Apple 'stunned' to find iPhones show too many bars

Jul 02, 2010 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer
In this June 7, 2010 photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs uses the new iPhone 4, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Apple said Friday, July 2, it is "stunned" to find that its latest iPhone model uses a "completely wrong" formula to show how many bars of signal strength it's getting. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(AP) -- Apple Inc. said Friday that it was "stunned" to find that its iPhones have for years been using a "totally wrong" formula to determine how many bars of signal strength they are getting.

Apple said that's the reason behind widespread complaints from users that the latest model, iPhone 4, can show a sudden plunge in signal strength when they hold it in a way that covers a small black strip on one edge of the phone. Users online have jokingly called this the "death grip" for the phone.

That drop seems exaggerated because the phone can wrongly display four or five bars of signal strength when it shouldn't, Apple said.

"Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place," the company said in a letter to users.

Apple launched the iPhone 4 on June 24 in the U.S. and four other countries.

Some outside engineers and users have blamed the iPhone 4's apparent reception problems on the novel design that incorporates its antenna into the case. But the company said that any phone will show reduced reception if held in a way that covers the antenna, usually mounted at the rear and bottom of a phone. It maintains that iPhone 4's wireless performance is better than previous models. And it said the incorrect signal-strength formula existed in the original iPhone, launched in 2007.

Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., said it will fix its signal strength formula to conform to other AT&T phones through a free software update for iPhone models 3G, 3Gs and 4 within a few weeks.

"We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see," Apple said.

Despite recurring complaints about dropped calls and slow data service, particularly in the U.S., the iPhone is a standout success, with each model selling faster than the previous one. Apple said it sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s in its first three days, essentially running out of stock.

AT&T Inc., the exclusive iPhone carrier in the U.S., has faced much of the users' blame for dropped calls and poor wireless performance. Apple apologized to customers Friday "for any anxiety we may have caused."

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User comments : 13

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twelvepackterry
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2010
The only thing that keeps me from getting an iPhone is AT&T. I will not associate with AT&T for the rest of my life. If it is the only phone company available, I will NOT have a phone. And verison isn't much better than AT&T.

I don't understand why we cannot choose which phone supplier we want for the iPhone.
Jimbaloid
5 / 5 (6) Jul 02, 2010
Making bars 1, 2 and 3 a little taller is pure physcological tinkering to represent the signal as if stronger, which only serves to make the rest of the the explanation then seem like a smoke and mirrors trick, even if it is not.
Bob_Kob
5 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2010
This sounds a little far fetched, imo this was the cheapest way to fix the problem. Rather than issue a recall, just put a software update that puts wool over the apple users eyes. Just like usual.
ArcainOne
4.5 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2010

I don't understand why we cannot choose which phone supplier we want for the iPhone.


Unfortunatly it is all about contracts, and AT&T "had" an exclusivity contract with Apple. The Up side is it ran out several months ago. Personally I dislike the iPhone and pretty much everything else Apple (used to be a mac person). So I went with verizon, my blackberry can play all mp3 and mp4 music and video formats which is what 95% of my music library is anyway.
Bob_B
3.2 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2010
Apple products: rotten to the core and very expensive. A waste of money, but Apple products do make a lot of people stoked by their EGO, not the products, as there is absolutely NOTHING new in Apple products that others sell for less.
IMHO.
fmfbrestel
2 / 5 (5) Jul 02, 2010
I really wish Apple would get back to their core business, building well engineered computers with the best operating system available. If they aren't careful ubuntu may start exceeding them in the OS performance arena.
El_Nose
not rated yet Jul 02, 2010
@Bob

personallyi hate apple - i will flame at some other time

but this fix -- actually fixing the calculation is a correct step. the adjustment to the height of the bars though is pretty sad. but clearly there is no need for a recall. Especially since 90% of people will be buying a phone slip and that will fix the touching the attenea problem.
sherriffwoody
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2010
I really wish Apple would get back to their core business, building well engineered computers with the best operating system available. If they aren't careful ubuntu may start exceeding them in the OS performance arena.

Ubuntu already outperforms both Mac and Windows 7 systems. If you mean 'will soon have a larger percentage of users than apple, then the world will be better for it'
I Hope Meego lives up to its poteintal
baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2010
Jimbaloid: The first three bars are going to be different so that you can tell that the phone that you are going to buy will already have the upgrade.
Nyloc
5 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2010
Cell phone companies perpetrate the worst of all my experiences as a consumer, using deception at every step, resulting in extra expenses.
If car purchases worked like cell phones:
You want a basic car to do basic tasks; you're upsold to a car with a huge model with more features than you'll need; the basic plan will allow you to drive yourself only on certain days; to carry passengers, you have to lease their roof rack for 3 years; its more expensive to drive fast; you can only drive on their roads unless you buy a $$ roaming plan; it costs extra to signal; you pay to use the radio; non of this is explained unless you ask the right questions. The car breaks before you've paid it off.
MorituriMax
2 / 5 (4) Jul 02, 2010
"Ubuntu already outperforms both Mac and Windows 7 systems."

Too bad all their software is cheap (albeit good quality) knockoffs of stuff you find on Apple or Windows systems. I couldn't run an Ubuntu system and still have access to the software I actually use in the real world.

Right now, to me, Ubuntu or other Linux systems are like toy computers you mess with to see if you are really smart enough to figure out an OS that doesn't spoon feed you a dumbed down UI and the dumbed down software to coddle people who don't want to get into the nuts and bolts.

So until Ubuntu can come up with software that rivals the power and ease of use that Win/Mac systems offer, I'll have to leave Linux to the tech geeks who like limited hard to use copies of Win/Mac. Go Ubuntu! May you eventually make it to the mainstream.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 03, 2010
So what they're actually saying is, that they've been faking good signal strenght all along on the iPhone. "Oops".

Fudging the numbers doesn't actually fix anything though. The phone still drops voice and data transmission when you do the death grip.
CreepyD
not rated yet Jul 03, 2010
Yet people still buy it just because it's 'cool' and they are brain washed into believing it's the best phone around by a miles.
I have to applaud Apple for achieving this kind of status with so many people though. Personally I would never buy one, I love my Android phone and am constantly showing my colleague at work how my phone is better than his iPhone :)

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