iPhone Signal Bar Changes: iOS 4 vs iOS 4.1 [Picture]


The end of this week is going to be a busy one for Apple. There will be a press conference to address the iPhone 4 reception issue, plus iOS 4.1 beta has been released for Developers. One of the notable changes in iOS 4.1 is a change to signal bar graphics. Since Apple’s algorithms were “incorrect”, a visual change to signal bars are now in the upcoming iOS 4.1 update.

Here’s what MacRumors Forum member macduke came up with:

I took the images from 4.1 and compared them to my 4.0 iPhone 4. I then did an opacity comparison and used the marquee tool to select the areas of each and color the difference in green. This is the result that I got, after blowing up the image x 4 so its easier to see. They have effectively made the smaller bar twice as tall! As tall as the old 2nd bar. Wow:

So now when you have one bar of signal, it doesn’t look as “bad” as it should be. Yes, some iPhones are suffering from this issue (which are the only ones we hear about), but there are plenty of people who haven’t experienced this issue whatsoever.

Here’s Gizmodo’s graphic:

Engadget’s article here sums up this “reception issue” quite well:

So we’re doing what we can do: we’ve collected reports from every member of the Engadget staff who’s using the phone, as well as reached out to a variety of tech industry colleagues for their experiences. As you’ll see, most of our peers seem to be doing perfectly fine with their iPhone 4s, but the people who are having problems are having maddening issues in an inconsistent way. We’d say it all comes down to the network — particularly in New York City, where AT&T just completed a major upgrade — but even that isn’t a consistent factor in predicting experience. Ultimately, we just won’t know what’s really going on until Apple comes clean and addresses this issue (and the growing PR nightmare it’s become), but for now we can say with some certainty that not everyone is affected, and those that are seem to be in the minority.

I completely agree it comes down to the network. Rogers, Telus, and Bell have some pretty good networks in Canada. Most of the time if you’re having trouble with a phone, you’re going to complain about it. But if things are all peachy, you’re not going to go out of your way to brag about it online.

The fact of the matter is that there is a real issue with the antenna, no matter how you put it. We’ll find out on Friday what Apple has to say. Today is going to be a long day.


  • r u serious?? changing the signal bars shape is going to fix a hardware problem?? I jsut dont get it that how they r going to fix a hardware problem with upgrading the software!! but agaian, that's just me.
    can't wait to see what bullshit, Steve Jobs is gona come up with.

  • Zamrod

    The thing is, it's not really a hardware issue depending on how you look at it. The issue isn't bridging the two antenna like everyone seems to think it is. The problem is that you are putting your finger over the “broadcast” point of both antennas at once. Since your skin absorbs some of the signal as it goes through your hand, you are reducing the amount of signal you get.

    Now, you can do this to any phone. If you can find the broadcast point of the antenna and cover it, it will reduce your signal strength. But the closer your skin is to the antenna, the more of the signal it blocks, so having the antenna on the outside does make it worse.

    But, most likely covering the antenna with your hand will reduce your signal strength 2-3 bars. Which means if you have 5 bars, you won't get a call disconnected. Unfortunately, due to the miscalculation of signal strength by the iPhone, some people are showing 4 or 5 bars when they really have 2-3 bars. Which means, when they cover up the antenna, they drop the 2 bars they have and they lose all connection.

    The real problem is that AT&T in the states has been giving people such poor service that they only get 2 bars even in places that should have much better service than that.

    The reports I'm hearing(the ones that are more balanced and not filled with panic) are that most people are actually seeing less dropped calls with their iPhone 4 than they were with their iPhone 3GS. Their signal strength is consistently 1 bar higher than their old phone as well.

    I anticipate that in Canada where we have fairly good signal strength that no one will notice the problem at all. I'm even hoping when I get it that it has just enough better signal strength that I can get a call in my workplace which is pretty much a cell dead zone for my current phone.

  • It's too bad that nearly everyone seems to be too dumb, spiteful, jealous or ignorant to understand this.

    Well put Zamrod, your comment is full of accuracy, if not brevity.

    TL;DR Version:

    Sure, the Signal gets Worse when you hold it 'That Way' but even with the signal loss, the iPhone 4 is still better at reception than previous iPhones – and the way that the bars were diplaying everything was making matters look worse than they really were.

  • I hear what u saying. But according to what u just said, then its AT&T's problem so we should see the iphone's reception problem only in states……which is not only in states but in other countries too.
    Anyways, I'm hoping that this is a software issue and will be solved by the time it comes to Canada.

  • If u r to compare, which one is Bad and which one is Worse?! Then i got nothing to say 🙂
    when u r comparing an aspect of a phone, u should compare it generally. Not to a specific model.

  • Kbsimnl

    I wonder how all this controversy will affect the Canadian release date?

  • mackman6151

    while it's true that you “can do that to almost any phone” the question remains only if u can FIND the broadcast point on most phones. The fact that the broadcast point is right where a person would hold the phone to text clearly indicates its a hardware problem/defect because they intentionally put it there (see the keynote from iphone 4 announcement date at wwdc where steve jobs said “its never been done before the entena is not on the outside”)

  • 11thIndian

    Therein lies the question. Up until the announcement of this press event, I wasn't particulary concerned that we'd be seeing a delay based on the issue. Now, I think based on what they say, and what they plan to do for people in countries where the iPhone4 has already been released, it may affect the Canadian launch date. Despite the issue, the iPhone4 is still selling extremely well; so IF Apple's answer to the problem was a voluntary recall (those who are having issues can return their phone for a somehow altered model- worst case scenario) then this would put even further pressure on their supply chain and COULD mean a delay in the CA release. But any other announcement than a hardware recall (software fix, bumper incentive) will likely mean no delay in release.

    My 2 cents…

  • Frenk

    the problem has NOT been reported anywhere other than the U.S.

  • Frenk

    spell words properly if you want to be taken seriously. I mean, how much more effort does it take to spell “you're” instead of yr, or “you are” instead of “u r”…..grow up!

  • Frenk

    Canadian release date is July 28th

  • Me

    I agree with the poster here. It's doing the same thing to the Blackberry Curve 8330 and nobody seem to complain about it. I'm using an 8330 right now and the reception is not affected even when the bars go down because our Network in the city is good. Maybe Apple should scrap AT&T.

  • Networx

    July 28th? Really? How do you know this for sure? Would be interesting to know.

  • Networx

    Has anyone brought an iPhone 4 up from the States and actually tried it here in Canada? It would be helpful to hear from anyone who has and what results they had. I'm putting iOS 4.1 beta on my 3Gs today and will report on what happens.

  • Me

    I'm hoping it's the 24th as that's the day I can upgrade my phone if the allow upgrades during the launch. I have a feeling the eligibility will be just for new contracts only which I think will really suck for a lot of people including ME.

  • I have to keep reminding myself that Rogers has a good network elsewhere, because we certainly don't experience here. I'm still torn as to whether I want to sign a new contract with Rogers or not, because while customer service at Rogers has been amazing to me anytime I had a problem (FAR from the experiences I had with both Bell and Telus), my area has horrible Rogers signal issues.

  • Me

    I'm with Bell for years now and my experience with them is great. I would rather sign up with a company that holds good Network in the area than try and think of good customer service when you will probably only going to call them once in a blue moon. Good luck and let us know what you've decided.

  • don

    The iphone has a design flaw and should be replaced or re-called. Apple is dropping the ball here and starting to look really bad! The software fix is amusing; it doesn't fix the problem it just lengthens the indicator bars!
    The iphone fanboys and fangirls are delusional. They have a turkey on their hands! they just can't admit it!

  • Me

    You're no expert here than anybody else so don't jump the gun. Just chill brother. This also happens on the Blackberry 8330 and I don't remember seeing a recall. I'm a Blackberry user 8330 with the same flaw and I have no problems with reception. I have a cousin in New York who purchased the iPhone 4 with AT&T and so far he doesn't have any issues with it. Wait until tomorrow and we'll all find out.

  • Mr. Mac

    Full AVRCP is finally coming! Sad that such a long awaited functionality is overshadowed by this week's iPhone gossip.
    I'm excited to be able to walk down the street without repeating 'Next Song' into my BT headset over and over, sounding like am idiot, when I should simply be able to touch a button. This is also excellent when using my BT headset on my motorbike-no more wind interference when I'm yelling 'next song' into that headset. Don't understand why this wasn't out in the beginning.

  • What do you Ontarians think the best network is in the GTA?

  • Bell has been more robust for me, anyways. The Rogers network seems to have trouble during major events too. And the new HSPA network has users from Bell, Telus, Koodo, Solo and Virgin Mobile, and I rarely run into problems.
    I am able to achieve a 5+Mbps speed in downtown Toronto.

  • I agree. I've only had to call Bell CS maybe two to three times a year. The last time I called asked for a free trial of a feature and they gave it to me, no questions asked.

  • roadcarver

    What a scam from Apple!

  • Ex

    Yes. We've tested one with some of the carriers.

  • Someone

    Bumper case for free equals no iPhone for me.

  • wuju

    I agree. Will just have to wait.

  • Networx

    I'm assuming you've had good results then? Any details you could share would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Ex

    See my long comment on this post

  • roadcarver

    Take note that for Bell, their 3G is still not as overloaded as Rogers. Comparisons will have to be done until their subscription #'s matches Rogers.

  • :)) man u must be so retarded cuz i don't think it aslo takes lot of effort to figure out what “u” or “u r” means.
    use ur fucking brain (if u got one).
    and for god's sake don't comment something irrelevant to the post. I mean if u got problems with the way i write just PM (do u know what that means?) me.

  • That's BS. Don't talk about something that u dont know. My own friend in UK has the same problem, so STFU.

  • Chrome262

    When i was with Telus (after i left Fido, back then they just didn't have the coverage) they had great signal strength and coverage. Bell had issues at times but I dropped their regular phone service because of the lack of customer service. Now i am back with Fido, they basically use rogers cell coverage now, but even though i do get great signal in town Rogers is lacking out of Toronto so I know what you mean. I will stick with Fido, because the plans are great and per second billing can't be beat.

  • Chrome262

    So in your post you did notice a slight drop on telus, but the others were fine. hummm this leads me to believe that even though their might be some signal loss the local networks provide enough signal strength to compensate. Thats great news, thanks for the test run. Also, when you thought you might have one of the good phones, testing it in the states reveled a signal loss, So you could of had one of the affected phones. I think what is happening is all the phones actually are similar, maybe with varying degrees of response, but its all boils down on how your signal is to begin with and how well your carrier network is (whether it because of to much use as with ATT, or responsive towers like Telus) So a software fix could make it easier and probably “fix” the issue. Come Jan, i hope Apple drops ATT for our US friends benefit, and unlock phones.

  • rorypiper

    How many people still make calls on their smart phone, anyway. It's all texting, email, and Twitter, for me. I agree they need to fix this, but why is such a giant international, mainstream story? Is it because Apple has been so awesome in the past, that the moment they screw something up, it's big news? I guess I'm getting tired of this story. 😛

  • Chrome262

    It doesn't mean a delay, if you look at this sites test (see link above), you can see that even a phone with suspected issues, works great up here. So, if apple figures this out, which they might already know of, then they may not delay release. Also, if they decide to give a free bumper, and promise the next batch will be evaluated and perhaps changed then we could still get our phones in time. Short of a total recall i don't see a significant delay if it does happen. Look at it this way though; those of us who take the effort and see what's really going on, might end up getting our phones before others. The press hype and info may keep people away from the phone. Leaving more for us lol.

  • Chrome262

    Go to the home page and look over all the stories, there is one on suspected release dates. July 30th is my bet but even Jobs said no delay.

  • Networx

    I saw that when it was first posted and just forgot about how much work you'd put into it. All my questions have been answered. Now if Apple would just start selling the damned thing here so I can play with it.
    Thanks for everything you do for the site and all of us iPhone freaks. Much appreciated.

  • xxJDxx

    This isn't really the case though. Many people are able to cover the 'sweet spot' and completely stop all data transmission. It's not just a minor disruption in the signal strength it completely halts it in many cases. And yes, this is worldwide not just on AT&T…. apple had better do something about this or it's “Android here I come….”

  • xxJDxx

    I'm not sure where u get ur information but people experience complete loss of signal when covering 'the spot' not just minor degradation… Which is much worse than the old iPhones, not better… The rest of the time may be better but that's still not acceptable

  • meeee3

    Again it's just covering “that spot.” Most people who can achieve the “no data transmission” are actually trying to produce it, of course you can when you try to produce it, but ask anybody who uses the phone, how many times do they just get dropped calls without intentionally touching that spot on the phone. Yes I understand that it's a defect/hardware issue or whatever you want to call it, but in all reality how hard is it really to just not touch that spot. (My friend has an iPhone and just to see how I would hold the phone I put it up to my ear, I was not touching the bottom left corner of the phone. I guess I just don't see what the big deal is all about, Before you start “OH HES A FAN BOY” No I'm not an Apple fanboy nor do I even own an iPhone, I'm actually more of a Droid guy..

  • meee3

    Oh by the way, I honestly do think that the iPhone 4's that have been affected should just be re-called and Apple is failing there.

  • It really comes down to that “spot” that causes the signal to degrade. Signals will degrade if people force the issue but you avoid that area, you'll be fine.

    There are other major SNAFUs from other companies and their smartphones (EVO 4's horrible battery life; every single Blackberry, etc) but of course when you're #1, people will do whatever it takes to dethrone you.

  • Luca

    im sorry but this is freaken anoying hearing always these antena problems ya i no its a big deal and all but every day all over the interenet u read atena probelm iphone 4 antena problem solving it antena problem steven jobs leing its anoying im not sayign this artical is cuz its saying that they have a kinda solution but other links that just say the same shit we all no it has an antena problem when 10 different people post it on there site dnt post another 50 everyone knows the iphone 4, one of the most popular electornic devices. There ive prooved my point lol

  • Whiterhino14

    All of this seems to have been blown so far out of proportion that Apple would have to respond even if there wasn't any issues. BP is not getting as much press as Apple and they are ruining a vast eco system. How screwed up is that!! Most users are totally happy and have no complaints. My only fear here is that Canada is going to get boned on our release date because Apple will have to redirect our Iphone to placate those who have created this insane drama. If it were Motorola or Nokia it would have been a blip on the radar for a day at most. I didn't see any pics today of people camping out waiting for the new Droid X that was released today. Apple is a victim of their colossal image.

  • Vartanarsen

    please check you English/check spelling….my eyes hurt when reading this

  • Vartanarsen

    Agree with Arash..Apple Forums are loaded with UK complaints

  • Noemail

    Really, you've resorted to bitching about the practice of abreviation? Smartphones are designed for SMS (Short message service) and often people use abbreviation. Perhaps you should replace the exclamation mark with a question mark when you intended to ask a question, or even a question mark followed by an exclamation mark to place a heavy emphasis on the point.

    Back to everyone else except for Frenk: Do you recommend the iPhone 4?

  • guest

    ummmm why does my iphon 4 only show 1 bar after my friends fooled with it a little?