x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

New iPhone puts users on hold

Apple says software correction will be issued for misleading display of signal strength.

Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPhone during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
Steve Jobs demonstrates the new iPhone during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

It might be smart, but not that smart. The last thing the users of Apple's latest iPhone might expect are special instructions on how to hold it. But that is one explanation for why the signal strength with the iPhone 4 drops when it is gripped in a certain way.

Apple has admitted the problem is a software bug that it intends to fix. The company pinned the blame on the phone's internal software that displays and calculates how many bars of reception strength are available. The problem has reportedly been around since the original iPhone was introduced in 2007. "Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays two more bars than it should for a given signal strength," Apple said yesterday.

"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 four or five bars." The antenna inside the iPhone 4 is a feature that is relatively new to mobile devices. It covers the entire perimeter of the iPhone, a noted departure from other phone makers who place the antenna in places the user would not touch when making a call.

The new iPhone's antenna problem can be solved by placing an insulating cover around the antenna, but users have questioned why they should pay extra. Apple said that within weeks it will issue a software update that will report signal strength more accurately and in a way that is easier to see. The company has also begun to solicit resumes for antenna engineers to work on its iPhone. Despite the complaints, Apple says the iPhone 4 is its most successful phone launch ever, with sales of 1.7 million unit by June 26.

Etisalat and du have said they would begin offering the iPhone in September, but gadget geeks can already buy the device on the UAE grey market. Shops in Dubai and online retailers such as alshop.com have been selling the iPhone for about double what it costs in the US or UK. In the UK, the 16-gigabyte version costs £499 (Dh2,786) and the 32Gb version sells for £599. Some of the device's new features include a front-facing camera capable of making video calls, aluminium casing and a state-of-the-art, high-resolution screen.

Apple's shares fell 7 per cent last week to US$247 (Dh907.20) on Friday in New York, since users began complaining about the iPhone's signal strength. The shares are down 11 per cent since reaching an all-time high of $279.01 on June 21. dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae