iPhone iOS 4.1 Beta Reporting In

The beta version of Apple’s iOS 4.1 went out to developers earlier this week and while it does change how the iPhone 4 reports signal strength, the consensus says that a software fix ultimately cannot repair an underlying hardware problem. A press conference was scheduled for this Friday by Apple and the company is expected to use it as a platform to announce the release of its iOS 4.0.1 (the one that everyone has hoped will fix the antenna “death grip” issue). It might also take a crack at a dispelling all of the negative publicity that the iPhone 4 has received since Consumer Reports decided to withhold its coveted “Recommended” rating from the incredibly popular smartphone.

The “death grip” that has been maintaining a strong hold over the majority of Apple and iPhone related news since the release of the iPhone 4 last month is relatively simple to explain. It is caused by users touching a part of the new phone’s antenna, which is integrated into the stainless steel band running around the device’s outer rim. Users have been reporting dropped calls, a reported signal strength plunge of two full reception bars, and decreased data connection speeds when the antenna is touched during normal phone usage. Apple has been trying to persuade current and future customers that a physical problem with the phone does not exist and that a simple software patch (iOS 4.0.1 presumably) would fix any issues reported.

Not so fast. Initial tests of iPhone 4s running the beta version of iOS 4.1 show that while the smartphone now does report signal strength much more accurately than it did previously, the phone still shows a significant signal strength drop when the phone is held “incorrectly.” Anandtech.com did some testing of its own and noted that while the majority of new iPhone users will “see fewer bars disappear when they hold the iPhone 4 in a bare hand,” the tradeoff from the software patch is that, “the iPhone now displays fewer bars in most places.”

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