Apple firmware update expected to fix 'death grip' glitch

Apple phone

The reception issues plaguing the Apple iPhone 4 since its launch on Thursday could be the result of a software problem about to be rectified with a firmware update.

Apple fan site AppleInsider cites "reader reports" that Apple's tech support forums had confirmed that an iOS 4.0.1 update to address the issue would be sent out early this week, before the comments were taken down along with all related discussions.

Thousands of iPhone 4 owners found that covering the lower left corner of the handset - a hold since dubbed "the death grip" by bloggers - saw signal strength fall away rapidly.

Responding to a flurry of complaints on Friday, Apple issued a statement acknowledging the problem, but appeared to have little to offer by way of solution, suggesting that such reception issues were par for the course on "wireless phones".

"Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas," advised Apple. "This is a fact of life for every wireless phone."

However, AppleInsider claims the now-removed Apple tech forum discussion revealed that the problem arose from incorrect radio frequency calibration of the baseband, which was causing the device to report signal issues instead of switching to a better frequency.

While Apple has thus far yet to comment on the claim, the company's chief executive Steve Jobs inadvertently added momentum to the firmware update theory when responding to an email from one disgruntled Apple iPhone 4 user who contacted him directly yesterday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"There is no reception issue. Stay tuned," was the Apple's boss' characteristically short response.

Despite reception issues and widely reported stock shortages, however, investment bank Piper Jaffray believes Apple may already have sold as many as 1.5 million iPhones in its first five markets last week.

Apple itself reported opening day pre-order sales of 600,000, while Piper Jaffray also factored in an average of 500 sales per US Apple store and 50,000 for launch retail partner Best Buy, then doubled the figure to cater for international sales.