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July 2, 2010

Apple issues statement clarifying iPhone 4 reception issue

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by Darren Allan

Apple has come forward and published an open letter regarding the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco.

If you’ve missed this one (not sure how you could manage that, really…) then it’s an issue that some iPhone 4 owners are reporting whereby holding their phone touching the bottom left hand corner is causing the signal level to drop.

In the statement, Apple says that gripping any mobile in a certain way could reduce its reception by a bar or two, and this is true of the iPhone 3GS, as well as the likes of the Droid (Milestone over here) and Nokia phones.

Interesting that the company singles Nokia out for a mention, given that it was the Finnish company who published a parody piece about the antenna issue on its official blog page.

Anyhow, Apple acknowledges that with the iPhone 4, some users have had the signal strength drop by four or five bars.

The company writes: “We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.” So what is it? A hardware fault? A software problem? The way the wind is blowing? Interference dust scattered by malicious Microsoft pixies?

It is, Apple says, a software glitch. “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.”

“For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. 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.”

Apple finishes by apologising to anyone who has been troubled by this issue, and promises a software update which will correct the erroneous signal display readings within the next few weeks.

The update won’t just be for the iPhone 4, but also the 3G and 3GS, which Apple says also suffer from this issue.

Of course, this update won’t actually do anything about calls dropping out when the antenna is covered, if you’re experiencing that as some iPhone 4 folks on the net are still claiming with increasingly annoyed voices.

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