∞ Apple isolates iPhone 4 reception issues, offers software fix

In a letter posted to its Web site on Friday, Apple says it has figured out what is causing the reception issues on its new iPhone 4 and will release a fix within a few weeks. Calling the cause of the problem “both simple and surprising,” Apple said they have been mistakenly reporting the number of signal bars since the original iPhone. The company said the formula it’s been using has been totally wrong and it will move to AT&T’s recommended formula.

“Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength,” reads Apple’s statement on the issue. “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 says the free software update will work for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.

In its testing, Apple said “the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped.”

“For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate,” said Apple. “For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused.”

  • Anxiously awaiting all of the iPhone 3G and 3GS users that are going to be complaining about how the latest software update killed their reception. 😐

    That being said, the fact that they aren’t changing anything but the signal indicator means a case is still the answer …and Apple’s not getting my money for that on principle. OtterBox has my eye so far.

  • Eric

    Yep, and that explains why it’s not a universal problem for everyone.

    (Jim D’s beard actually makes it improve reception when it holds an iPhone 4. I wonder what the Macalope will say about that?)

    The frustrating part for me is that I live and work in the two worst areas I’ve found for phone reception by AT&T. I’m afraid if there ever is an iPhone on another carrier, I might have to give that a whack when my contract runs out.

  • Adam

    A software patch can’t change the laws of physics. It is a fact that I am able to cause my iPhone 4 to lose data connectivity just by touching the metal band (not gripping it tightly) when sitting in my office, something which never occurred in the two years that I used my iPhone 3G in the exact same location. Fiddling with the way the bars are displayed can’t fix that.

  • JohnO

    While I’d agree that the signal strength bars (even on my 3GS) are over optimistic, I wonder if claiming that this is a “solution” will end up causing Apple more trouble than if they didn’t address it.

    It’s sort of like the dog seeing a squirrel in the movie, “Up.”

  • I’m getting a full 5 bars of shamelessness from your post headline, where I only got 4 bars from Apple’s “explanation”.

  • jack

    you know why the “formula error” happened right? the iphone gets crappy reception period. and if you have two bars instead of none you dont really think about how much of a piece of junk yur phone really is.

    • Eric


      Your wayback machine is broken. Go somewhere Apple-haters frequent, Fandroid.