Apple: iPhone reception problems related to 'incorrect formula'

Apple has responded to the iPhone 4 reception problems, stating that the formula it uses to calculate signal strength is "totally wrong." Where to start?
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Apple today posted a statement on its PR Web site regarding the iPhone 4. In the letter, the company addresses what it "has learned" from the "reception problems" plaguing the latest iPhone hardware.

Apple has "discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in bars" and that it was surprised and stunned that "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.

Then Apple details the solution:

To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s 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.

The clincher is the timeline. A free software update that incorporates the "corrected formula" will be released "within a few weeks."

Originally Apple tried to say it was the customer's fault for holding it wrong, now it's admitting some culpability, stating that it's an easy software fix. If so, why will it take a few weeks? Reading between the lines, that means that it won't be out within two weeks (or else it would have said a "couple" of weeks.) And if the clock starts today, a few weeks could mean July 23. Can Apple really afford to wait that long? Let's pray that Apple is under-promising and will over-deliver.

I find it absolutely hilarious that Apple is increasing the height of the bars. Is that so we can better see how little reception we really have? Or is it to make low reception look a little bit better? Displaying less bars wasn't exactly the fix that I was hoping for.

Update: Apple's proposed solution of extending the 1, 2 and 3 signal bars reminds me of the Seinfeld episode The Stand In where Mickey uses lifts to increase his height and is accused of "heightening."

You can read the entire letter on Apple's PR website.

Photo: Wired

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