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7/15/2010
04:30 PM
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Fix iPhone 'Death Grip' For Free, Urges Senator

Apple is expected to address iPhone 4 reception issues at a news conference on Friday.

The public flogging of Apple over the iPhone 4's reception problems reached a fever pitch on Thursday, a day before the company plans to publicly address the issue at a news conference.

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs stating that the company's efforts to respond to the iPhone's troubles have fallen short.

"The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called 'death grip' malfunction -- such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it -- seem to be insufficient," he wrote. "These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones."

The iPhone 4, released last month, has elicited a large number of complaints from users who claim that the device gets poor reception when held in a particular way.

Consumer Reports has characterized the issue as a flaw in the design of the iPhone 4's antenna.

In early July, Apple published a letter about the iPhone 4 problems, claiming that the reception just appears to be poor. The problem, the company said, was a bad signal strength display algorithm.

"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," Apple said. "Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place."

A report published on Thursday by Bloomberg suggests that the reception issues are more than a matter of appearance.

Citing an anonymous source, Bloomberg said that last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer at Apple with expertise in antenna design, warned Jobs that the iPhone 4's design could hinder reception. The report also claimed that a carrier partner expressed similar concerns prior to the iPhone 4 launch last month.

Apple has tried to address the discrepancy between actual and displayed reception in iOS 4.1, an update of the iPhone's operating system released on Thursday. But the company is likely to take further steps, which should be made clear on Friday.

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