Mobile // Mobile Devices
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7/7/2010
04:06 PM
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iPhone 4 Users Petition For Antenna Fix

Apple customers say company's response to signal quality issues does not go far enough.

Apple customers dissatisfied with the company's response to a glitch that renders the device's antenna nearly inoperable are petitioning the company to either fix the problem or hand out free rubber "bumpers" that mitigate its effects.




Image Gallery: Apple iPhone 4, A True Teardown
(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)

"A free case is definitely the solution to this," wrote Richard Kirk, who is among dozens of iPhone 4 users to have signed the petition, which was launched last week by tech blog Gizmodo.

"Don't get me wrong i'm a huge apple fan, and I think Steve Jobs is a brilliant man. But, I also think it was in poor taste to publicly state that everyone is holding their phones wrong! It needs to be fixed," wrote another user, "sjud9227."

Many iPhone 4 buyers have reported that the device's signal drops dramatically if its bottom left corner is covered by the palm of the user's hand—a situation common when it's wielded by lefties. Reports have suggested the problem arises because grasping the phone in such a manner covers a particularly sensitive part of the antenna.

Apple and third-parties offer rubber bumpers that insulate the antenna from human contact, but so far the company has refused to offer the add-on—which can range in price from $10 to $50—for free. Rather, Apple on Friday insisted that iPhone 4's antenna is not defective, and blamed a software bug for displaying inaccurate signal bars.

"Upon investigation, we were stunned to learn that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong," Apple said in a statement. "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," the company said.

Apple said it plans to remedy the situation through a patch that adds an AT&T-recommended formula for checking signal strength. "The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone's bars will report it far more accurately," Apple said.

Apple said the patch will be available as a free software update "within a few weeks." The update will work on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G. iPhone 4 went on sale last month. The 16GB version is priced at $199, while its 32GB cousin goes for $299. A two-year AT&T contract is required.

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