In response to public backlash against the iPhone 4's myriad
, Apple issued an apology
complaints of poor reception. The iPhone 4 "has been judged by reviewers
around the world to be the best smartphone ever," began Apple, "so we were surprised when we read
reports of reception problems, and we immediately began investigating
them." After dispelling concerns about the "grip of death" that disrupts the phone's reception, Apple revealed their findings and solution:
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
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
Is the problem killing the iPhone 4's reputation really
rooted in a programming flaw? Tech writers are not only unconvinced, but also
irked by Apple's half-hearted and puzzling response.
- You Aren't Addressing The
Real Problem sighs Business Insider's Nick
Saint, decrying Apple's "crazy" open letter. "'Their big drop in
bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.'
Whoever crafted this train wreck of a sentence is probably going to lose
his or her job. Leave aside the fact that this isn't English. Granted
that signal strength is often being over reported, why does that
particular grip cause the reported signal strength to go down?" Despite
Apple's opaque apology, Saint is not writing the iPhone off just yet.
"We aren't judging before all the facts are in. But Apple isn't helping
us out either"
Inadequate Response Computer World blogger Mitch Wagner,
declaring Apple's response "the kind of non-apology apology that
politicians give out when they're caught making outrageously offensive
comments about a major ethnic group."
- Not Enough Information
Ars Technica's Jacqui
Cheng is put off by the lack of information shared with iPhone
users. "Apple's statement doesn't address the very real issue of
handsets losing up to 24dB of signal strength from simple bridging two
of the phone's antennas—which is either a serious hardware flaw or
another error in how the phone detunes its antennas." While Apple's
letter promises a quick fix, it isn't enough to allay Cheng's concerns.
"Apple didn't give enough information to really know what's going on,
but we cautiously await this software update that will claim to fix
- I'm Still Confused writes Harry
McCracken at Technologizer. "But unless a lot of smart people are
suffering from mass hallucination, I don’t see how the software glitch
Apple detected (completely) explains what’s going on here. And Apple,
being full of smart people itself, understands that. Right?"
Missed the Mark The Next Web's Jacob
Friedman scoffs at Apple's "hard right turn into fantasy land."
While the programming problem may be a contributing factor to the
iPhone's reception issues, it certainly does not tell the whole story.
"The biggest problem with this explanation is that it doesn’t even begin
to explain why holding the phone with your left hand causes dropped
calls," writes Friedman. "A more accurate reckoning of how many bars you
actually have is great (unless you’re AT&T, at which point your
customers will realize how bad your network actually is). However, even
if callers only actually have three bars when it looks like they have
five, this doesn’t explain why those three bars disappear when you touch
- What They Really Mean Is... John
Gruber provides a blistering "translation" Apple's apology letter at
"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."
We cannot believe we had to write this
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