Apple's Press Release: iPhone Uses Wrong Formula to Report Signal Strength

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by G4R2, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. G4R2 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    Apple has issued a press release regarding the iPhone antennae issue. According to their findings the iPhone uses the incorrect formula to report the signal strength, giving users the false impression that their stronger then it really is and leading to the impression that attenuation is leading to greater signal drops.

    A software update is promised to fix the erroneous calculation of signal strength.

    CUPERTINO, Calif., July 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —
    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.
  2. msduncan macrumors 6502

    Jan 27, 2010

    Somehow the incorrect formula is duping my Speedtest application into thinking that I get massive data speed loss when I hold it with the death grip then.... right??? Right???

    NO! What is happening is exactly what I thought was going to happen: Apple is covering the problem by patching a mask into the OS so that you think the bars don't move when you hold it that way. Less responsive bars = less people noticing = Apple doesn't' have to do a damn thing to fix our legitimate problems.
  3. AdamA9 macrumors 65816

    Feb 2, 2010
    Hahahahaha! Awesome! The bars drop too much so we'll change the formula so it doesn't look as bad as it does.

    This still doesn't fix the issue of the dropped calls when holding it normally? :confused:
  4. G4R2 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    Even without the signal attenuation that is occurring users would likely experience dropped calls, courtesy of AT&T. That's true of the current iPhone, previous models, and most phones sold by AT&T. Dropped calls on AT&T is not specific to the iPhone 4.

    As far as the signal bars, there really should be some standard industry formula to calculate it. Misleading bars has been a problem since before the iPhone and it seems that manufacturers are able to tweak it to bolster the impression that the network is stronger than it is or that the phone has better reception than it does. I've had phones on both Sprint and Verizon behave this way and it's exceedingly frustrating to see your signal strength drop from full bars to none. When I first saw this occurring I thought that the cell tower must be near a highway and that every it happened it was because a truck was driving between the tower and me.
  5. msduncan macrumors 6502

    Jan 27, 2010
    I don't think you understand, or either you are not putting enough confidence into those of us that have spent hours reproducing and testing this problem to find patterns.

    I can talk for as long as I want without a dropped call on this phone if I'm not holding it with the gap bridged.

    When I grip it with the gap bridged, the bars drop and then the call drops. 100% of the time. I look at it on Speed Test and my data rate is consistent and steady. When I hold it with the gap bridged my data rate falls to SINGLE numbers and my upload speed won't even register with the problem.

    Signal strength calculations are NOT to blame for this.
  6. G4R2 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2006
    I'm pretty sure I do understand.

    And despite the hours of wasted time some have put into this issue, it remains the case that even with a perfectly attenuated antennae all AT&T cell phones suffer from dropped calls. Maybe you haven't owned a cell phone AT&T before?

    It seems you're not giving enough credit to what probably amounts to the billions of hours, if not more, of users over at least the last three years of iPhones on AT&T and other cell phones prior to the iPhone that have generated this consistent complaint.

    Objectively, there simply isn't enough data as yet to establish a causal relationship between the iPhone 4's antennae placement and the phenomena of dropped calls on the iPhone specifically, particularly since dropped calls was a long standing complaint of the network prior to the iPhone 4's introduction. Yes, there obviously is something going on with the antennae. But it's unclear if this is actually leading to a greater number of dropped calls since causing this to occur requires a particular posture. Many sites have reported opposite findings in relation to the iPhone 4's predecessor, even when taking the antennae attenuation problem into account.

    And finally, it is inarguably the case that phone makers have long used arbitrary algorithms to estimate and display signal strength. The result is that full bars on one phone may not be equivalent to a single bar on another phone, even though both are actually receiving and using the same signal strength. All manufacturers would be well served to standardize this in order to avoid confusion among their customers and create a basis for addressing these issues. I'm not sure why you find issue with this. You just seem to be upset in general.
  7. TheBama macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2010
    Birmingham, AL
    For the lawsuit crowd: Note that apple states FULL REFUNDS are available. If you aren't satisfied, take it back and hold them to that, as the lawsuit will likely die for being filed when you could have gotten relief from Apple directly.

    As for the signal claim. I believe it. On my desk my phone is showing 5 bars when my old one never showed more than 2-3 in my office. Also explains why the "death grip" can't be demonstrated in an area with good signal.

    I'm happy with my phone and keeping it!

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