iOS 4 reception issue looking more and more like a software bug

Invisible Shield for Apple iPhone 4!“Evidence continues to mount that suggests the problem is purely the result of a bug in the current build of iOS 4,” Michael Bettiol reports for The Boy Genius Report.

“As proof, a YouTube user has posted a video of his iPhone 3G, held in a similar fashion as the iPhone 4s in the YouTube videos we showed you yesterday, losing signal strength as soon as it is clutched,” Bettiol reports.

“As this did not happen with iOS 3.0, this suggests a software bug which affects the signal meter the user sees,” Bettiol reports.

Bettiol reports, “Even more interesting is the fact that despite displaying a weak signal — and in some cases no signal at all — many users report that the iPhone 4 is still able to make calls as if nothing were wrong.”

Full article, with the video, here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we reported earlier today, “We can reproduce the issue of diminishing or disappearing AT&T bars on our units by blocking the lower left corner completely with our hands on iPhone 4 units without cases, but do not believe it to be a hardware issue. In fact, with 3+ bars, we don’t notice any loss of reception, even if we make the bars go away. According to a trusted source, there are multiple points on the iPhone 4’s frame for antenna reception. Our source says that the issues “can and will” be addressed by tweaking, balancing, and/or redistributing antennae reception and/or signal strength display via software. When asked if it could be a hardware issue, our source said, ‘Don’t be silly. It’s not the hardware. Apple’s too smart for that. In fact, most any handset maker is too smart for that.”‘

[UPDATE: 11:24pm EDT: Apple has issued a statement: Apple responds to iPhone 4 reception attenuation issue: ‘A fact of life for every wireless phone’]

38 Comments

  1. I’m going to count this as “wishfull thinking” until I see an explanation for this video, which shows a call in progress being dropped when the iPhone 4 is held a certain way:

    Assuming this video isn’t faked, this would clearly point to something more serious than a spurious signal strength indicator.

    Sorry to be a skeptic, but….

  2. Yes, but these are CRAPPLEfanboy drones. They wouldn’t, nay, COULDN’T ever consider returning something as magical as an iPhONe!
    They simply wait for their demigod, iSteve, to tell them it’s okay, then chant under their breath, “It’s a feature! IT’S A FEATURE!!”

    From now on bing and decide. http://www.bing.com

  3. Somebody explain this to me. Either the phone gets reception or not. So if there is reception how would the screen graphic be wrong?

    did none of the field testers ever hold the phone in that position?

    If its a software fix, why did apple not fix it first?

  4. @ Hello

    > How can you compare a 3G to a 4? It’s not the same hardware.

    That’s the point exactly. If the same problem occurs on two different pieces of hardware running iOS 4 and the problem did not occur on the older one when it previously ran iPhone OS 3.x, then it is very likely that it is the same software issue affecting both versions of the iPhone.

    Still, Apple should not have let such a problem slip by their final testing.

  5. This is not because of some electrical conductivity between the two antennae components. My phone drops from 5 bars to searching within 1 minute when held with my hand on the left side. I wore a surgical glove on my left hand and held the phone with the same problem. You can place an electrical conductor like a copper wire between the two segments on the left (ie to short circuit – copper is a much better conductor than your hand) and this doesn’t cause the problem. So it has something to do with your hand on the lower left side blocking the signal. As a result, I don’t think it will be fixed with the rubber bumper. Hopefully fixed with software.

  6. I LOVE my iPhone 4! I’d better love it, I waited in a stupid line this morning for 3 1/2 hours.

    The first thing I did with my phone was test this “diminishing bars” problem. No matter how I hold my phone the bars never diminish. However, I saw someone post a comment (I think it was at AppleInsider.com) about how to see the difference in reception.

    1) install the speedtest app (it’s free)
    2) disable wifi, so you are on 3G only
    3) sit the phone on a table or desk (don’t touch the sides)
    4) do a speedtest and notice your ping rate and download rate
    5) do the same test, holding it so your hand spans the two antennas on the bottom right corner. This is how I normally hold the phone in my left hand.

    My Results:
    Not holding the phone
    Ping: 408 ms
    Download: 3125 kbps

    Holding in my left hand
    Ping: 2110 ms
    Download: 964 kbps

    Try it and see. I’m not sure what Apple will do about this problem. I didn’t want to get a bumper because I love how it looks without, but maybe I’ll get one just to mitigate this issue.

  7. @ PhxDoc

    Interesting experiment.

    Just curious – does the touch-screen on the iPhone respond when you touch it while wearing the surgical glove? If it does, then it might not necessarily rule-out the capacitance theory….

  8. Its not just a software problem, how could that affect touching the phone?

    Take a look at the YouTube video I shot and see what happens when you touch the lower corner of the iPhone 4.

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