New York: Apple Inc. admitted its iPhones overstate network signal strength and promised to fix the issue in the coming weeks, following complaints about the effectiveness of the phone’s wraparound antenna.
Apple said that its signal strength miscalculation dates back its original 2007 iPhone, but it did not directly address concerns that iPhone 4’s antenna design played a role in recent problems. It was the third time in three weeks that Apple apologized to customers of iPhone 4, its latest smartphone,
“Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong,” Apple said in an open letter to customers published on Friday.
Since iPhone 4 hit stores on 24 June, consumers have complained about cellphone reception problems when they hold the phone in a certain way. Even while just standing in one place a rapid decline in the number of signal bars can be observed depending on how the phone is gripped.
The company has already been sued by iPhone customers in at least three complaints related to antenna problems on the iPhone 4.
Rivals such as Motorola Inc have made thinly veiled digs at the iPhone’s problems in advertising of their own phones since the iPhone 4 complaints emerged.
Apple said in its letter that “gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars.” It said this problem is not limited to iPhone, but also plagues phones from Nokia and Research In Motion as well as phones with Google Inc Android software.
But Apple conceded that iPhone 4 consumers complained of a far bigger than normal drop in signal bars.
As a result of its investigation of the complaints, the company said it will update its software in coming weeks using a formula recommended by AT&T Inc, the exclusive US provider for iPhone.
Apple said that when users noticed a dramatic drop in the number of signal strength bars on their phone’s display it was likely due to weak network coverage in that area.
“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 4 or 5 bars,” according to the letter.
The company already had to apologize for order delays when it started taking iPhone 4 pre-orders on 15 June. It then apologized for a shortage of the phone in its stores since the device hit shelves 24 June.
Despite the complaints Apple has described the iPhone 4 as its most successful phone launch ever and it boasted sales of 1.7 million by the end of June 26.
Apple shares were down 0.6% at $246.99 on Nasdaq while AT&T shares were down 0.3% at $24.26 on New York Stock Exchange.
Users of iPhone have long criticized AT&T’s network performance. Its rival Verizon Wireless is widely expected to be added to Apple’s iPhone distribution in 2011.
Also on NYSE, shares rose 2% in Verizon Communications, the majority owner of Verizon Wireless, a venture with Vodafone Group.