This is the change that Apple promised in its press release about the iPhone 4’s antenna. Here’s the relevant part, which comes right after Apple admits it was displaying too many bars to make reception look better:
To fix this, we are adopting AT&T’s recently recommended formula for calculating how many bars to display for a given signal strength. The real signal strength remains the same, but the iPhone’s bars will report it far more accurately, providing users a much better indication of the reception they will get in a given area. We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see. [emphasis added]The new modem firmware is numbered 02.07.01 (the old one was 01.59.00), and may or may not improve actual reception. It seems unlikely that iOS 4.1 will be released to the public as soon as Friday (when Apple has an iPhone 4 press conference scheduled), as the update doesn’t just contain a modem fix but also brings new features: the Game Center game rankings app, along with tweaks to the spell check (you can switch it off) which will need to run through the usual rounds of beta testing.
Apple could release another, smaller update, and there are rumors to support that. Apple blog Razorianfly reports that there may be a 4.0.1 update, and this could come as soon as Friday.
It’s going to take some fancy PR footwork by Apple quieten the increasingly mainstream chatter about iPhone 4 signal strength, but if anyone has the PR department capable of such a feat it is Apple. I’m of the opinion that the new antenna design is actually better, and that Apple simply got busted for finessing the bars to make the signal look better.
Signal graphic [MacRumors Forums]
Letter from Apple Regarding iPhone 4 [Apple Press]
iOS 4.1 Beta Includes Apple’s Announced Signal Bar Changes [MacRumors]
iOS 4.1 (Beta 1) Now Available Worldwide [Razorianfly via Mac Stories]