Image Source: intomobile Today Apple have issued a letter to iPhone 4 users where they finally address the infamous iPhone 4 reception issue and acknowledge the problem.  That ‘s a good step.  But they are classifying the problem as entirely a software issue, with signal strength being displayed inaccurately. Here ‘s Apple ‘s verdict on […]
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Apple Admits iPhone 4 Reception Problems, Promises Software Fix

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Image Source: intomobile

Today Apple have issued a letter to iPhone 4 users where they finally address the infamous iPhone 4 reception issue and acknowledge the problem.  That ‘s a good step. 

But they are classifying the problem as entirely a software issue, with signal strength being displayed inaccurately.

Here ‘s Apple ‘s verdict on where the problems lie:

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.

And their plans for a software-based fix in a free update

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.

A few things stand out about Apple ‘s response today.  First and foremost is that it still seems as if they may be underestimating or intentionally underplaying the nature and severity of the issue.  It seems to me that there is some compelling video and first-hand evidence “ from at least a percentage of iPhone 4 users “ that there is more than just a signal strength display problem.  That calls are actually dropping and failing. 

The overall tone of their letter to users is not apologetic either.  It starts out by boasting about how this is their most successful product launch ever and talking about how all mobile phones have reception issues.  Near the end it reminds users that they are welcome to return their iPhone 4 within 30 days of purchase. The words of support in this letter don ‘t seem to carry anywhere near the conviction and strength that their marketing releases carry when telling us how wonderful the new iPhone is.

Here are some reactions to Apple ‘s letter that I ‘ve found interesting today:

Robert Scoble on Twitter

ScobleReaction

John Gruber ‘s ‘Translation From Apple ‘s Unique Dialect of PR-Speak to English of the ‘Letter From Apple Regarding iPhone 4 ‘ 

*** There ‘s some NSFW language in Gruber ‘s post “ it is very funny and well worth a read though.

I think Kevin Tofel at jkOnTheRun has a very good take on it:

We ‘ll have to see what happens when the software update arrives ” the iPhone 3G and 3GS will get the fix too ” but my take: if you hold iPhone 4 in your left hand now have a problem with the signal today, you ‘ll still have it after the update. Unless you spend $29 on a stunning bumper, that is.

I realize that this issue is not affecting all users of the iPhone 4, and perhaps not even a huge percentage of users, and that even those who do see the issue may see it with less severity.  I can see the decreasing bars on my iPhone 4 for instance, but have not had a single dropped or failed call in over a week of iPhone 4 usage.  I also understand that many reviewers and users are finding that this is the best iPhone yet in terms of reception and performance as a phone. 

Even so, even if just a small percentage of users are affected severely by this, I still feel like Apple ‘s approach needs a lot of work.  As I said a couple days ago, now would be a great time for a hell of a lot more humility and support on their part.  Thus far, they do not seem to be living up to their reputation for great customer service, not by a long stretch.

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