iPhone 4 Signal Issue Can Be Fixed With a Software Update?

233723 iphone 4 frame

Despite the fact that today's release of iOS 4.0.1 addressed only the display of signal strength on the iPhone and not actual signal attenuation issues caused by touching the antenna in the side of the iPhone 4, a software fix may yet still be possible.

According to The New York Times, the signal attenuation issue is the result of an interaction between communication software within the device's operating system and the antenna, an issue that could presumably be addressed with a software update.

One person with direct knowledge of the phone's design said Thursday that the iPhone 4 exposed a longstanding weakness in the basic communications software inside Apple's phones and that the reception problems were not caused by an isolated hardware flaw.

Instead, the problems emerged in the complex interaction between specialized communications software and the antenna, said the person, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

The source also indicates that Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not learn of the signal issue until after the iPhone 4 began shipping, seemingly refuting a report from Bloomberg earlier today claiming that Jobs had been tipped off early in the design process that the antenna design could cause a problem.

The person said the problems were longstanding but had been exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed communications software compensates for a variety of external factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person said.

The issue is reportedly unrelated to the signal display issue already addressed by Apple in iOS 4.0.1.

If the source's claims are true, the information could shed some light on recent comments made by Jobs in an email to a customer claiming that the "facts are different" than has been portrayed by blogs and the media, which have positioned the issue as a hardware problem possibly necessitating a recall.

Apple has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow at 10:00 AM Pacific Time to address the iPhone 4, and the company is widely expected to discuss the signal issues. Sources indicated earlier today, however, that Apple is not planning a recall of the device.

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