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macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 8, 2008
Can't believe no one has posted this yet!

Dear iPhone 4 Users,

The iPhone 4 has been the most successful product launch in Apple’s 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 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.

We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same— 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. 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.



macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 8, 2008
I don't really see how it can just be a misrepresentation of the signal strength if people are reporting dropped calls and data grinding to a halt.


macrumors member
Jun 22, 2010
At least they have moved from the "nothing to see here, move along" PR stance.


macrumors 6502
Jun 21, 2010
I just read this and it has me more concerned then before. If this is the case then my signal at home is pretty ******! LOL! But at least they said they were working on something. So I guess it's a start. I will continue to use it and see how it goes. I may switch back to Verizon for a droid. However, I do love this phone. Tough decision.


macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2008
Surprisingly, no matter how I hold my iPhone 3G at my house it never completely loses signal and I'm always able to make calls. But, if I place my pinky finger over the little black strip on the bottom left side of my iPhone 4, my signal drops and I can't make any calls. That, Apple, has nothing to do with the number of bars being displayed.


macrumors 68030
May 26, 2009
This doesn't fix the fact that the moment I touch the "gap" my data over 3G stops instantly (as seen in the video in my sig).


macrumors 68020
After reading this the first time I had to check that I was actually on Apple's PR website. I'm not sure this letter improves things much.

If my signal is over-displaying now, I might be in negative territory once this "fix" is applied.

Luckily it's rare for me to be in a low-signal area. I think.


macrumors 68020
Jun 19, 2010
"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."

I love how Apple thinks its customers are idiots. So we are to believe that Apple has not figured this out after 4 years of making a handset?


macrumors 68000
Jan 9, 2007
If you are having problems and are unsatisfied with your phone, vote with your wallet not your mouth.


macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2009
New Jersey
Curious where you foudn that article, because I am shocked they are using AT&T's advice in their formula, when I returned my first i4 The Apple Store kept blaming my loss of signal on my carrier, and being that I live in the USA that would be AT&T, interesting, however it is all Smoke and Mirrors as far as I am concerned because I used to be able to get reception and make calls where I can not with my i4, that is not just a carrier issue, there is a major flaw in the Antenna design, and I have used a case from the minute I bought both i4 phones.


macrumors 65816
May 20, 2008
So instead of going from 5 to 3 bars it's gonna go from 3 to 1. Great. :apple:


macrumors 65816
Sep 8, 2009
I seem to have lost the "signal problem" My bars won't decrease no matter how I hold the iPhone.

Not quite sure what I did though...


macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2007
I'm OK with this response from Apple.
At least they issued a statement.

The reality is that I don't have problems with the antenna that others are reporting. Maybe it is true that there is attenuation of the signal while you are covering up the antenna, but actual real-world usage has not been a problem for me.

What I really wish for is Apple to fix the proximity sensor issue.


macrumors regular
Jun 23, 2010
At least it's a response even though they are covering it up and not acknowledging the real issue. I'm still all for the law suits and bad press to make apple "see the light" and man up


macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2010
This is complete bull**** I have 3 iPhone 4 and two of them suffer problems and the otherone dosent so it can't be signal issues. Is hardware issues. Wtf


macrumors 6502
Jun 10, 2010
Oh dear Apple, what the hell are you doing. Unless you secretly fix the issue as well as the representation of bars, no one will be fooled.

I personally have dropped calls when holding in my left hand - this isn't going to change.

Looks like I need to start looking for a new phone...


macrumors P6
Jun 22, 2009
I posted this in the other thread but wanted to add to it..

Keep in mind that it's not a straight formula. If you had 3 - that doesn't mean you'll have 1. The formula isn't just -2. What they are saying is that the range/logarithm is different and (for example) 5 MIGHT be 3. It might still be 5. It might be 4.


As I said - Apple has great marketing and PR spin.

I don't believe (sorry) that the computation was in error. I believe that since the first iPhone - they came up with a formula (and probably despite ATT's "suggestion") to make it appear that the iPhone had the very best reception than any other cell phone.

Now that they are under scrutiny for what could be a "bad" design, they are taking "blame." for a bad logarithm. In short - what they're doing is shifting the blame back to the carriers (not just ATT) by saying - oh wait - yes - we were wrong with our display - but it's really a carrier issue - not ours.

Nice one.
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