It is just as we expected: there is no way a hardware design flaw can be magically fixed with a software update. In fact, Apple has announced that the only signal-related issue which the update will address is to make the reception bars accurately reflect the signal strength the phone is receiving.
Read on to find out more.
For those who are hoping that the upcoming iOS software update will automagically fix the issue of the iPhone 4 dropping connections due to weak signal strengths, be prepared for some rather discouraging news: the update will do nothing to address the problem, simply because it is simply not possible for a software-based patch to correct a hardware design flaw.
According to Gizmodo, the update from Apple merely resolves the issue of iOS overstating the phone’s signal reception, which was apparently the cause of most complaints about the phone dropping calls and connections even when the signal bars were fully lit up. This is also confirmed by Apple, which states that the software update will not fix the signal interference problem, but only the cosmetic issue of the iOS displaying much higher strengths in low-signal situations.
In fact, Apple themselves admitted to being ‘stunned’ that the algorithm for calculating signal bars on the iOS was completely wrong. The following is an extract of Apple’s announcement as posted on Gizmodo’s site:
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.
Now, this would have been very believable if not for one glaring oversight: the iPhone 4’s OS is the exact same OS that powers most of Apple’s existing iPhones, including the iPhone 3G and 3GS. In other words, Apple had just informed the world that they had always overstated the signal strength received by their handsets. Why they would want to do that instead of following the established guidelines set in place for signal strength display is really anyone’s guess.
Putting that aside for the moment, Apple believes that rectifying the exaggerated signal strength display will be a major factor in preventing more dropped connections. Which is rather true to a certain extent: at the very least, users will no longer get misled into believing that a low-signal strength area is flooded with optimum signal receptivity.
But this still does not fix the iPhone 4’s widely reported design flaw in which holding the handset in the conventional way will cause a significant loss in signal strength. And asking people to adopt a different method of holding a phone does not sound like the kind of solution a user would expect to receive. Then again, at least Apple has a solution to work around the issue. Perhaps we should be grateful for that.