‘Stunned’ Apple spins signal issue

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Apple explains away and passes the buck by suggesting iPhone 4 coverage issues are ultimately down to operators, and that its error is software-related only, and fixable

Apple has responded to widespread reports of signal problems with its new iPhone 4 handset by suggesting, in fact, the error is with the formula it uses to calculate signal strength.

It said it had inadvertently misled users into believing their handset signals are stronger than they are; suggesting its network partners are responsible ultimately for the coverage experience.

Some iPhone 4 users have claimed the signal on the iPhone 4 can drop to nothing suddenly when the handset is gripped to cover the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band that runs around the device.

It has been claimed the issue is down to a hardware design error on Apple’s part.

Apple’s rejected this, and has now claimed there has been some miscalculation to lead users to expect a better signal than they should, and that it will issue a software update to rectify the problem shortly.

Apple said in a press release today: “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.

“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.

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.”

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