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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. barsoverbeats's Avatar
      barsoverbeats -
      A few weeks.... I create complete themes in a few weeks. I wonder what else this update will contain? Hopefully a more sensitive proximity sensor, and a faster frequency exchange rate
    1. laxmaster232's Avatar
      laxmaster232 -
      Suuuree, that's why we are getting dropped calls right? 10 bucks theres gunna be a new problem of getting 2 bars in a usual 5 zone because of there new "formula"
    1. yahoowizard's Avatar
      yahoowizard -
      Hm. If this doesn't work, I'm not sure how much trust Apple will get after it. Then again, the guy in the famous iPhone gripping video got the bars to disappear to "No Service", so I'm not sure how making the bars bigger will do anything. I think the only thing to result from this is that it's going to show more bars when there's less service, or less bars when there's actually a lot, so gripping will start to increase the service of the phone =D.

      EDIT: Actually, then again, they're fully acknowledging that the bars do drop if you grip it, even normally. They just try to make it appear normal by saying every phone does it, but gripping my iPhone 2G with both hands has no effect whatsoever. Wish I had more phones to test though.
    1. nikozen's Avatar
      nikozen -
      If it's just as simple as adjusting the range of each bar why should that take "a few weeks" to release? That is going to be well after our 30 day return window is up. Those of us that are having problems won't even get a chance to test if the "fix" actually works.
    1. rkswat's Avatar
      rkswat -
      Quote Originally Posted by laxmaster232 View Post
      Suuuree, that's why we are getting dropped calls right? 10 bucks theres gunna be a new problem of getting 2 bars in a usual 5 zone because of there new "formula"
      Who is this we you speak of? I have had NO dropped call or reception issues.
    1. AlexCrammer's Avatar
      AlexCrammer -
      Hahaha ! Thanks for giving me an lol for the day D
    1. Dayvidpriddy's Avatar
      Dayvidpriddy -
      They apologize for any anxiety they have caused? ROFL!!! So let me get this straight Apple (more then likely Steve Jobs)...you are telling me that my phone is displaying more bars then it should (if it displays them at all?) I live in DC and am in the highest signal area possible with AT&T (brightest orange and blue possible for coverage) so you are saying not only should I see less bars on my phone but once you fix the bar issue the chances of me ever seeing a bar again simply doesn't exist? And I'm in the highest coverage area possible? OK...yea right!

    1. lazypineapple's Avatar
      lazypineapple -
      Not feeling much love for Apple.or the new Iphone.
    1. Cowboy's Avatar
      Cowboy -
      Apples fix for the crappy antenna is to make a software update to falsify your signal strength is an awesome move don't u think! Lol stupid apple where'd my free rubber band
    1. Dayvidpriddy's Avatar
      Dayvidpriddy -
      Quote Originally Posted by nikozen View Post
      If it's just as simple as adjusting the range of each bar why should that take "a few weeks" to release? That is going to be well after our 30 day return window is up. Those of us that are having problems won't even get a chance to test if the "fix" actually works.
      I wouldn't fret it man, if the phone is defective after 30 days it's defective, AT&T can't hold you to a contract where the product doesn't work. Trust me, don't give it another thought!
    1. Engrisch's Avatar
      Engrisch -
      Here comes the 5 bar fox people were talking about. But I could be wrong.
    1. viettho's Avatar
      viettho -
      lol, apple is trying to blame this on AT&T. Your phone will have less bar than it should after the fix. They don't admit that this is hardware design flaw.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      No dropped calls for me so far, only lower bars when holding it. It's kind of strange that software would cause this though.

      I guess 4.0.1 is coming sooner than expected...
    1. InDashMP3's Avatar
      InDashMP3 -
      I am wondering what we can do regarding the 30 day return policy? Unfortunately, the "fix" will come after many of our return policy grace period. My hope is that there is actually something "else" in the fix other than a formula correction, that will help with the documented signal loss per Anandtech's article. Apple should extend the return policy to 60 days, to allow all of those experiencing a problem an opportunity to test the new fix before being locked to that device. Sure, we can return them now...wait, and see if users report postively, and buy again, but what a pain in the *****...
    1. iphone925's Avatar
      iphone925 -
      =)) HAHAHAAH FORMULA =)) FOR WHAT ? Displaying False Signal Strength HAHAHAHAH Where is that Class Action law suit I hope they include this too in that so judge can see what Mr Lame Jobs is up to ) and also include that proximity issue in that class action law suit F*$^!^ YOU APPLE
    1. joeynice's Avatar
      joeynice -
      From what I have experienced, I can kinda believe this. At home I have had 1 or 2 bars on all my iPhones, and I can make them drop to 1 (or worse) pretty easy. At work my phone is at 4 or 5 normally, but I can get it to drop to 1 or 2 by gripping it in my right hand. I just got a (free) 3G MicroCell for my house and now my phone shows 5 bars with NO change in signal while gripping the phone. So maybe my service WAS never as good as I was led to believe it was? Would this also explain why some people say they have not had signal issues?
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      brb buys gonna go get 7 bars of reception on my iphone
    1. jdm.accord's Avatar
      jdm.accord -
      Apple is dead-on with this when it comes to my phone. I have always gotten horrible reception in my house with my 3G/3GS (1 or 2 bars tops) but my iPhone 4 got 5 bars in my house......until I hold it. Then it drops down to 1-2 bars.

      But outside my house, I can't death-grip it at all. It refuses to drop bars when I'm outside. This goes along perfectly with what Apple says as well as that study the dutch group did on signal strength a few days ago.
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      This makes sense... My 3gs is showing 2 bars right now in edge and my i4 is showing 4 on 3g. All along I thought ATT boosted their signal... This would also explain why I have no death grip in town where I traditionally get full sig on 3g. I am sure its more than that in the soft fix. but like I posted before... Apple changed their refresh and search rate for carrier signal. Perhaps this contributes to the issue. ATT needs to do the rig thing and boost their signal. Oh and update their coverage map o reflect proper service areas...

      Apple Plans Update for iPhone 4 Glitch - WSJ.com

      I bet ATT is like... DAMN...Well the blame on Apple didn't last long enough for us to update our cell towers... Get ready employees the irate customers are going to start lining up again.... LMAO>>>
    1. Dayvidpriddy's Avatar
      Dayvidpriddy -
      I was going to check out one of the microcell towers...do they connect to your network wirelessly? If it has to be hard wired forget it, I already have Ooma hardwired between my modem and router...unless it plugs directly into one of the ports I wouldn't do it (unless of course it's wireless.)