The iPhone 4 Bluetooth: Bugs and Improvements


iPhone 4 Bluetooth Problems

When the iPhone 4 was first unveiled, people griped almost immediately about the then-infamous iPhone 4 Bluetooth issue, along with other issues such as those concerning the phone’s antenna and the camera. At the get-go, it seemed that the folks at Apple, for some twisted reason, decided to severely limit its built-in Bluetooth functionality.

Some of my tech-nerd friends—who have always made it a point to be among the first ones to get any new version of the iPhone—bore the brunt of the whole iPhone 4 Bluetooth brouhaha. As early adopters, they instantly became early lemon owners. Or so it seemed. Being an early adopter suddenly took on an ironically embarrassing connotation—suddenly the cool were looking a bit foolish.

The core of the problem, based on so many pages of online users’ feedback and rants on various forums and blogs, was that either the iPhone 4 Bluetooth connection tended to disconnect at the slightest physical challenge (a blocked door, a difference in how you held the device, or maybe the disconcerting way a nearby butterfly flapped its wings) or that something was getting in the way of how it supposed to efficiently do its job. In simple words, the iPhone 4 Bluetooth was not Bluetooth-ing in the usual awesome way an Apple device was supposed to. The iPhone 4 Bluetooth also tended to cause the device to freeze.

However, the issue that rankled users most was the muffled audio output whenever they used the device’s headset to speak with someone on the phone. For example, there were instances in which, using a Bluetooth headset, users complained that the person on the other end could not hear them. This was particularly vexing for owners of the previous version of the iPhone, the 3G-S, which (users agree in sing-song) worked beautifully well.

The range, the clarity of sound, the ease at which the device connected with other devices via the wireless technology—such facts of efficiency merely made the early adopters of the then new iPhone 4 feel bad about their decision to purchase the new iPhone. They probably felt like what Marsellus Wallace must have felt in that scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, when Bruce Willis’ character reneges on their agreement to fix the boxing fight.

And to think that they had been so excited about it. In fact, interest peaked months before the actual iPhone 4 launch when police authorities raided the home of the editor of a technology and gadgets blog over the possession of a “stolen iPhone 4 prototype.”

Fortunately, however, all such iPhone 4 Bluetooth issues are now water under the bridge. Thanks to the timely response of Apple’s engineering folks, the above-mentioned issues have been solved to such an extent that, overall, people who bought the iPhone 4 are actually more than eager to tell others about the device’s great features.

iPhone 4 Bluetooth improvements

For years since its first introduction, Bluetooth had been hounded by a technical “warning”: leaving Bluetooth turned on consumes a lot of power. And because it is often easy to forget that Bluetooth has been enabled (for example, after speaking on the phone with a Bluetooth headset and while driving), it has been a common experience among users to find their mobile device’s power fully drained.

The iPhone 4 Bluetooth was no exception—despite assurances that the device boasts of a talk time that far exceeds the duration of an ordinary human conversation, real-world performance can be a bit dodgy when things like Bluetooth connection enters the picture. That scenario, however, is radically changed with the iPhone 4S’s adoption of the latest in Bluetooth technology: version 4.0.

The frenzied global hype that surrounded the market launch of the iPhone 4S focused so much on the upgraded built-in camera and the new voice-activated digital assistant endearingly called Siri. And to a certain extent, the excitement is understandable: Siri is, as a technology reviewer described, “simply mind blowing.”

But while the previous iPhone 4 had Bluetooth 2.1, the iPhone 4S now has the latest version of the short-range wireless technology. In fact, the iPhone 4S is the world’s first mobile phone (or any phone for that matter) to come equipped with the latest version of the Bluetooth technology.

Former versions of the Bluetooth technology were essentially power-hungry mini-monsters. Because of the constant stream of device-to-device data and communication among Bluetooth connected devices, turning the feature on naturally requires power. But Bluetooth 4.0, thanks to new strategies in maintaining the connection between devices without requiring the constant exchange or stream of data, can be efficiently used even by the smallest devices powered only by the same tiny battery of any ordinary quartz wrist watch.

The iPhone 4 Bluetooth 4.0 implementation is only the beginning—with the new wireless device-to-device communication technology’s incredibly low power consumption, it is actually heralding a whole new array of applications previously occupied by other less efficient (and at times expensive technologies). For example, Bluetooth 4.0-enabled devices which are smaller and cheaper than ever are now possible, with an exciting set of new applications all aimed at making our lives easier.

Such an “always on” functionality enables such devices to passively perform a number of activities, such as inter-device communication (think of your microwave oven “talking” to your air conditioner or to your robot cleaner). Health monitoring devices can now be made even better and more accurate: devices can keep track of your heart rate in the background while they “talk” with other complementary devices, such as a medical alert base unit.

The current sheer awesomeness of a device like the iPhone 4S makes us faintly remember what a fiasco the iPhone 4 Bluetooth was when it was first launched. Hopefully, we have not seen the last of such awesomeness—as Bluetooth 4.0 is set to be implemented in the incoming generation of all sorts of mobile devices and gadgets, it is perhaps safe to assume that our modern digital device-dependent lives could actually become even more interesting.