Apple Addresses iPhone 4 'Receptiongate,' Blames Software Bug
CREDIT: Apple Inc
Apple issued a statement today saying the widespread reports of reception problems with its new iPhone 4 are actually an overlooked display issue and not a hardware glitch with the phone's innovative antenna.
"We have discovered the cause of this dramatic drop in [signal] bars, and it is both simple and surprising," Apple said in its statement. "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."
In many instances, an iPhone would display two more bars of signal strength than it should, Apple said. So when the signal appeared to plummet from four or five to nearly nothing, the antenna was not to blame; instead, the signal strength was inflated to begin with.
The "big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place," Apple said.
This issue has existed since the very first iPhone, Apple claims, and was only revealed with this latest version whose antenna is not internal, like other phones. Instead, the structural steel bezel that wraps around the iPhone aesthetically serves as its antenna.
In the week since the new smartphone came out, the blogosphere has been fuming with reports of the iPhone 4's "death grip" – holding the phone in its lower-left corner and covering a thin black strip – that can make signal bars fall down to nothing.
Apple had been officially mum on the issue, though CEO Steve Jobs responded to some emails advising iPhone 4 users not to hold the phone that way (easier said than done, as Jobs himself held the phone in this manner when debuting it an event).
Despite this issue and others, such as screen discolorations , the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units in three days , making it the "most successful product launch in Apple’s history," the statement noted.
And overall, iPhone 4 reviews have been very positive , as Apple also pointed out. "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."
To resolve the reception display issue, Apple says it will issue a free software patch with a corrected signal strength formula in the next few weeks.
"For the vast majority of users who have not been troubled by this issue, this software update will only make your bars more accurate," Apple said. "For those who have had concerns, we apologize for any anxiety we may have caused."
Goes with the territory
Apple maintains that "gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars," so while the reception drop is genuine, it is not as dire as it looks.
The Friday morning announcement before a holiday weekend might not quell the furor over "Receptiongate," especially because Apple has stuck to its guns on the hardware front.
"The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped," Apple said.
TechNewsDaily spoke to experts about waiting a few months before buying a new smartphone , and the received wisdom is that until the bugs get worked out, it may indeed be wise to postpone a purchase.