back to article Apple spews Judas Phone signal bar 'fix' to world+dog

Apple has released the promised iOS update designed to improve the way the Judas Phone displays signal strength bars – and fool fanbois into thinking there's no problem with the company's antenna design. iOS 4.0.1 offers the new formula not only on the Judas Phone, but also on the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3. According to a …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. iCredulous
    Jobs Horns

    How stupid do they think we are?

    Seriously? As a mac user I'm rapidly losing confidence in a company that seems to believe it can brush off a serious design flaw with a clearly bullshit software fix. Do they really believe that anyone with an ounce of technical know-how will believe this? This is why I bought an HTC and why my next notebook won't be apple. Not as pretty but at least it'll be honest...

    1. gregkelly1985

      iPhone Problems

      What's weird is that I own an iPhone 4 and although I noticed the bars go down after a very much impromptu test I did, I have experienced (in comparison to my old iPhone 3G) no dropped calls nor degradation of call quality or data signal. In fact the phone has performed very well and I would normally at this point be singing it's praise from the rooftops... but the media has actually made me believe that the Apple is evil and that the iPhone has a, as you say, serious design flaw. I find myself questioning my purchase of the phone and not recommending it where I usually would, it just shows you how powerful the media is, when even though I HAVE the phone and have experienced NO problems I'm still led to believe that my phone is buggered!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Ascylto
          Jobs Halo


          Well, here's a view from Manchester UK. I would echo fully what the poster says about his iPhone 4. I can't find a fault with it. It's way better than my 3G which I changed it from. I don't doubt for a moment that there's an antenna problem but I can only go on my own experience which is good.

  2. Jaap stoel
    Jobs Horns

    Isn't this fraud?

    Now I ANAL but this looks to me like pure and simple fraud.

    1. Ammaross Danan

      Last I checked...

      So, they're admitting to fraudulantly inflating their cell phone's reception bars to "appear" to have a superior antenna design and resulting reception... Oh, sorry, a "software bug" improperly calculated extra bars... Yeah, "Look I get great reception! Buy an iPhone!" BS.

    2. ThomH

      You're probably right

      Fraud isn't a single thing in British law but the general principle is deception to gain an advantage. Of course, it's possible after this many years isolated from a critical press that Apple actually believe what they're saying, negating the deception...

      1. Adam Foxton
        Jobs Horns

        Deception to gain an advantage

        Apple: "Our phone gets a signal where others don't"

        Users: "My phone gets 3 bars where my old nokia got 1"

        prospective user: "Ooh, that iPhone thing works really well as a phone- 2 extra bars! I'll bet it works well in the office. I'll buy that."

        Apple (now): "Holy shit, it's the fraud squad!"

        Also, next week for Android is a signal-o-meter with 15 divisions. Just to piss off the Appletards.

    3. MrT

      So what we need...

      ... is a simple poll to see if iPhone 4 still drops calls like they were hot bricks.

      Yes/No answer, extend to owners of patched 3GS too, just to see if it makes any real-world difference.

      Shame they can't retro-install an active desktop to show the signal bars full-screen behind whatever level of Angry Birds the owner is playing.

  3. Kevrod79

    We fucked up, but we think we can pull the wool over your eyes!

    Come on, do Apple really think they can full the average iPhone user with that excuse??? Actually, I think they can and will.

  4. RedTussock

    To be Transparent then ...

    To be Transparent and to show that we can actually trust Steve Jobs, would he be so kind as to release the source code so that we can be the judge of how critical a mistake has been made. Lets be honest this is a lame excuse to justify the billions that they have harvested from the iComputer community. When will they learn, Steve Jobs does not care how good something is, all he cares about is touching your pocket. Cant wait for Android to be released in New Zealand.

  5. da_fish27

    Everybody seems surprised..

    Obviously, this "fix" of theirs is a piece of shit -- of course, a software flaw would only appear when you hold a device in a particular way *rolls eyes*.

    However, if you bought this, you bought what Apple makes -- devices that do not do anything more than any of the other devices, but they are beautifully wrapped and fool you into thinking that they are better than the others.

    If you, a consumer, bought the iPhone 4, you must've either known this (there is nothing wrong with accepting it, but you must then also accept consequences), or you are hopeless.

    This fix is a perfect fit for the Apple tradition -- making you believe something is better than it actually is.

    Now you act surprised when they do something slightly more obviously retarded than usual?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Hah "Judas Phone"

    Love it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Still makes me chuckle when I see it.

      1. James O'Brien
        Thumb Up

        Another one

        Im in the same boat with a grin everytime I see it

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


          More like "Peter Phone" - hasn't Peter denied having any knowledge of Jesus not once but three times right after Jesus had been arrested at Gethsemane?

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      A mighty voice rang out saying...

      Just change your disciples. It's no big deal.

      Sent from my iSaiah

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Cover your butts.

        The fanbois are attacking with their big red thumbs. GULP.

  7. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    Who are more upset here?

    The fanbois, or the anti-Apple crew?

    If only the world was powered by righteous indignation and froth and spittle from the mouth, then we'd never have an energy crisis again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @world powered by righteous indignation and froth and spittle

      In a sense it is. The people who make the laws seem to be elected that way. The oil companies and related concerns may evade much of said Law but not all of it.

      Or maybe it is powered more by the see-no-evil brigade because of what they enable the flim-flam division to get away with?

    Gates Horns

    Software Fix ... actually, could be easily done.

    Considering that most people wouldn't be using WiFi *and* UMTS at the same time during a call and the apple multitasking is pretty crap anyway, surely the easy answer is to power OFF the WiFi antenna circuit (via software) every time a call is in progress..?

    $10 says that's either in the software update, or else Steve owes me millions of dollars for a viable fix with recalling the phones. Hey, maybe I should quickly take out a patent on that! <chuckle>

    1. c 1
      Paris Hilton

      The prioblem is HW, not software

      Turning of wifi will do didly squat. The problem is purely one of antenna design - HW. Cant be fixed in SW.

      Paris she must have designed the antenna..

    2. Pawel 1

      Re-do your physics classes

      Antenna's shape determines the impedance against a particular wavelength. Different shape (determined by the parts that are electrically conductive) means different resonant frequency and different impedance for your cell phone signals. Aka trouble. Not much to do with the antennae transmitting at the same time.

    3. Gilbo
      Thumb Down


      That would knock out any potential use of Facetime.

  9. Piggy and Tazzy
    Thumb Down

    So in other words...

    By their own admission, iPhone reception is shite.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    just installed it.

    my bars are bigger, but my esteem seems to have shrunk.

    1. Jerome 0


      How odd, your bars are supposed to be smaller.

  11. Not Installed Properly

    This may have been covered elsewhere...

    But doesn't that statement read as 'The signal was always shit, we've decided that to admit to lying about it is is far cheaper and easier than addressing the issue that the bottom line is: that the thing is beautiful to behold, but doesn't work properly, although its slim design and robust metal case makes it ideal for sliding under wobbly table legs' ?

  12. Nathan Margason

    Apple is responding faster than MS!

    TWO months in and Apple is in some way responding to the issue. How many YEARS has it taken M$ to finally correct the Xbox 360 RROD? Sheesh, all the hystrionics! (El Reg included) Remain caml, take a deep breath and have a little self control, it's not the end of the world.

    1. David Parker


      Oh, lying about the problem is okay, as long as you're "responding to the issue."


    2. Greg J Preece

      You're an idiot

      Apple is clearly fobbing people off.

      Microsoft fixed the 360 problem so many mobo versions ago I've lost count.

    3. Frank 6


      MS honoured the warranties and even paid shipping both ways. On top of that, they extended warranties where necessary.

      Keep living in your dreamworld fanboi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You missed a word

        MS /eventually/ honoured the warranties and extended them.

        Initially they ignored/denied the problem and made people pay to have their consoles fixed.

        Yes, I know they refunded those repairs at a later date.

        I don't think either company is a candidate for the customer service gold standard award, though.

  13. Sooty

    I've just installed it

    and i don't know what it's done, but the signal still drops a bar when i hold it, even with a case. I'm a right handed weirdo who holds it lefty, so that i can use my good hand to touch the screen

    I now also have the added bonus that it randomly changes between 1 and 5 bars every few mins, even if i'm not touching it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Pick it up and it goes from four bars to 'No-service' in thirty seconds flat.

      Kudos to Apple, I'm pretty sure my phone turns into a brick *even faster* after installing this update.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Learn to hold a phone

    Learn how to hold a phone; it's not that big of a deal.

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Gulfie

      Re: Learn to hold a phone

      Let me correct that for you:

      "Learn how to hold a phone; it's not that big of a deal.

      Sent from my iP"

      Because of course your signal will die...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Dropped signals

      L_ar_ _o _old a P_one_ it_s _o_ T_at _ig o_ a De_l

      S_n_ f_om m_ iP_on_

      1. g e


        Sent from my Android phone

    3. Stephen Gray

      Do tell how you hold it "properly"?

      No of my previous mobile telephonic devices had to be held "properly" therefore Apple are shite. Period. Or in the Queen's English, full stop.

  15. darkdog

    not a fix in any way, but..

    .. the issue was most definitely exacerbated because of the way the iphone was calculating the signal strength in bars: if there was no visible feedback, people would just say calls were sometimes dropped -- just like they've been doing for past iphones.. there's definitely an issue, but people's perception of its severity has a lot to do with how many bars the signal decreases. i'd say they're fixing people's perception of the issue.

    i can't understand how a company that usually pays so much attention to detail and PR lets something this huge slip through the cracks, though. I can't believe they didn't know about the signal strength issue, so I can't understand that they didn't "fix" the bar calculating algorithm (which was too optimistic to begin with). The following reactions from apple were pretty bad as well... let's see if they manage to somehow fix things tomorrow.

  16. Oregon Guy

    This is a step forward (possibly the first of 12)

    Apple basically stated that this hubub is based on a misperception caused by their faulty formula for calculating+exaggerating the signal strength bars, and rather pointedly directed its apology towards "any anxiety we may have caused."

    Apple has also resolutely maintained that the wireless performance on the iPhone 4 is the best ever, and has never acknowledged that there is any flaw in the hardware.

    So now, Apple will solve what *it* perceives to be the root of the problem, and people will then observe 1-2 bar drops instead of 4-5 bar drop when they hold the phone "in a certain way," as Apple puts it.

    Ultimately, this comes down to dropped calls, and those are measurable. If Apple is in denial about the nature of the problem, this patch throws out their Valium supply.

    1. JaitcH
      Jobs Horns

      Why would ANYONE believe Jobs or Apple?

      Apple has basically stated ...

      So what? They are liars.

      iCrap 4 might be 'the best ever' but that just means that versions 1, 2 and 3 were worse. RF measurements are expressed in numbers not self-serving phrases.

  17. Stuart Elliott

    Shock and awe

    It still isn't fixed, despite their Snake Oil attempt.

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Old "bars" seemed reasonble to me,,,

    I'm not even going to go over how this doesn't fix the problem, everyone knows that.

    But... I saw a table comparing "bars" to dbm signal strength, and the old "bars" seemed reasonable to me. I can't speak for AT&T, I hear they have poor voice quality with a rather strong signal. But with Verizon, with my present phone 2, 3, 4, 5 bars are all so strong, I have no effect on voice quality right down to 1 bar (and no effect on data speeds either), and usually 0 bars is OK. I'd actually *prefer* a scale like the old IPhone, my not too informative "0 bars" would cover up through 2 bars, and 1 bar would show as about 3 bars. (Then 4 and 5 bars would cover the really strong signals.)

    1. Daniel B.

      Power and Noise-to-Ratio

      There are other variables that affect your calls. The lower the signal strength, the more power your handset will need to use for transmission. Another thing is that your handset might be better in handling low signals, which the iPhone 4 has been shown is capable of doing.

      Having a handset where 1 bar is the threshold of "gonna lose the call" vs. one that "2 bars drops calls" ... I'd rather have the one where 1 bar is the call-losing one. Why? Because I can know in advance if I'm straying into a low signal zone.

  19. Big Knox


    Update applied. Phone sitting on table = 4 bars, phone in hand = 1 bar. Nice patch....not

  20. LPF

    OK quick question

    In which country are these dropped class happening? is it all over the world or only in that glorious paradise for mobiles phones known as the USA?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      UK as well

      I'm on O2 and the problem is as bad as ever after the patch.

  21. ingybing


    What a load of TOSH!!

    Before the update i have 5 bar 3G Signal on Orange UK... when i just touch the left corner band it went down to 1 Bar of just GPRS....

    After the update i have only 3 bars of 3G signal and when i touch the left corner band it goes down to 1 Bar of GPRS.....

    I'll just have to wish for a recall or something tomorrow.... I'll wish in one hand and crap in the other and see which gets full first....... Your answers on a postcard...

    1. nsld

      Sale of goods and services act

      Its not fit for the purpose for which it was sold, send it back and ask Orange to swap it for the Samsung Galaxy S.

      Jobs done !

    2. SuperTim

      The update applied correctly then!

      If you had 5 bars before and only 3 now it sounds like they were right about the formula. Your phone was overstating the signal strength by 2 bars. I therefore assume you are delighted that this minor software glitch is fixed and can continue to enjoy Apple products for years to come.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    This signal strength formula is too complex for me...

    1 Bar ~ -102 to -120 dBM

    2 Bars ~ -93 to -101 dBM

    3 Bars ~ -87 to -92 dBM

    4 Bars ~ -78 to -86 dBM

    5 Bars ~ -40 to -77 dBM

    If they can't code this "formula" properly they have no future in the software business.

    1. MrT

      they probably got confused...

      ... because it's a logarithmic scale and not a linear one - signal strength doubles for every 3dB rise.

      Either that or they employed an ex-NASA tech who worked in metric.

  23. Rogerborg
    Thumb Up


    The bars were a lie! The Grip of Truth wasn't degrading the signal, it was just destroying the Untruth!

  24. uhuznaa
    Thumb Up

    One thing

    If this thing will still sell like hot cakes (and I have no doubt it will) this proves only one thing: People care not so much about a perfect cellphone but more about a really nice appliance in their pockets.

    Yell about that all you might, but I can understand that. Providing that they get the proximitiy sensor issue fixed, I will get an iPhone 4 later this year, too. Having to hold the thing more carefully in areas with a bad signal (or just buying a case) may be a little bit annoying but it's such a great appliance (I have learned I can use the thing even when mindlessly drunk) that I just don't care about the last dBm. And come on, not getting a call or being able to drop a call when you grip the thing tightly is not a bug. Nowadays it's a feature. I often just forget my phone to get something like that.

    dBm are like HP with cars and MP with digicams: Not everything. I still hate Apple but again I have to secretly admire SJ. Phones are so 20th century.

    1. Agrado

      Proximity sensor

      On my phone, there was no reception issue, and no proximity sensor issue.

      However, there is now - it looks like they've changed the proximity sensor code in the patch, and now it's changed from flawless to overly-sensitive.

  25. JaitcH

    Software patch doesn't improve poor RF levels

    Perhaps readers who actually though a mechanical defect could be fixed by a software patch should take a look at: < >.

    Old hands in he RF business knew already that software doesn't fix Lemon antennae.

    And for Job's next con ...

  26. Winkypop Silver badge

    When you're in a hole

    You should stop digging...

    1. Chemist

      Re : When you're in a hole

      The signal will probably be weaker still !

  27. Bryce Prewitt

    Fail and You.

    If ever there was a time, place and topic for Ted Dziuba and his "Fail and You" column to cover it would be now, in the Register and on the iPhone 4 debacle.

    I've no idea why he and El Reg parted ways, but this would be a hell of a time for a reunion.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably a decade late, but...

    ...I just had an epiphany! Steve Jobs could be Zaphod Beeblebrox! If only Douglas Adams were alive to see how Apple has adopted the logic of his Universe!

    This Zaphod's other head would be the one that chunters on about acid and India as though he weren't a shallow, self-important twat.

    1. MrT
      Thumb Up

      Douglas Adams...

      ... was an Apple fan.

      Maybe this is all down to a guy somewhere, getting occasional visits from people he doesn't remember, picking the iPhone design because his cat liked it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I guess

        the Lord knows!

    2. Scott 19


      Steve (or Zaphod) could just apply Patch 49 to it and it'd fix everything.

      1. Stuart Elliott


        Not patch 42 then?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    One other aspect to this...

    When I got my iPhone (3G) I moved from orange to o2. I was quite impressed with o2 and their signal coverage so I moved everything (3 phones and a datacard) to o2.

    So, it seems that I was incorrect, the signal coverage was being displayed wrong. Seems like maybe the mobile carriers haven't done too badly out of this supposed "bug"...

  30. heyrick Silver badge

    I get it now...

    So instead of displaying signal strength from like 1-100 in terms of five bars, they have tweaked the range to be more like 40-70 so anything less than a good signal, the bars will fall right off.

    And, wait, it isn't your phone, it's your cack reception.

    Has anybody tried other old or new firmware signal reporting compared with a different type of phone beside it? How does it match up?

  31. Lunatik

    Size of the patch?

    I hear the patch is something in the order of 580MB - to correct a formula in a signal strength display? Hmm, something fishy going on there...

    I've been in a similar position to Apple in that my old employer's audio products employed a logarithmic volume scale to their products and although the chip that controlled it only had 60 discrete steps, in the 1990s they went from displaying 0-60 on the volume display to showing 0-100 - nice round number, easier for people to get their head round...or so we thought.

    Obviously this required that some of the volume control steps didn't actually do anything to change the output, all were in the lower end of the scale where a step change was in the order of a fraction of a dB though so were extremely difficult to spot. Simple change, easily explained to anyone with half a brain should they even notice it, right?

    However, this didn't stop all sorts of idiots who couldn't understand dB, logarithms or audio processing from assuming we were somehow cheating them and not providing a linear scale that, despite being exactly the same as the 0-60 scale used previously, meant that 60 wasn't going to be 'twice as loud' as 30.

    We did consider 'doing an Apple' and releasing an updated volume control algorithm to appease the naysayers, but then we thought "Nah, fuck them" and left it as it was - the right decision in our case, but possible not Apples as they seem to have convinced themselves that there really was a problem (580MB, remember?).

    I'm not really an Apple fan (disclaimer: I own a 5yo iPod Nano) but I have some respect for what they have achieved and would hope that they have the courage in their product to actually show the offending code so that people can truly see what has been going on.

    Otherwise it'll be "where's my tinfoil hat?" time and possibly not even Steve Jobs can save them from a prolonged hangover from this whole affair.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Am I missing something?

    If you have an iPhone4 and the antenna is causing you a problem - take it back for a full refund within 30 days

    If you have an iPhone4 and aren't having problems (like me) then be happy.

    If you don't have an iPhone4 and are put off buying one by this nonsense, then buy something else.

    If you don't have an iPhone4 and don't want to buy one, then who cares what you think?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Hold the phone properly?

    Why do the fanbois still keep believing and peddling this nonsense about "how to hold a phone properly"?

    Surely the most acceptable approach is to hold a phone in the same manner i have since first obtaining my Sony CM-333 "Mars bar phone"....

    Put phone in hand, hold in comfortable posistion raise phone to ear and talk

    Its not rocket science, to suggest that you need a "special" handling process to use the iphone4 is a sorry state of affairs.

    I thought Apple had built a business model on ease of use, ergonomics (and peddling overpriced consumer electronics).

    Imagine if BMW decided to swap the brake and accellerator pedals in thier cars over..., and then have the audacity to suggest its not a design fault, the driver needs to adjust thier driving method to suit the counter intutative (sorry, i meant 'radical and innovative' )pedal configuration?

    You wouldnt do it with a car, why do it to a phone.

    Were no real world tests done on this, or were all the test engineers drunk in the bar with 'beer googles' on ? (mmm, myabe that was part of the test acceptance strategy... get the testers drunk and they would sign it off as good to go?

  34. Thomas 4

    I tried to update this over the air...

    ....but it failed because I was holding my phone the wrong way. I then updated it from my PC and it knows works properly - I have a maximum of 2 bar signal strength everywhere I go.

    Being serious for a moment, what happened to the guys that made my iMac G5? It's served me faithfully and has never let me down. I don't know who these new guys are by they sure as heck aren't the Apple I know and respect.

  35. Matt 13


    This update is for all iphones, not just the 4... and the mis-calculated signal bars issue is apparent on all models... does this mean that my iphone 3, which appears to have a signal strength meter that works as well as my Sony Erricson and doesnt appear to be buggered, will be brought inline with the new iphone 4 signal strength and start showing wildly fluctuating signal!!??

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends how you rate a phone

    Lets see how long this takes to get pulled apart.

    You have to bear in mind perspective, what we consider to be a good phone differs from person to person and again for large companies. Apple will probably consider a phone 'good' if it appeals to a wide cross section of the target market and sells well, in this respect the iPhone has always done well. Its clean design and easy use combined with its functionality appeal to a lot of people, whereas some of the other handsets for various reasons dont appeal to certain cliques of the market, i.e. too complex to use so gran wont want one, not pretty enough so the missus doesnt want it etc

    Personally I dont use my iPhone much for calls, mainly texting and apps and its more than capable, that being said I'm not going to OS4.1 yet.

    p.s. Didnt Apple also post that the bar strength was calculated on quality of signal rather than strength? i.e an intermittent -40/-77 dBM range isnt going to get you five bars because its intermittent

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Apple devices truly are magical!!!!!

    Magic software than can fix a hardware design flaw. Thank you St Jobs for your benevolence, we are not worthy*

    *typical fanboy response

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You are looking at thi sthe wrong way, shame on you, shame.

    "Before the update i have 5 bar 3G Signal on Orange UK... when i just touch the left corner band it went down to 1 Bar of just GPRS....

    After the update i have only 3 bars of 3G signal and when i touch the left corner band it goes down to 1 Bar of GPRS....."

    So, before the update holding the phone gave a signal drop of 4 bars. Post update holding the phone only gives a loss of 2 bars. So Apple have magiced you up 2 bars of receptiony delight through the goodness of their fruit-based hearts.

    Apple double the goodness of the only thing that should matter in your life and you still complain? Heretic.

    Seriously though, the point is that people are talking about the reception indicators now rather than the big elephant in the room that Apple hardware and software QA is clearly rubbish.

  39. Lord Lien


    ... how many more Reg articles there will be on the Iphone 4 repeating the same stuff. Is it me or do other people just read the headline & then go to the comments section. You know that anything on the Iphone/Apple is going to be amusing.

    The heart icon, because we need to spread a little more on here I think :)

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Too True!

      They really need to do more stories slagging off Linux, Android and MS so we can take the piss out of them too. I have loads of good MS jokes mostly relating to blue screens of death which don't even happen that often any-more but I hardly get a chance to use them! Such a great crying shame really!...

  40. Shaun Roe

    Nice brick, mate

    I know apple is all about the flashy smooth design, but at this rate you have to wonder how soon it will be before they bring out a lovely chrome covered snug-in-your palm lump of metal which does absolutely nothing and which we will all be queuing to buy.

    1. EddyS

      not me

      ....lump of metal which does absolutely nothing and which YOU will all be queuing to buy

  41. clarknova
    Jobs Halo

    Jobsy Mind Trick

    Steve: "There's no problem here..."

    Iphone fans: "There's no problem here"

    Steve: "You can go about your business buying Apple products"

    Iphone Fans: "We can go about our business...."

    Steve: "Move along..."

    Iphone fans: "Move along"

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bitten by their own secrecy?

    I seem to remember that when the whole iPhone 4 prototype thing blew up earlier this year the prototype itself was "disguised" as an older iPhone 3 with a kind of case.

    So have Apple found themselves hoist by their own obsession with secrecy?

    ie: new model with new design antenna disguised as older version out in field, therefore user's fingers/hand never make contact with antenna, therefore the antenna doesn't get proper real world testing, therefore etc etc you get the picture.

    If this is a factor hopefully they'll learn a lesson and put testing back above trying to be ultra-secretive about everything.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lunatik Re: Size of the patch?

    I don't think one can read too much into the size of the "patch" versus how little it actually does, because all "patches" these days (at least ones from Apple) are not actually patches per se, they're usually the whole application/operating system/phone operating system wrapped up for install all over again. All right, there might be some little variation here and there depending on what components are being fixed, but usually it's the whole shebang.

    Which is infuriating when one considers that there are some nice tools for patching that would make the downloads a lot smaller.

    But Apple's attitude seems to be "screw the user's bandwidth, let's just make them download the whole lot again".

  44. ViagraFalls
    Jobs Horns

    How difficult can it really be?

    Why doesn't el reg send out a few of the vultures with two new iPhones? An iPhone 4, and a 3GS. Same provider, so the only real deciding factor is the antenna. Put both of them next to one another, and take note of the signal strength reported. Then pick both up in a Jobesian-approved manner, and repeat. Finally, hold them the "wrong" way, and check again.

  45. LinkOfHyrule

    I've given up watching the Soaps...

    I watch Apple instead now - its twice as funny, twice as brain dead and has twice the lying/acting ability.

    This antenna thing is just as gripping as who shot Phil Mitchell (Steve Jobs even looks like Phil's anorexic twin brother!)

    1. SMFSubtlety
      Thumb Up


      just as gripping..... ha ha ha

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are you all upset?

    You'll be able to upgrade to iPhone 4.5 for only £400 in 3 months, or £350 if you trade in your iPhone 4.

  47. Chris Wood
    Jobs Horns

    Size of update

    Apple really need to sort out the way they deliver updates for the iPhone - 378MB to deliver a change to a single, very simply, algorithm is a bit of a joke. Given the number of iPhones out there, that's a significant amount of wasted internet bandwidth we're talking about.

  48. hugh
    Big Brother

    And one more thing...

    Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around the eyes, look into my eyes. [click] There is no signal drop.

  49. rahul

    I don't get it...

    So, why apply the software update? To know your correct signal strength, just grip the phone in a non-apple-recommended way; and BAM! you get the correct signal strength.

    A software bug fixed with a physical action (like to time I took an hammer to a Windows ME machine).

  50. AndrewG

    Shooting themselves in the foot

    Even when they try to rationalise it, they fail

    "Some users have reported that iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band. This is a far bigger drop than normal, and as a result some have accused the iPhone 4 of having a faulty antenna design..."

    So a non-faulty antenna design only drops 2-3 bars when held? How exactly is that non-faulty?

    "Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place."

    So when they grip their phones, the bars suddenly start reading true? Oh that explains everything, instead of IOS4.0.1 you just should have updated the firmware flaf for isHeld() to ON aways...problem solved (hmm..maybe that is IOS 4.0.1?)

    Complete and utter load of BS from the minions of Premier Jobs becasue the party can do no wrong.

  51. Blofeld's Cat

    May I be the first to say...

    Bar Humbug!

  52. Cool Hand Luke


    So, if I was to apply the update to my old 3G which ran like a dog on version 4 s/w anway, I used to get 2 bars of signal in the office, but it was sufficient to make calls. So, will my 3G now show 0 bars and I will be unable to make calls or will it show 0 bars and I will still be able to make a call?

    From what I understand Apple have basically just changed their calculation code from

    display.signal=(signal strength)


    display.signal=(signal strength)-2.

    Apologies to the coders it's been ten years since I've coded anything.

    In my simplistic world this means that 5 bars now = 3 bars, etc.., etc..

  53. Cool Hand Luke

    Forgot to say....(not that you're bothered!)

    I've ditched the 3G anyway and gone to an HTC Desire. I was going for the default choice of iPhone 4, but all this nonsense just made me want to abandon it.

    I'm no way anti-Apple I've got a 27" iMac and I'm one of the fools with an Apple TV, but you really don't realise how tied down the iPhone is until you use something else. Android handsets may take a bit of customisation to get them exactly how you want them, but at least you can customise them further than just setting a couple of background wallpapers.

    So I've got a nice looking phone, it's lighter than my 3G, has a better screen and it's cheaper than the iPhone 4. With apps like iSync and doubletwist I can even sync my desire with my massive iTunes library, so the only functionality I've lost is the ability to control my iTunes library on my iMac from my phone for free. You can do it, but I'm not going to pay for the app when I have the remote that was bundled with my apple TV.

    When Apple release the iPhone 5 I'll still evaluate it as I really liked my 3G.

  54. Scott 19


    Someone should tell microsoft that if they'd changed the ring of death to a square of death that would of fixed everything, although i do think this show's the difference when hardware fails at least M$ put there hands up and pretty much paid for all recalls including extending the warrenty.

    Apples solution remove 2 bars form a UI that really does nothing for the actual problem that the phone is having, brilliant.

  55. Ben Rosenthal

    anyone for Kool Aid?

    I've not tried one myself so have no opinion on how big a problem it actually is in reality (somewhere between not as bad as the haters say and worse than the fanbois would have you think probably), but I'm having real trouble swallowing that explanation due to the strong taste of bullshit.

  56. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    So now ...

    iPhone users will be wandering the streets wondering why they see fewer bars on their phone than other people do and asking why their connection drops while others keep on chatting, texting and surfing.

    Well done to Apple for revealing the true truth and coming clean but I don't see how this gets round the fundamental problem; the iPhone performs less well than other phones.

  57. James Sanderson, Jr.


    More venom from the Rag…errrr Reg.

    Interesting demo I saw today on a BBC report about technology’s invasiveness and importance. The reporter was using an iPhone 4, holding it in the prescribed manner to lose a signal, but the phone ‘just worked’ like it was supposed to. hummmmm.

    Have also read from other sources, perhaps less biased than this one, that the issue is something of a tempest in a teapot which sources like the Reg love to play up to make Apple really look bad.

    Well, the Reg’s motto is ‘biting the hand that feeds IT’, so it’s to be expected, I supposed. I’ll look here for a laugh and elsewhere for non-blog, non-baised journalism.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Spew

      Bye then!

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Title goes here

        I get all my hard news, facts and information from The Register. I get all my laughs and jokes from the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

        Long live el Rag!

      2. James Sanderson, Jr.


        no not, bye. I said I’ll read the Reg for a laugh.

  58. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    The worst part is ..

    .. that you can actually drop the signal on the 3GS as well. Just hold it at the bottom..

    Oh well, that will teach me. Delivering good product in one sector (MacBook Pro) does not guarantee a fully thought through product in another. BTW; the UI on iOS4 is IMHO not improved, but that's a personal opinion. It looks prettier, but I'd really like something that would allow me to calibrate the tilting sensitivity, and a one-button control to kill the language dictionary. It's not good at supporting multi-lingual users.

    1. James Sanderson, Jr.

      Signal drops

      Happens on quite a few phones. My company uses Blackberries. Guess what? Owned two Nokias, guess what. It’s a problem that all phones have.

      This is a not as big a deal as the Reg—or others—would like it to be. It’s just that the so-called Jesus phone, aka the Judas phone, has the problem, it’s #1, and so it’s a target for any flaw.

      Objectivity is the name of decent journalism. The Reg’s good for a laugh, and sometimes there’s even some decent journalism.

      But, ‘Biting the hand that feeds IT’ is its motto, after all. And that states its purpose. Go to ArsTechnica for real tech info.

  59. mulder
    Jobs Horns

    so i can sue them now?

    Sounds that apple has been lying to me about there product performance so i demand a refund on my first gen iphone.

  60. Jon 52

    Emperor Jobs new cloths

    This little article (old) explains why this "fix" will work,2772/

  61. mikebartnz

    Sad sacks

    I have never owned an Apple product and don't intend to in the near future but what a bunch of sad sacks here. My three to four year old Nolia will drop reception if I hold it incorrectly so I took note of what it said in the manual. Big deal.

  62. TkH11

    @EXAFLOPS'R'US - turning off the antenna circuits

    Actually, I very much doubt your idea would work. Powering off the antenna circuit probably just does only that, turn the power off to the transmit circuit. The antenna is still connected to the electronics on the circuit board,there's a transmit circuit comprising transistors, other passive components and a receive circuit too, again comprising inductors, capacitors, resistors and transistors.

    That lot combined with the fact that your body is at earth potential is probably still going to cause a problem.

  63. TkH11

    @Sarah Bee

    Sarah Bee, is there a character limit to the messages?? I don't appear to have exceeded it yet!!!

  64. TkH11

    @c1 hardware can't be fixed in software

    Yes it can. Since I'd say, the end of the 1980's the division between software and hardware has become blurred. A certain set of functionality can be implemented in hardware or software, for example, a digital filter can be implemented as a shift register made from flipflops with feedback paths. The exact same function can be implemented as a software module in a high level (or even low level) programming language (and often is).

    It follows that a problem in hardware can (but not always) be fixed in software.

    In fact from around the end of the 1980s/early 1990's when Xilinx introduce the RAM based field programmable gate array (FPGA), the hardware design is actually a software issue, with new 'software' being downloaded into the FPGA chip to change the hardware design.

    I'm not denying that sometimes the proper hardware fix to a hardware problem is the 'best' solution. I encapsulate the word best in quotation marks because the question here is what is the definition of the word best? What are the criteria?

    The hardware fix might be the best in terms of performance, but in Apple's case, as with any business, money is a very important factor.

    If enough performance can be gained by fixing issue in software, a hardware modifiction might be the proper solution to a hardware problem, but that requires a redesign, product recall and product re-issue, the 'best' solution as far as Apple and money goes is to release a software mod.

    I'm pasting here a post I made in relation to a similar news item so you can see that a software modification could very well be a viable solution to this hardware problem.

    "Actually, they could fix a hardware problem with software.

    The article talked about signal processing and signal to noise ratios.

    Fundamentally, the issue is one of the signal strength being reduced, and yes, you can't change that by software.

    But, what they could do is change their algorithms for demodulation and decoding the signal to give a better signal noise ratio and enable the signal to be recovered whereas hithertoo the SNR was too low because the signal was too weak.

    Putting in some noise reduction algorithms, or implementing some digital filters may help.

    I'm interested to see how effective this might be.

    It could turn out to be nothing, it depends on what the noise level and signal levels really are.

    It could be that the signal level is way above the noise level, and holding the aerial simply reduces the signal level by a few dB and the signal is still above the noise.

    In which case, adding noise reduction probably isn't going to help.

    If when holding the antenna the signal drops below the noise floor then noise reduction and techniques to extract the signal from the noise will help."

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like