Apple Makes Official Statement On Antennae Issue

Here you go folks, straight from the horse’s mouth:

Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4

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.


Source: Apple

TL;DR: Apple has been calculating the number of bars wrong since the original iPhone. They’ve been showing more bars than are actually there on occasion. An OS update is on the way to fix that.


    • Simba33 says

      haha thats great, i was starting to get restless about this because i KNOW i wasnt crazy and making it up seeing my friends i4 lose service completely. nor was it “rumors”. everyone needs something to complain about, but everyone needs something to defend also. defenders that have no problem, (or want to think they dont), kept telling people with problems to grow up and stop complaining. well there ya go, they werent crazy and they were complaining about something that was happening. sure they jumped the gun at complaining but for $200+ for a product that the announcement said was the best you expect it to be the best.

  1. Eric says

    I dont know if this announcement is better or worse. They have been misrepresenting the signal quality for 3 years?

    If the problem has been in place for years, why hasn’t this dramatic drop been reported in previous phones?

  2. Gervais says

    Like I said, ” this software update will only disquise the bars from showing an accurate Signal strength”. If you hold your phone and you notice signal bars drop, how does a formula fix a phone from the strenght of signal it receives? The point here is that when you hold the phone you lose a signal. A true fix would be that you be capable of holding the phone and notice no signal drop. Seriously people(Americans), you are so goable and will eat anything fed to you that you would actually not question this. This is a hardware flaw. I bet I can wrap up soft plastic that taste like strawberry’s and people would buy it and eat it. Hmmm

    • Howie2g says

      What makes you think people, Americans, buy this? That’s a stupid notion, coming from an American here.

    • Imotionb18 says

      I’m with you there. I haven’t had any reception issues, but I am putting people on hold everyother call I’m on. I’m confident that this will be an easy fix though.

  3. says

    This makes no sense…. What Ive noticed with my phone is that in some areas when I hold my iphone4 in the “wrong way” as apple says I loose signal and in some areas when I hold it in the same “wrong way” it doesnt. So in low signal areas it looses signal and in strong areas it doesnt…. this is not a software issue its an hardware issue… PERIOD.

  4. Hawk says

    The thing that gets me is that places where you had no problems placing a call on your 3G or 3Gs phone, you now go into “Searching”. According to the statement, that means those calls on previous version iPhones were a figment of your imagination.
    This is Apple trying to blow sunshine up your butt because they spent way too much money on a phone that obviously has a few flaws.

  5. Steve says

    This is hardly scientific, but I went into 2 Apple Stores and checked 1 iPhone 4 randomly in each store. One iPhone immediately lost signal, the other was not phased by holding it in my left hand the same way.
    I hear this may be software, it may just be a bad batch of phones. Not everybody is experiencing this issue. I think Apple’s handling of this issue is doing more harm than the problem itself. They ought to offer replacement phones or free or discounted bumpers to units affected.

  6. rebel97 says

    I for one think it is a bad batch of Iphones, God only knows how many. My case and point. In my living room on my couch my old 3GS never ever got more than 2 bars and did sometimes drop calls. My new IPhone 4 with a case has 4 bars and hasn’t dropped a call yet. I’m not saying there isn’t an issue, all I’m saying is that for some reason it isn’t hitting everyone the same way.

  7. Stephanie Lambert says

    I am wondering if using a protective case reduces reception since it covers the strip on the back. I can work to adjust the grip, but will cases be modified with a cutout over the strip?

    • Hawk says

      What do you mean Stephanie? Why would they cut out a place in the case for the seam between the 2 antennas? The seam isn’t the problem, that’s just where the two antennas meet. However, if your skin is on that seam, it’s bridging the 2 different antennas together and that is causing SOME of the problems with the phones.
      When you bridge the antennas, the interference is strong enough to phaze out some or all of the 3G or Edge signal. That is the problem some people are having.

Leave a Reply