Skip to comments.Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4 [Apple's fix for the 'faulty' antenna]
Posted on 07/02/2010 7:03:12 AM PDT by Yo-Yo
July 2, 2010 Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4 Dear iPhone 4 Users,
The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apples history. It has been judged by reviewers around the world to be the best smartphone ever, and users have told us that they love it. So we were surprised when we read reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating them. Here is what we have learned.
To start with, gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones. But 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.
At the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS. They are delighted. This matches our own experience and testing. What can explain all of this?
We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars, and it is both simple and surprising.
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 dont 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.
To fix this, we are adopting AT&Ts recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhones bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see.
We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G.
We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same the iPhone 4s 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. For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused.
As a reminder, if you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
We hope you love the iPhone 4 as much as we do.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Its not a bug its a feature ping.
I have a theory on how these issues slipped by. I think all of the folks who had units to beta test had bumpers on them so casual observers couldn’t tell it was the new phone. The bumper would certainly mask the antenna issue because it would insulate your hand from the metal. I wonder also if the design of the bumpers wouldn’t also mask the proximity sensor issue causing dropped calls. The sensor works on light so a bumper may seal against your skin and block light whereas a naked phone would not.
Everyone I know with the iPhone 4 has all of the reported problems. Most have gotten bumpers and the problems go away.
Fix kit is set with enough duct tape to securely affix it to the phone.
The bumpers cost WAY too much for what you get. I am sure they would cost Apple next to nothing. Why doesn’t Apple throw the bumpers in and be done with it?
I finally gave up of the iPhone and went with a Motorola Droid. Love the change.
They built it so the bar display would fib to their customers—and it’s backfired on them.
As long as you don't hold it in your hand....
...or they are now just going to mask the real antenna problem by changing the way the bars are displayed.
You're right. Did you catch this line in the Press Release:
"Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G."
Well, if the software error has been present since the original iPhone, then why hasn't the "you're holding it wrong" problem also been there since the beginning?
Apple’s Customer Support Sheet:
1. Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy your tone when delivering this information is important.
a. The iPhone 4s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.
b. Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.
c. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.
d. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.
e. The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.
2. Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns.
3. Dont forget YOU STILL NEED to probe and troubleshoot. If a customer calls about their reception while the phone is sitting on a table (not being held) it is not the metal band.
4. ONLY escalate if the issue exists when the phone is not held AND you cannot resolve it.
5. We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers DONT promise a free bumper to customers.
Easy fix, put on tin foil hat and run wire from hat to phone. LOL
Because the earlier models don't have the antenna built into the case like the new one. I think there's clearly a greater issue with reduced reception with the iPhone 4 because of it.
In retrospect, the "incorrect bars" doesn't sound so far-fetched to me. I either have "full bars" or nothing on my 3GS most of the time. I can't remember ever seeing a 3-bar signal since getting it 5 months ago.
Two friends walked into a bar. The third one ducked.
I read a post here that nokia tried the same thing and eventually did find a fix HOWEVER apple does not want to pay for the right to use the fix.
Instead they want you to buy a “bulk up” phone case.
I use one of those moronic bluetooth ear pieces, but it makes it so that I don’t use my hands when I’m on my iPhone4 (because of driving). I haven’t had any issues.
I like the thing. Someone showed me their Android the other day. No thanks.
Makes you wonder how much else is totally wrong doesn't it? I have to admit I thought this letter was a sick joke until I looked at my browser's address bar and it showed apple.com. Can anyone imagine the howls from the media if Microsoft issued a letter like this?
Only someone young enough to believe in Santa Claus would buy this tripe:
1. This happens to all mobile phones when held in the hand.
2. But we get letters from lots and lots and lots of people that say it doesn't happen to OUR phone.
3.We just discovered the bars have always been wrong for all of our phones all the time (we somehow missed that for years), and we're issuing a software patch that will show lots of bars all the time, no matter what. That will fix the no-bars problem.
Sounds like a lawyer trying out one lame argument after another until some gullible judge bites on one.
remember when full bars meant happy hour on friday after work?
not a oprahfied eunach sitting home twittering/facebooking a simulated life.
I think you nailed it right there. The only reason I am avoiding the ipohne is that you can only use AT&T. Verizon has much better coverage where I live.
That is exactly what this is, and absolutely nothing else.
To think this is about customer satisfaction, performance, or any other tripe is to be clueless as to how Silicon Valley really works.
This might explain why with no signal at all I have 4 bars but that 4 bars was really for several minutes ago when I did actually have a signal before I walked into a building.
Apple screwed up the programming but wants to claim it was a simple mistake partly to blame on AT&T.
“... the iPhone 4s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped.”
So if the software is always adding a couple of bars, does that mean EVERY iPhone reception has NEVER been as good as the competition ?
Are we supposed to believe that Apple or AT&T have NEVER done side by side lab comparision testing with competitors phones ?
I suspect when this “fix” is sent out, it will be found that holding your iPhones many other ways results in a poorer signal also - it just never showed up on the bars.
Right now the cell service is horrible. It is almost impossible to make calls. I am not being overly dramatic here. AT&T is really blowing this bad. I have a 3Gs and have never experienced such bad cellular service. They are clearly way over subscribed at this point.
LOL! That's funny!
Also, I just LOVE the spin from Apple about how there is no problem, they're just showing the bars wrong... Maybe they can explain these following images, then, because it doesn't at ALL corroborate their latest attempt to manage the story:
From Wired Magazine. Lower numbers are better. We see the 3GS was stellar, and did not lose anywhere near equal levels as the iPhone 4.
Also, for the not-as-technically included, dB for RF measurements is a 10 log scale. Meaning a change of 3 dB is a HALVING of value. Going from 9 dB to 24 dB means you lost 97% of your signal strength.
From Gizmodo. Here's the information:
speed test with the phone sitting down, with his hands on the phone, and one with his hands on but with a leather case on it. They're in order, and the one with his hands on the bare phone is really bad times
I'd call zero upload and a 17 second ping time a REALLY bad time. Much more than going from 5 bars to 1 bar would indicate.
Apple's trying to weasel out by changing the way they show bars, and hope that the public buys the message (which it probably will, because it's Apple after all). But the actual hard-core measurements PROVE there is a problem, and it's NOT related to the way antenna strength is shown. It's an actual, real-world problem.
This kind of technical data will kill Apple in a lawsuit. You cannot answer it with just "we showed bars wrong". It proves at a physical level that the iPhone 4 has significant reception problems if you just hold your phone in the left hand.
For the not-as-technically included (sic), dB attenuation is relative to a signal, not an absolute measurement. A higher dB attenuation doesn't necessarily mean a lower signal if you are starting with a higher signal strength in the first place.
“A higher dB attenuation doesn’t necessarily mean a lower signal if you are starting with a higher signal strength in the first place. “
So the iPhone has a higher signal strength? Do you have anything showing its signal strength vs that of other devices?
For the actual relationship between decibels and signals, including what antiRepublicrat wrote:
PLEASE NOTE, if you post a thread on APPLE, iPHONES, iPAD, or Macs, and wish to notify the Apple/Mac,iPhone,iPad list, please have the courtesy to Ping me, so that I may ping the list. Certain anti-Apple persons, notably, for-q-clinton, PugetSoundSoldier, and a few others are deliberately NOT pinging me to their negative, anti-Apple threads... for reasons of their own.
If you want on or off the Mac Ping List, Freepmail me.
I'm not having a problem where I live in Stockton, California. But I think with the addition of 1.5 million 3G iPads in the last two months... and the addition of 2 million iPhone4s, you may be on to something, especially in urban areas with lots of devices.
It's not signal strength to individual devices, its crowded cell towers handling too many signals, dropping connections as they switch around from computer to computer and tower to tower.
Anybody but Apple’s fault.
Who will it be next?
driftdiver: "So the iPhone has a higher signal strength? Do you have anything showing its signal strength vs that of other devices?"
Swordmaker, you might want to file this comment as a retort whenever driftdiver starts mouthing off. Yakking about a receiver's "signal strength"! Can one get more ignorant on technical issues?
“Swordmaker, you might want to file this comment as a retort whenever driftdiver starts mouthing off. Yakking about a receiver’s “signal strength”! Can one get more ignorant on technical issues?”
Ahh so you mean AT&T has a higher signal strength than Verizon? HA! Yet another insult from a silly macbot.
Considering I earned my amateur radio license at 17 I’d wager I know more about signal strength than you do.
Pathetic, keep trying and you might one day grow up.
And by the way, the “transmitter” strength used by wireless companies is dictated by the FCC. what a pathetic macbot attack
Not a problem, they’re fixing it,...by making the bars much taller in the display,...now stop complaining about not having enough bars.
And by the way, the transmitter strength used by wireless companies is dictated by the FCC. what a pathetic macbot attack
Driftdiver do you have a comparison between the reception of different devices from the same source to the different receivers at the same location? If you don't, this discussion is meaningless.
By the way, I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't even own a cell phone, except for a couple of disposables that might be lying around. Where I live, there is no cell phone reception.
I am an electrical engineer and know a little bit about electrical signals.
Could this wrong formula that “stunned” them have been created and planted in the phones during update 2.0.2 as a “solution” to this problem ?
If so, you are looking at massive increases in dropped calls as this “fix” hits the streets.
Then you should know cell phones have a tx and a rx. The post I was responding to was claiming iPhones have strong signals.
Where is your data? If you are claiming that Iphones don't have strong signals what is your evidence?
In an attempt at CYA, you changed your dumb@$$ statement to:
"Ahh so you mean AT&T has a higher signal strength than Verizon?
Before you try to "one-up" me, know this: I retired after a long, successful career in microelectronics R&D and engineering.
And, I got my Ham license in 1980 -- when even Techs had to r/s Morse @ 5 wpm -- and I designed and built a lot of my own gear.
So don't try to bull$#!+ me by switching from receiver (iPhone) to transmitters (AT&T & Verizon) to cover your dumb @$$.
This isn’t rocket science guys. This is very simple measurements.
Where are the measurements so that we can make comparisons?
If there are no measurements, this entire discussion is just silly.
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