updated 11:45 am EDT, Fri July 16, 2010
iPhone 4 awaits today's expected remedy
The most advanced releases of iOS -- 4.0.1 and the 4.1 beta -- do indeed have better reporting of iPhone signal strength, tests are said to show. Anandtech notes that the dynamic range in the new firmware is better, and that the range assigned to each signal bar is generally wider. The main exception to this is the fifth bar, which in the v4.0 firmware occupied a disproportionate amount of the scale.
Even if signal drops by 24dBm, an iPhone should now only lose two bars of strength, not all of them. The single-bar level has been extended down to -121dBm instead of -113, reflecting the iPhone 4's increased sensitivity and ability to maintain a weak connection. The result is ultimately thought to be "more honest" with regards to AT&T's coverage, even if the newly longer bar graphics may give some people a false sense of security. Others could theoretically assume their phone performance is worse and become angry with AT&T, the study suggests.
In any case the new firmware is said to do nothing for the iPhone 4's signal loss problem, caused by holding the device with a particular grip. Apple is scheduled to hold a press conference on the matter later today, at about 10AM Pacific time, 1PM Eastern. It's thought that some form of hardware fix will be necessary, offered at Apple's expense.