Opinion Brief

Apple's 'suspicious' iPhone 4 fix

Apple says it was "stunned" to find that its phones have incorrectly displayed signal strength for years. Some commentators have their doubts

In an official apology to customers, Apple says it will soon offer a software update to correct the "simple and surprising" reception problems with the iPhone 4. Soon after the cell phone's June 24 release, a wave of users reported a weakened signal strength when they touched the bottom left corner of the device, interfering with the phone's antennas. Apple, however, says the "big drop in [signal strength] bars" reflects the fact that the "high bars were never real in the first place" — a problem present in every iPhone since the original. Is there any reason to doubt the company's explanation?

Why did it take so long to notice this? This is a "complicated" issue, says Jacqui Cheng in Ars Technica, because "there is no industry standard for how signal translates into the bar display." Manufacturers are simply forced "make up their own scale." Apple, however, seems to have miscalculated. My question is — "why has this problem in bar calculation only come up now"? "Apple says iPhone 4 algorithm is to blame, not antenna"

New reason to be suspicious of Apple: It's only come up now, says Jay Yarow in Business Insider, because Apple "lied about signal strength," and only just got caught. By issuing this "wild and slightly suspicious admission," Apple has raised more questions about its products than it's answered. Maybe "AT&T isn't as bad as everyone says," and Apple is just "not good at making phones"? "Apple: We always lied about signal strength"

Jobs & Co. aren't owning up to the scope of the problem: Actually, the "odd way Apple calculates bars has been noted before" — and is entirely beside the point, says Thomas Ricker in Engadget. It is "troubling," however, that Apple has once again "blamed signal strength/reception issues on software," while sidestepping the iPhone 4's obvious "flaw" in antenna design. Sorry Apple, you're going to have to do better."Apple: iPhone 4 reception problem is a software issue, fix coming in 'a few weeks'"

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