Sadly the famous death grip will still cause calls to drop
The controversy regarding the iPhone 4 death grip – the so-called way of holding the iPhone 4 to get it to lose its signal and drop a call takes a new twist with Apple explaining that the problem is how you hold the phone but rather the incorrect algorithm used to display antenna bars. It seems according to the company that people are holding the phone in a manner which blocks the antenna and when they do their very weak signal becomes even weaker and poof – the call is gone. A surprise to many will certainly be the fact that the algorithm used to calculate antenna strength is the same as it was in the 3GS and 3G.
This issue has become huge in the blogoshphere and even inspired a class-action suit and now Apple is hoping it goes away with a software fix expected to more accurately display how many reception bars the phone really has.
As I have mentioned in the past – I haven’t experienced any problems with the iPhone 4’s reception and we have another iPhone 4 here at TMC which hasn’t had any problems either. Interestingly I have noticed that when turning the phone on from a shut down – sometimes the Bluetooth radio will not turn on requiring a reboot. Also, I had the phone shut down on m once for no reason at all.
I would expect these problems to go away with future software updates.
Here is a letter from Apple explaining the details:
July 2, 2010
Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4
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.