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  • Apple: No Death Grip, Bars Displayed Wrong


    Apple is finally acknowledging the Death Grip, but saying it's - in effect - an optical illusion: a bug in how the software displays signal-strength bars on the screen. In a "Letter From Apple" posted on their website this morning, the manufacturer claims that the iPhone 4 "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should" and that people who see drops of 4 or more bars must just be in a weak signal area. Though Apple says a software fix will be forthcoming in "a few weeks," it will only incorporate a formula recommended by AT&T for calculating bars while "[t]he real signal strength remains the same."

    After a week during which Apple steadfastly denied the very existence of the so-called Death Grip, today's "Letter" is the first admission from the company that "iPhone 4 can drop 4 or 5 bars when tightly held in a way which covers the black strip in the lower left corner of the metal band." The letter goes on to say that "[a]t the same time, we continue to read articles and receive hundreds of emails from users saying that iPhone 4 reception is better than the iPhone 3GS" (as if this is somehow in contradiction to the prior statement), and asks rhetorically "What can explain all of this?" The answer, Apple says, is software, claiming that they were "stunned" to find that the formula that calculates bars is "totally wrong," that it causes the iPhone 4 to "display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars," and concludes that people who report reception problems "most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don't know it… their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place."

    This response stinks in a number of ways. In the first place, the so-called "formula" is no more than a mapping of signal strength readings to bars. Anandtech noticed in their testing earlier this week that the fifth bar has an absurdly broad range, from -91 dBm up to -51 dBm, so that you can lose as much as 40 dBm and still show five bars. So that may be the "formula" they are talking about changing, but what about people (including this writer) who have noticed real loss of sound quality and dropped calls due to the Death Grip? What about Anandtech's testing showing an average 20 dBm drop in signal? Apple is silent on these points.

    Perhaps they are hoping the complaints go away when people see more bars (and bigger ones - the first three will apparently be taller) on their screen. Or perhaps there's another fix in this software rev that they're not talking about. After all, why should it take "a few weeks" to implement and test a change to one formula? There seems to be a lot we're not being told here, but we'll most likely have to wait for the update to find out what.

    Thanks to everyone who sent this in.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple: No Death Grip, Bars Displayed Wrong started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 229 Comments
    1. radioboy's Avatar
      radioboy -
      The iPhone has been out for 3 years, not 10.
    1. jdm.accord's Avatar
      jdm.accord -
      Quote Originally Posted by mikerlx View Post
      So, this software update will probably re-lock the phones hopefully it will not take 4-5 months for an unlock.
      There is no unlock for the iPhone 4 yet. And if you're running a 3GS, this doesn't affect you the same way it does those of us with the iPhone 4 so you really don't need to do the update.
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by maxgsteinberg View Post
      Now idk when the first iPhone came out maybe like 2000 or w.e but that means that a huge company like apple has had this "mistake" for the past 10 years and have JUST NOW realized it?
      Um the iPhone has been out for literally 3 years only.
    1. ggab's Avatar
      ggab -
      Quote Originally Posted by redhouse101 View Post
      they'll fix the antenna and then plug the hole for unlocking!
      Sounds like the same problem BP is dealing with.
    1. Cody Overcash's Avatar
      Cody Overcash -
      i call bs
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      Either its a complete cover up, or dropped calls aren't really ATT's fault and that you have bad reception
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Hrmm one year warranty. I guess that means Apple has "atleast" one year to fix the issue. Or everyone goes out and buys the AppleCare (giving more money to apple). Then Apple has atleast two years to fix this problem. Now by that time u have owned a $700 Iphone 4 that has been pretty much useless the entire time.

      Yep, i'd be bringing the ole ladies phone back if u didnt already sell it over on the bay.

      Apple has claimed from day one that there wasnt an issue "your just holding the phone wrong". Now they claim this has been in issue in every Iphone since the beginning. Oh and now they claim they can fix it.

      You know the ole saying that goes "One lie always leads to another lie". Sounds like Apple has taken that road.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by silent1643 View Post
      keep in mind this fix will not fix the reception issue - the bars will still drop dramatically when held a certain way... if your thinking about returning it, then i would do it before the 30 days is up
      just my .02
      I am saying that if this is definitely a hardware issue, they will probably end up replacing the phone for you as well. A huge problem like this has to be confirmed 1000 times over before replacing peoples phones...
    1. michaelgazin's Avatar
      michaelgazin -
      check this out - the bars are just displaying wrong because of the formula.

      [ame=http://vimeo.com/12864890]The Spot on Vimeo[/ame]
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mikerlx View Post
      So, this software update will probably re-lock the phones hopefully it will not take 4-5 months for an unlock.

      Didn't know the iPhone 4 had an unlock yet... The 3GS does for ios4 but not the iPhone 4 on IOS4.
    1. jdm.accord's Avatar
      jdm.accord -
      Quote Originally Posted by l0k0 View Post
      Hrmm one year warranty. I guess that means Apple has "atleast" one year to fix the issue. Or everyone goes out and buys the AppleCare (giving more money to apple). Then Apple has atleast two years to fix this problem. Now by that time u have owned a $700 Iphone 4 that has been pretty much useless the entire time.

      Yep, i'd be bringing the ole ladies phone back if u didnt already sell it over on the bay.

      Apple has claimed from day one that there wasnt an issue "your just holding the phone wrong". Now they claim this has been in issue in every Iphone since the beginning. Oh and now they claim they can fix it.

      You know the ole saying that goes "One lie always leads to another lie". Sounds like Apple has taken that road.
      you guys are missing the point of the 30-day return policy. You can return your phone for any reason within 30 days. The one-year warranty only applies if the phone has an issue. Apple is refusing to acknowledge the phone has an issue.

      If you take it in to Apple in 3 months claiming you get bad reception, they'll tell you to kick rocks. They'll blame it on how you hold the phone or AT&T's coverage. Like someone said before, if this reception issue is a real problem for you, you need to return the phone within 30 days. Because after 30 days, you're SOL as far as reception issues go.
    1. dcgore's Avatar
      dcgore -
      Good thing i didn't just buy a bumper simply because of the "signal drop."
    1. bzpilot's Avatar
      bzpilot -
      Quote Originally Posted by l0k0 View Post
      Hrmm one year warranty. I guess that means Apple has "atleast" one year to fix the issue....
      NO, not at all!!! They have admitted to a "formula issue, being fixed by upcoming software update". This by no means admits anything wrong with the phone itself which you could return it for!!!

      No admitted issue = No warranty service!!!
    1. igarys's Avatar
      igarys -
      Jobs gonna beg Gates to save his company from bankrupt once again...
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bzpilot View Post
      NO, not at all!!! They have admitted to a "formula issue, being fixed by upcoming software update". This by no means admits anything wrong with the phone itself which you could return it for!!!

      No admitted issue = No warranty service!!!
      So basically, IF u dont return ur phone within the 30days. Your SOL unless apple "admits" there is a hardware reception issue. And we all know Apple isnt gonna admit that.
    1. dcgore's Avatar
      dcgore -
      Honestly, i kinda knew it was the meter cuz i am able to send receive calls and texts when the bars are at their lowest.
    1. l0k0's Avatar
      l0k0 -
      Quote Originally Posted by dcgore View Post
      Honestly, i kinda knew it was the meter cuz i am able to send receive calls and texts when the bars are at their lowest.
      Let me guess, when the bars drop off and its says "No Service". In reality by Apples claims. You should still have atleast 2 bars left in signal (because the phone is lying to you). Maybe u can send and receive text/calls then, LMAO
    1. Chityuulay's Avatar
      Chityuulay -
      damn apple is good! even with flaws they can sell millions of iphone 4. who da sucker? now is time for them to sell AT$T signal detector device along with iphone 4.
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      From PC world---


      Last week, PC World editor Mark Sullivan tested the iPhone 4 around San Francisco and found dramatic speed drops in four out of five locations. Latency shot upward by thousands of milliseconds in a few locations, and both download and upload speeds were affected. Gizmodo reader Chris Sheehan .


      Richard Gaywood, who has a Ph.D. in wireless networking, also tested data speeds. In an area with strong signal strength, Gaywood found no problems, but in an area with a weak signal, average throughput dropped down to nearly nothing when he gripped the phone with a bare hand.

      In fairness, none of these tests included other phones for comparison, and signal loss has been reported in other phones including Google's Nexus One. But a thorough test by Anandtech, which measured actual signal strength instead of bars, found that the iPhone 4's signal dropped far more than the Nexus One and the iPhone 3GS when gripped in a bare hand.

      Full article--http://www.pcworld.com/article/200355/apple_on_iphone_4_antenna_its_the_bars_silly.html
    1. CZroe's Avatar
      CZroe -
      Quote Originally Posted by tremerone View Post
      I read these replies and the letter from Apple...laughed...very hard...pee'd a little.
      ...I'm still running the 3GS...I switched carriers, thus needing the unlock...I never had any issues with reception on my phone until I switched carrier and did the unlock. So I've never really been sure if it is my carrier to blame, the unlock, or a combo of the two (I'm not whining, god bless you Dev-Team, keep up the stellar work!!!). So knowing the unlock situation with the iPhone 4....I would guess the problem lay with the phone itself or the carrier! I know there is studies showing the issues with the reception for the iPhone 4, but don't just look at what's on the display (signal bars)...see if it drops your calls. I have had more dropped calls then ever before....but again..could be unlock, could be carrier. Very interesting enough...I can have NO bars...and still send a text message and place a call!
      I've actually been on a call with the Airplane Mode indicator still visible in my status bar.