and put OSX on it.

          If you want your phone to work and help you get work done (corporate) while providing texting, messaging and email, you buy a Blackberry.

          If you want your phone to be shiny and amusing to the coeds at the bar, you buy an iPhone. Don't worry, they know how to hold it to make it work just right.

    3. Dr. Mouse

      Easy answer...

      Don't buy a brand new, over priced fashion accessory if you want a working, stable tool.

      Don't get me wrong, the phones should not be doing this, and Apple should admit it, but you did buy a fashion accessory, not a phone...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone else smell burning underpants?

    So holding the phone in a certain manner changes the way the software calculates the signal strength?

  25. nsld
    Paris Hilton

    I am no engineer but

    How does the way you hold the phone have an effect on the maths done by the whizzy bits inside?

    It doesnt matter if the maths are wrong, they are wrong relative to a changing variable so the variance in the wrongness is what matters.

    I am however impressed that the close proximity of an organic component can have an effect on the calculations. Is this the first stage of the Jobsian assimilation?

    Paris - just as daft.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    It sucks so it must be by Apple

    Wow, Apple public admits there phone is really more rubbish then people first thought it was.

    All Apple fanboys must be thinking that it is 1 April. Tell us it not ture.

    PS Apple Fanboys it not April and yes it sucks.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    so apples "fix" is too move the goal posts

  28. britsurfer1


    They are just trying to convince people this can be solved by a software update. If this really was an algorithm problem then calls would not be dropped when the phone is held. The call would remain connected but there would be no bars. Similarly if the phone shows more bars that it actually has then it wouldn't continually go down to zero bars when held.

    I think it's poor show that apple aren't doing something about this and that their testers didn't pick it up. I've pre-ordered an iphone 4 but I'm seriously thinking about cancelling it.

  29. Ritchie1987

    All lies

    This is just another marketing bs story, they've already said there isn't a problem and then said that there is to confuse their fanbois and now their fanbois just want someone to tell them everything is ok, and here it is watch as the flock believe this and all complaints go away. Very cleverly done but as both an iPhone and iPad user I do get fed up off all the marketing tactics used by apple. I don't see why they can't just admit there is a problem and give all the people who have brought the new iPhone a free bumper case and start coating new ones with a non conductive film - not like it's going to bankrupt them!

    Watch for the fake software update where you always have signal and yet you can't make calls, but that's ok because when that happens it must be your provider.

    1. paulf

      Just wondering

      I agree with your comment, but I wonder where next for apple on this whole messy antenna issue?

      I agree that giving away a bunch of free bumpers would solve the problem and as long as they had a nice apple logo impression on them the fanbois would be happy. Thing is doing that would be a tacit admission that there *IS* a problem with the hardware design and they know it! The lawyers would have a field day on that decision and that's probably behind the lack of free bumpers whether they can afford it or not. (IMO and IANAL).

      But what do Apple do long term for the 4G handset? If they're not bounced into a recall to sort things out they will have to either:

      i. Do a rev 2 of the handset's mechanical design (a thin film like you suggest seems to be the best option for minimal change in the manufacturing process), which will be introduced quietly until someone notices "Hey, my new iPhone 4G is slightly different to the one my mate bought 6 months ago"

      ii. Include a free bumper from now on as part of the standard stuff "in the box", manual specifies it must be used at all times for "the best user experience" (a la previous PR guff statements)

      iii. Or they just carry on selling something they know is causing problems and live in denial - causing potentially serious damage to Apple's brand and its reputation* for excellent customer service and support

      Interesting quandry - I think Apple PR have backed themselves into a corner on this one?

      Denial or tacit admission? Either way a Lawyers field say I fear :s

      * I said *reputation* - as always YMMV!

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        It. Is. Not. Bloody. 4G.

        That is all.

  30. Anonymous Coward


    This is obviously the reason my phone indicated good reception but the O2 network often fails to connect - and even drops - calls.

    Apple did not deny there was a change due to holdng the phone differently, however, it seems to be any degredation is small.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      that could just be that the o2 network is a fupping shambles, and even with full 3G reception you're lucky to get any kind of service whatsoever?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I am yet to see 3G on O2 out of London

        3G? On O2? Outside London?

        Entertaining idea...

        1. Capt John Yossarian

          Patronising twat....

          Balls. I live in the North East and travel extensively and have pretty good 3G coverage a high percentage of the time. Hell, even when dicking about on my boat, I can get coverage on both 3G cards (O2/3) and CrackBerry (O2) when about a mile offshore. Whenever I visit Canary Wharf, I get fuck all reception and am reduced to GPRS.

          Still, I keep a box of pigeons handy - an iLoft, so I can keep in contact with my masters in London Villiage.

          oooh aaaaarrrgh

        2. Chris 35

          3G outside London

          I live in Ipswich and a friend of mine lives in deepest Northamptonshire. We're both on O2 and the 3G reception is very good in both areas.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Apple owners idiots

    i'm sure they will believe every word of this "fix" news.

  32. Generic_Web_Guy


    That would be the Tokyo branch, right?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Easy Solution

    1.) Hold phone by the top right and lower left corner in your left hand.

    2.) Go over to coffee machine

    3.) Pick up coffee in right hand.

    4.) Raise coffee to under nose, inhale deeply.

    5.) Once suitably awake realise that you've been duped by all the iHype

    6.) Place left hand over suiatble refuse container and release

    7.) Go and buy a decent phone from a real manufacturer not a feature poor, over hyped, marketing man's wet dream.

  34. Thomas 4

    I would call bullshit on this...

    ...but I can't get the signal strength.

  35. muttley

    Just when you thought Jobs was beyond parody...

    ...he authorises the release of an "update" to bias out the signal strength meter.

    The anandtech piece explains that the meter does in fact offer a non-linear user experience in areas with patchy coverage, but the aerial design/reception issue does actually exist.

    Therefore the "update" lives in that neat little crevice between fact and FUD, most impressive indeed.

    Since the iPod Mk 1 was released, Apple have demonstrated a pretty impressive climb towards the summit of industrial design - until today.

    This is not the beginning of the end for Apple's image, but certainly the end of the beginning.

  36. g e

    I get it now, sorry Steve, my bad...

    Oh riiiiiiight, so perhaps holding the phone the wrong way actually makes the software display the wrong number of bars rather than the antenna being a designed-by-a-five-year-old piece of crap. Perhaps they're in some kind of bullshitting record attempt to out-do Gordon Brown's stunning legacy of twaddle.

  37. Shingo Tamai

    With a body made of glass...

    ...why the hell didn't they put a frigging large antenna panel INSIDE?!?

  38. Frank 6

    They missed a point

    If you completely disregard what the interface tell you, the fact remains that calls are being dropped. So showing me 2 or 4 bars makes little difference on the fact it still drops calls when you accidentally short circuit the two antennas.

    Anandtech's review on the matter explains the real problem and shows that the signal drop is far worse than competing phones.

    Personally, I don't care if the phone shows me 1 bar or 5 bars as long as i can make a call reliably. The underlying issue is bad hardware design and software will not fix it. What they are attempting to do is fool people into thinking that their network is the problem.

  39. thefutureboy


    All iPhone users please apply this woollen garment to your head so it may be pulled down sharply to cover one's eyes when instructed to do so by Apple.

  40. G2

    how about

    how about they offer an option to display the REAL received signal strength in REAL units, like dBm, and also display the signal strength of the phone itself, as relayed back by the receiving tower. Again, in dBm.

    that would solve the display issues of signal quality meters once and for all.

    Also, could they please stop using the 'bars' as a measuring scale. it's useless in comparisons. It can vary between different phone models, firmware versions or even production batches of the same phone design & specs, due to minute variations in hardware components used.

    the most recent NORMAL phone i had that could display the real raw signal strength was an Alcatel One Touch Easy... and that was about TEN years ago. I still have fond memories about that brick of a phone.

    Since then, i don't remember having a normal phone that could display the raw signal quality info :(

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      You can display the signal level.....

      ....on Androids with 1.5 and 2.1 at least, probably all the other versions too.

  41. James 47
    Thumb Up

    Patented fix

    Maybe Nokia have a patent on the hardware fix that's required. This will definitely be interesting.

  42. Bod

    You're barred

    So all that will happen is they redefine the bars to make people happy but likely it doesn't solve the underlying reception issues (that they now deny).

    Queue ongoing complaints about crappy voice quality and dropped calls. Though I see this all the time on twitter from iPhone users already.

    Nokia et al may be rubbish at the UI, but they have decades of maturity in producing mobile phones that can make and receive calls, and wouldn't screw up on a matter like this.

  43. Firefox Russ
    Jobs Horns


    They really have no shame do they?

  44. Smallbrainfield

    "These go to eleven"

    "That's one louder."

    On most telephones, the signal bar goes up to 5, but the iPhone signal bar goes up to 6.

    Do Apple sell iBlnkers yet?

  45. Thorsten

    I'm a developer, I know about patches...

    I bet the fix look something like this:

    int calculateBars() {

    return 5;


    I wonder whether the real reason they now found a software fix is to avoid a Toyota-like recall, so I got doubts about the fix being the real deal. But maybe I'm just too cynical about all things Apple...

  46. Clive Harris

    It's your fault, you're just not cool enough

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    that explains why the "Bars" are fooked

    not why the calls drop out.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Maybe not....

      ....the phone is continuously using the RSSI values from various cells to make decisions about handovers. If it is calculating incorrectly, it might decide to request a change and get a worse signal rather than a better one.

      Mine's the one with the 3GPP specs in the very large and reinforced pockets....

  48. Doug Glass

    Positional Reprogramming

    Say what? So the software displays correct signal strength when the hand is in the correct position and displays incorrectly when held incorrectly. Is Balmer the relevant Stevie here or is The Sacred "J" just taking lessons from Microsoft?

    Sounds like how Nevada did such a good "job" of reducing their crime rate. They made prostitution legal. New Jobsian math: here bois: 2 is now equal to 4 so go home, tell mommy you're happy now and finish that finger painting exercise app.

    1. I didn't do IT.

      Re: The Other OTHER (White) Steve...

      And lo, as it was foretold, Steve, at the Trials of Job(s), had come full circle, to be completely Balmer(s).

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Prostitution

      A little known fact on this side of the pond; prositution is (il)legalized by the County gov, not the State gov. This is not the case for all States (some are Commonwealths, etc), but also happens to be true for Nevada. Prostitution is illegal in the couty Las Vegas is in (Clark), but is legal around it - (keep a list in your wallet, eh?)

  49. richard 69

    turn it up to 11...

    a simple fix, then it's one better isn't it?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: James47

    Since when did Apple care about what Nokia have patented?

    1. James 47

      @AC @15:32

      Maybe since Nokia listed antennae design patent violations in its suit against Apple before this phone was released? If they ignored the alleged infringements Nokia would be entitled to damages x 3

  51. F'tangF'tang

    Is Required

    The hardware guys blame the software and the software guys blame the hardware.

  52. DavCrav

    Totally unscientific but...

    I got up the signal strength meter on my CrackBerry and did the same test. At rest on the table it was fluctuating between -80 and -90 dBm, and with me covering as much of the surface of the phone as I can it fluctuates between -90 and -100 dBm. So yes, it affects other phones. A bit. Not that much though.

    Back on topic: Steve is clutching at straws a bit here: he says that Apple was lying about the bars earlier and that's now fixed. OK, problem 1 solved. Next problem is how to fix the significant signal degradation from holding it? You know, the actual problem.

  53. GarethJones


    Basically they are providing a Kludge in the software to mask a hardware problem. H ence no need to recall the devices already shipped/sold and saving a bucket load of cash and possibly a dip a share price.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Can I sure Apple for damages?

    My Bullshit detector has just set on fire because of this. Guess I shouldn't have used that apple magsafe power adapter on it...

  55. BritBloke

    Nice catch

    Good news : Holding you phone doesn't give you a crap signal

    Bad news: Your phone just has a crap signal all the time

    ... and this is an improvement how?

  56. Phil Arundell 1

    Just shows

    The complete and utter disdain that Apple have for their customers if they think they'll fall for this completely obvious bullshit. Nothing more to add, really

  57. Anonymous Coward

    On my phone, the bars go up to 11

    No comment

  58. JaitcH
    Jobs Horns

    I hate to say it but I told you so ...

    This subject was raised in another piece earlier in the week and I suggested Apple would change the bars and software.

    BUT Apple is still conning people as the antenna output signal level to the receiver IS reduced as the tuning of the antenna is offset by the effect of the hand *in the wrong place".

    The GOOD NEWS IS that Apples latest piece of iCrap can be returned for a 100% refund which must make Jobs really, really, sick (to admit Apples engineering wonder is just iCrap).


    software fix

    this would be a laugh haha if it turns out it dont fix it then apples gonna get alot of complaints and sues hahahah cant wait for the outcome.

  60. Craig 2
    Thumb Up

    I can't believe

    They even had the balls to publish that solution, even if it is completely accurate. Do they know about the internet? Could they not forsee the comment blacklash and the all-round `lolz`!

  61. Anonymous Coward

    Anandtech - Please read the article before you comment

    I just read the whole Anandtech article, and I notice a lot of fanbois on here are partially quoting it. Anand is clear that the reception without the attenuation problem is actually a lot better than previous iPhones, but that the attenuation is very severe (-24dB if I remember correctly - and remember that dB is a log scale, so -24dB is a lot more serious than even 10 or 20dB) when you hold it incorrectly.

    Another thing to note, and Anandtech missed this in the article, is that the change in antenna performance when you grip it will be a function of how conductive your hand is. If you generate a lot of salt in your sweat, and have a sweaty hand, the effect is likely to be much more severe. I would have likely to see an upper bound on performance loss in that review by shorting it with a metallic object. My suspicion is that the performance loss will be more severe than 24dB in that case.

  62. Anonymous Coward

    Deja vu

    "As previously noted, users continue to report poor 3G signal strength under iPhone OS 2.1. To be clear, iPhone OS 2.1 does not purport to actually boost signal strength. Instead, it provides "more accurate" signal strength display, which, in most cases, means more bar bars, but not necessarily better reception or ability to make/receive calls. However, it appears that "more accurate" may mean "unreasonably generous."

    No that isn't a current report getting the OS wrong, that was indeed from nearly two years ago.


  63. Anonymous Coward

    .........make it a big one

    If I had bought an iphone4 I would be now be trying figure out how to sue these lying sods.

    I wonder if any of these guys worked on that dossier about WMDs.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cunning stunts...

    This is the bit that amazes me:

    "Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength."

    Given how anal Apple are about any code that is to be allowed near an iPhone, it seems fairly hard to believe that they were stunned to find that out.

    Stunned to find out that they may have found a way to avoid a recall maybe....

  65. gimbal
    Black Helicopters

    Shhh, don't pester the Jobstatron when it is diligently at work!

    Somehow, I'm sure that a brilliant storyteller, eons down from today, will have discovered a brilliant way to weave the fantastic tales of the Apple company into something fit for children.

    I'm thinking of that film, 9, in saying that. Any suggestions?

  66. Jeff 11


    So the extra bars only become real when you're not holding the lower left corner or you put it in Apple's conveniently problem-solving iphone case?

    It's a decent strategy for avoiding a recall I suppose, but really, can the algorithm for determining signal strength have changed since the last three models of iPhone? Apple are seriously gambling their brand reputation here. If they're found out to be making this up, they'll lose a lot of customer goodwill.

  67. Martin Usher

    Neat solution to the problem

    Its obviously makes more sense to tell people that they can't use their phone than have them try to use it and discover it doesn't work. I suspect that serious phone users will carry a backup -- you flash your iPhone to show you're leading edge but you've got a GSM klunker in your back pocket to actually make phone calls with. (Use a Bluetooth earpiece and nobody will ever know....)

  68. shmirsh
    Thumb Down

    "leaves on the line"

    or the "wrong kind of snow"..

    this is easily as good.

  69. Andus McCoatover

    See subject

    (Guardian) "But Apple insists that the iPhone 4's wireless performance is "the best we have ever shipped" and that for the vast majority of users, "this software update will only make your bars more accurate".

    It's the 'only' that worries me about the update. So, won't activate any Google-type KillSwitch then?

    Yeah, right. Jobs is becoming as believable as the famous Joseph Smith, of Latter-day-saints fame.

    Oh, plus something to do with '(golden) tablets' in both cases. Reincarnation???

  70. Apocalypse Later

    Remember those antenna booster stickers?

    You were supposed to stick them on your battery inside the phone and they were supposed to boost your reception. I bet that they would actually work on an iphone 4, if you stuck them over the external antenna to insulate it from hand contact.

  71. Goodwrench
    Jobs Horns

    Apple Babble

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

  72. Anonymous Coward

    I cannot believe....

    ... that some people here are even try to defend Apple. Either they are Apple employees or really this redefines the concept of being retarded.

  73. RB---

    Out of the frying pan into the fire!

    The software fix may show better signal than is really the case, but lower received signal strength probably also means the phone needs to be transmitting at higher power which means the battery will drain faster!

  74. RB---

    Out of the frying pan into the fire II

    Not to mention that weaker signal and higher transmission level fries the brain faster ;-)

    And of course calls will appear to drop despite 4-5 bars being displayed!

  75. Gannon (J.) Dick

    Quantum Superposition

    The unsold ones work fine. Opening the box causes all the problems.

    Final answer.

  76. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Wrong signal

    The iPhone is supposed to be showing the local strength of Jobs' reality distortion field.

  77. Phil the Geek

    This one goes to eleven

    So the iPhone will soon have a Spinal Tap signal strength display

  78. RhinoBanga

    Delaying tactic

    Could it be that the software update will occur after 30 days have passed so the majority lose the right to return the phone? Or have Apple stated that you will be able to return it after the update if you are still unhappy?

  79. sidelight

    Reality is relative

    Great to know that my dropped signal (inc wireless) when I hold the phone wrong is because of a calculation error. When I started out I worked in software testing, there was a developer who when you reported "if you do this and this, it breaks" would respond "then don't do it, that's not a bug that's a user error". Guess he must have gone to work for Apple.

  80. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    But ...

    What about those people who should be getting 100% because they are close to and can see the base station aerial but report major problems when they have a Vulcan Death Grip on their iPhone?

    Apple's "you thought you had more than you actually had" excuse sounds reasonable for cases in poor signal areas, but in a good signal area it seems holding the phone causes a much worse drop than it should ... which points to a design flaw.

  81. 20legend

    @ AC "I am yet to see 3G on O2 out of London"

    You need to open your eyes pal!

    I live in North Yorks and get decent, reliable 3G / 3.5G signal on O2 using my trusty N95 8Gb without any bother.

  82. John H Woods Silver badge

    Steve Jobs ...

    ... the new Gerald Ratner

  83. Gil Grissum
    Jobs Horns

    Software fix?


    So we make a patch to trick you into thinking your reception is better than it really is, you buy the rubber bumper to cover up our design flaw, and everything is fine and dandy? I don't think so.

  84. KjetilS
    Thumb Down

    Just tested this..

    I just tested a plethora of different gripping techniques on my Samsung Omnia HD, even covering it with both hands, and the maximum difference I can get is about 5dBm. Moving the phone around in the room makes the signal strength fluctuate a lot more than covering the phone with my hands.

    So I call bollocks on "all phones do this".

  85. Anonymous Coward


    120 comments already.

    Of those I'd say:

    1 person has an iPhone 4 and knows what they're talking about

    5 people know a little bit about signals and the physics (and engineering) behind them

    114 people are merely here to discuss the pros and cons of something they know nothing about (and by that I mean slag off Apple because they've nothing better to do with their time).

    Of course, it's the same when there is a mistake made by Microsoft. The difference is that far more of us actually experience the problems first hand and so there are fewer people wading in with "My friend's friend said" and other such retarded nonsense.

    So for just about every poster so far - FAIL!

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