Saturday, July 3, 2010

Letter From Apple: iPhone's Signal Strength Algorithm Is Flawed.

Yesterday Apple published an open letter regarding the problems that are affecting iPhone 4 and the supposed flaw in the antenna design. Just to quote the “interesting” part of it (trimming down iPhone eulogies and Apple’s declarations of love toward its newly born child):

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.

Totally wrong”. I wonder what does that mean.

Anyway, Since I own an iPhone I always complained about dropped calls and pretty inaccurate signal strength estimations shown by the phone. Either I had at least 4 bars or I had none. Even at maximum strength, the phone was dropping some calls. Simple cross checks with other phones I own (connected to the same operator) made me suspect that the iPhone was making way too optimistic signal strength estimations.

I’m glad to hear that they finally found the “solution” to this problem although I believe that such a flaw shouldn't have been discovered years after the first iPhone release. Too few of us were complaining? Many of us were blinded by the supposedly Apple’s infallibility? Apple wasn’t listening?

I don’t know. After the next software update, although signal won’t improve, at least the iPhone won’t be lying to us any longer.

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