Apple accepts iPhone reception issue and working on Software fix

on July 3, 2010 | iPhone | Comments (0)

Apple has now accepted the iPhone 4 antenna reception issue and is working on a software fix to try and rectify the situation.

However the fix is not exactly concrete. Apple claim that the phones are displaying a faulty reception reading, ie the number of reception bars displayed is actually too much.

If your iPhone 4 displays 4 bars, it should only really be displaying around 2 bars.

The software fix is to correct the faulty reception reading – that’s it. The fix does not actually reduce the number of drop outs or low reception problems already reported.

Apple has released the following statement to iPhone 4 customers:

‘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.


Apple goes on to claim that this faulty reception/ signal reading also affects iPhone 3G and 3GS users. I am using a 3GS and have never really experienced any issues like iPhone 4 users are reporting. In saying that the original iPhones clearly did not have as good reception as Nokia or BlackBerry smartphones – with the iPhone having the occasional dropout, but this could be partly linked down to your carrier.

Regardless to say a more accurate representation of the actual signal strength would be welcomed by all. Apple recently posted 3 jobs on their careers portal for Antenna engineers and specialist to join the company – clearly showing they need to pick up their game in this department (goto

Whilst the iPhone 4 has been a hot selling product for Apple, one must question if it could have been even more successful without the issues experienced. It will be interesting to see the reception in Australia later in the month when the iPhone 4 is official released here.

With the iPad we had people sleeping overnight outside Apple’s George Street store to be the first to get their hands on the iPad. Will we see the same for the iPhone 4?

Not many consumer products can boast such dedicated fans willing to hand over their cash so quickly. I’m trying to think of other products that people que hours on end for? Bon Jovi tickets? Twilight movie tickets? that doesn’t really count.

Anyway, it does seem these antenna/reception problems have rattled investor confidence as Apple’s share price has gone down over the past week as more and more customers complain.


There are already a string of people looking to take legal action against Apple for producing a device with ‘considerable defect’ amongst other issues.

David : Editor and Founder of I also run a Social Media Agency where I do consulting work and Social Media Management. Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook or contact me here. Alternatively, you can send me an email at