The verdict: a more accurate signal display, but no change on the underlying antenna issue
The folks at Anandtech who did the original analysis of the iPhone signal attenuation problem have tested the latest iPhone software updates, both iOS 4.1 beta and the official version iOS 4.0.1 that Apple (AAPL) released on Thursday.
Their verdict: Apple, for what it's worth, did what it promised it would do -- it made the bars more accurate.
"The results are conclusive," wrote Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi. "Apple has dramatically changed the signal strength to signal bar mapping in iOS 4.0.1 and the iOS 4.1 beta, making the dynamic range not only much broader, but the range values for each bar much wider. The range of signals that correspond to bars three and four are the same width, and bar two is only slightly less...
"While the software update obviously does not and cannot address the design of the antenna itself -- or make the drop from holding the phone any less -- it does change the way the issue is perceived among users." (link)
The chart at right shows the changes in height and dBM ranges of the iPhone's signal bars. But the total effect can be seen more clearly in the two charts posted below the fold. One compares the dBM mapping of iOS 4.0 with beta iOS 4.1, the second compares Apple's two versions with Android's bar mapping scheme.
Confused by Apple's official explanation? Let an expert draw you a picture
Mobile networking specialist Richard Gaywood, who spotted the iPhone 4's lopsided signal-mapping formula even before Apple (AAPL) owned up to it Friday, has used data from Anandtech's similar analysis to diagram the problem. Here's his explanation -- and his diagram:
"The mapping of signal strength to reported 'bars' on the iPhone's display is oddly out of whack, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 2, 2010 3:14 PM ET
Pretty bad, say engineers who have measured the effect of the "death grip." But it's not fatal.
It's been nearly a week since Steve Jobs famously told a new iPhone owner with reception issues to "stay tuned," but Apple (AAPL) still hasn't solved the new device's Death Grip problem -- its tendency to lose signal strength rapidly when gripped across the gap on the left-hand corner where its two external MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jun 30, 2010 2:23 PM ET
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