One of the more frustrating aspects of Apple’s official response to the iPhone 4 reception issue is that the solution they are adopting isn’t just a non-fix, but it’s transparently just an optical illusion.
The iPhone 4 death grip is very real, but it only exhibits itself in middling reception areas. Why? Because Apple symbolizes 40% of the signal in the fifth bar of reception. If you have five bars of reception, you won’t notice a Death Grip drop, but if you have four bars or less, you’ll see numerous bars instantly drop off your iPhone if you touch it wrong.
Apple chose to capture 40% of the iPhone’s signal in the fifth bar to give the superficial appearance of excellent reception even when the cellular signal was as low as 60%. Their fix to the iPhone 4 death grip, then, is to more accurately correspond the actual cellular signal to signal bars, so the reception drop doesn’t appear to be so profound. This will make the “Death Grip” drop in reception look less serious, but on the other hand, it’ll make iPhone reception look worse across all devices. If you were used to getting a stead five bars of reception on your iPhones in the past, the update might drop it down to four or even three bars.
To pre-emptively counter complaints of signal degradation from customers, Apple’s slyly decided to make the first three bars of signal look bigger. That’s the optical illusion: they are hoping that by making the first three signal bars look larger and more tangible will stop people from complaining (or, worse, filing class-action lawsuits) about the just-as-imaginary reception degradation.
The bottom line: the forthcoming software update for the iPhone 4’s Antenna Problems will not fix anything, it’ll just make it less superficially noticeable. And now, even Apple is admitting it, specifically telling customers that the software update won’t fix the “Death Grip,” and the only solution is to either hold the phone differently or buy a case.
Come on, Apple. This is nuts. If you’re going to rely on a software update stage trick to fool customers into thinking everything’s okay, you can’t also cop to it all being an illusion through your official Customer Support organ. It’s time to just start bundling bumpers with the iPhone 4 and be done with it.