What can we say, the iPhone 4 is a flawed device. Whatever your arguments are, a smartphone that can’t make a phone call, is not really a phone at all. And no, a software patch is not going to fix the problem, it’s just going to hide it.
Check out the video after the jump and do let us know if you’re still interested in the iPhone 4.
Seriously guys, we want to know and we want to know why.
But if there is no design issue at work here, why did Anandtech and I both show significantly different attenuation when holding an iPhone 4 in a bare hand compared to holding it in a case? And why did Apple themselves recommend “using a case” as a possible solution to the problem? — Richard Gaywood, PhD on wireless network design from Cardiff University
The issue here is hardware, the antenna design is flawed. Despite technical data proving that the antenna on the iPhone 4 is better than its predecessor, its external design means it is more susceptible to attenuation than previous iPhones.
In our own observations, we stated that the only way to fix the attenuation issue on the iPhone 4 is to insulate the external antenna, and it seems at the moment that the official iPhone casing – the Bumper – is a perfect solution. Reviewers with even more technical knowledge and equipment have come to the same conclusion.
Apple has issued an open letter to explain the reception degradation problem on the iPhone 4. But before they get to that, Apple is quick to point out that “Droid, Nokia and RIM phones” exhibit the same tendency to drop signals in a very much the same way the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 does.
From Apple’s point of view, the cause of the dramatic drop in signal performance is “both simple and surprising.” Apple claims that right now the software that determines how many signal bars are displayed on the iPhone is indicating an overly optimistic figure.
Essentially when the iPhone is showing 5 bars you are realistically getting only 2 or 3 bars. As a result, Apple will be releasing an update to fix this over-reading issue so that all iPhones will display a more accurate signal reception reading. On top of that, Apple will also make signal bars 1, 2 and 3 taller so that it is easier to see.
In the letter Apple says that the over-reading problem “…has been present since the original iPhone…” and the software fix will be available for all iPhones. At the same time Apple is accepting returns of undamaged iPhone 4 for a full refund if returned in 30 days from purchase.