Does iOS 4.1 Fix the Proximity Sensor as Promised?

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Apple released the first major update to iOS 4 yesterday--iOS 4.1. The iOS update comes with complete with a variety of new features and enhancements, but the most critical aspect of iOS 4.1 for many iPhone 4 users is whether or not Apple actually resolved the frustrating proximity sensor issue.

Some of the exciting new features in iOS 4.1 don't quite live up to the hype. The Game Center and Ping for iTunes have had a less than stellar reception thus far. However, those iPhone 4 users experiencing the proximity sensor issue, or iPhone 3G users cursed with poor performance under iOS 4 are ecstatic over the release of iOS 4.1.

Apple never really embraced ownership of the proximity sensor issue. It seemed to always be mentioned as an afterthought, barely acknowledged at Apple press conferences. Despite that, Apple was apparently working on the issue, and when Apple revealed the details of iOS 4.1 the proximity sensor fix was on the list of features and updates.

However, some developers with access to pre-release versions of iOS 4.1, or even the GM (Gold Master) release of the iOS update questioned whether the proximity sensor issue is actually fixed by the update. In fact, some developers suggest that the proximity sensor issue is a hardware engineering problem--like the antenna "death grip" and that no software fix can fully resolve it.

Well, the verdict is in--at least for me. I had a couple of extensive calls yesterday after applying the iOS 4.1 update and I can say that the experience was 100 percent better than before iOS 4.1. The display actually remained disabled throughout most of the call, and I did not have to deal with the annoying strobe of the flaky proximity sensor randomly enabling and disabling the touchscreen display, or accidentally muting or hanging up on calls with my cheek. Hallelujah!

That said, iOS 4.1 doesn't make the iPhone 4 perfect. What it does is resolve the remaining glaring issues that have plagued the iPhone 4 since its launch, and put it on a level playing field with the standard dysfunction found in smartphones in general.

As Steve Jobs pointed out when addressing "antennagate", all smartphones experience some degree of signal attenuation depending on how they're held. Calls will drop. Issues will arise. Within reason, that is to be expected and is just part of working with technology.

It only took 77 days from the time I actually received the iPhone 4, but thanks Apple for finally addressing the critical issues that made it frustratingly dysfunctional. With iOS 4.1 in place, I can focus on what makes the iPhone 4 great rather than on what makes me wish I had chosen Android.

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