UPDATE John Gruber’s funny take on this: Translation From Apple’s Unique Dialect of PR-Speak to English of the ‘Letter From Apple Regarding iPhone 4’
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.
Translation, instead of going from 5 bars to 1 bar, you will go from 3 bars to 1 bar. This will not actually fix a problem that we all knew was hardware, it’s just adjusting the bars more evenly across the range of signal strength. Basically fixing my statement that not all 5 bars are not created equal, now the weak 5 bars will just show as 3.
So don’t get too excited, if you drop to 1 bar in hand, have crap 3G data speeds, and drop calls…nothing will change! This is just Apple trying to respond to this PR disaster.
Here is one way Apple really could fix the issue with software, I present my antenna software fix.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the chart AnandTech put together showing the signal drop of the iPhone 4 compared to the 3GS.
Taking the bars out of the equation and working with the real signal, you can see the iPhone 4 is loses 10x more signal compared to a 3GS when held naturally in your hand. Add this to the fact that a bumper can bring this factor down to just a bit over 2x proves that touching the antenna is detrimental to the signal. This proves, that although this was Apple’s big product launch ever, it’s also the biggest hardware design disaster ever as well.
For all we know Apple found out about this hardware issue when it was too late to fix so they just tweaked iOS 4 to show a larger range of the signal in the 5 bar range to mask the problem.
Apple ends the open letter with the real solution to the problem:
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.
Apple, why can’t you just boost the signal output when it drops 20 dBs? I’ll take a battery hit in exchange for a decent signal!
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