The wifi indicator on both the phone and the iPad are really not that reliable sources of true signal strength. I'm typing this on my ipad3 4 feet max from my AE extender. Only have 3 bars according to the meter, but speed and connection are rock solid.
My iphone5 is a different story...I get full bars right through the house, but my 4s was often down to one dot, even though it too never dropped out or slowed down. What's more, holding it in a way that covers the aerial seems to have no effect on the bars either.
Bottom line is, as long as my connection is solid I tend to ignore the bars.