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back to article iPhone 4 developers get software update, but will it fix death grip?

Apple’s iPhone 4 hasn’t even hit its one-month anniversary yet, but the company has already issued a software update that might fix the death grip problem affecting the device’s antenna. However, despite the fact that iOS 4.1 was made available to developers late yesterday, the Cupertino outfit is keeping quiet until Friday, …

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>that can lead to dramatic drops in reception and bandwidth...

Actually, that's not what they said - they said that can lead to *apparent* dramatic drops in reception and bandwidth...

Whether this is bollox or not is another question, but you could at least report it correctly!

PS no problem with my bars. Still keeping me inside the cage fine thanks...

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WTF?

Wat?

What on earth did I just watch?

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Thumb Up

all fixed!

if antenna = short_circuit then

signal_icon = "much_taller_bar_icon.png"

else

signal_icon = "normal_bar_icon.png"

end if

phew, sorry it took so long.

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Not going to fix 'death grip'

Nobody - Apple included - has suggested that this software update is going to fix the 'death grip' problem. All this is for - as Apple have stated - is to give the bars a more realistic representation of signal strength.

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FAIL

"Captain! the gauge says we're nearly out of air! *gasp*"

"Quick! Make the numbers on the gauge bigger!"

"Ah- that's better!"

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Jobs Horns

Apple have lied and lied and lied

Apple have lied and lied and lied about this to customers and the press. It is obviously a design flaw in the antenna arrangement where the spacer can be easily bridged and cause interference problems.

They've shipped a unit with an obvious and basic design flaw. I actually really do hope that this ends up as a Class Action purely because I would love to see the court subpoena Apple's internal emails on the subject...

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Unhappy

@AC re: lying liers

"I actually really do hope that this ends up as a Class Action purely because I would love to see the court subpoena Apple's internal emails on the subject..."

I hope you have more exciting things going on in your life that you're not sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to be elated when someone catches a greedy corporation in a lie. Would you be so surprised, really? Is it worth the attention you're giving it?

Strange.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Consensus of people testing it seems to be:

- if you hold it right and are in a weak signal area reception is much, much better than the old iPhone 3GS

- if you hold it wrong and are in a normal signal area it's still better than the 3GS

- if you hold it wrong and are in a very weak signal area then it's about the same as a 3GS, but people are worried because they notice a dramatic change in the number of bars depending on how they hold it

So, for most people in most situations, it's much better than their old phone, and if you're not happy or it doesn't work for you they'll give you your money back. How is that grounds for a class action suit?

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Anonymous Coward

No, that's what happens to you

when you watch them getting gradually worse and worse and worse, because of all those who make endless excuses for pretending the rational approach is to figuratively look the other way while actual people who give a flying fuck - for instance about quality and ethics - are the sad ones. Which are you? One of the ones who thinks we're all doomed to a completely shit future so why try now, or one of the ones who can't comprehend further than the short term and so just doesn't get it?

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Flame

Umm

"So, for most people in most situations, it's much better than their old phone"

What if their previous phone wasn't an iPhone - then surely it could be worse!

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Not quite

From my experience, if you're in a weak signal area the iPhone is not as good as the 3G no matter how you hold it, and if you hold it like a normal human being the signal drops to nothing in a few seconds.

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Anonymous Coward

Well err ... yeah actually

For my considerable sins - I work in QA.

I have a professional (as well as a ghoulish) interest in seeing how these things occur. How they are dealt with when they do occur with a view of preventing them happening again.

(please note I am a different AC from the original AC - for all I know he just might take sadistic pleasure in it. Who am I deny him/her that pleasure)

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Hmmm

"- if you hold it wrong and are in a very weak signal area then it's about the same as a 3GS, but people are worried because they notice a dramatic change in the number of bars depending on how they hold it"

My boss has sword by the iPhone since it launched, but he's already returning this one because it's blatantly far worse than the 3GS. We've tried it several times, and bridging the antennas has actually dropped the call. Not bridging the antennas the call is of decent quality. How is this NOT a fundamental design flaw?

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Anonymous Coward

Easy

"How is this NOT a fundamental design flaw?"

Because it's not happening to everyone.

It's a design flaw and/or a manufacturing defect.

Nice to see so many owners in here telling us if the software update has changed anything for them instead of the usual tirades from a bunch Apple haters regurgitating the same anti-Apple stuff we've read almost non-stop since the story broke.

Oh, wait....

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I think the Apple boys have been watching Spinal Tap

This software "fix" seems like Spinal Tap's amps in reverse

"Our amps are so loud, we've made them go to 11"

"Why not just make 10 louder?"

"Our amps go to 11"

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Anonymous Coward

But 11 is louder than 10

Yup, they think if they say its not an antenna issue but a software glitch in the bars display often enough, loud enough and with upturned palms they can sweep the other antenna issue (death grip) under the carpet at the same time. It is regrettable that people stupid enough to fall for this, represented by the buyer in the video, are permitted to breed.

Will St Jobs allow himself to be cornered into admitting there are two 'antenna' issues (one that isn't really the antenna and is fixed by the patch and the death grip which Consumer Reports scientifically proved is a real hardware issue)? I know where my money lies.

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@AC

>> "(one that isn't really the antenna and is fixed by the patch and the death grip which Consumer Reports scientifically proved is a real hardware issue)"

I saw it on the Internetz, so it must be true--and scientific!

-dZ.

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Stop

Brace for disappointment

Anyone who thinks this fix is going to improve reception is going to be in for an unpleasant surprise. If anything we're going to have a deluge of complaints about the signal being worse after the update.

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Thumb Up

How many bars of signal have you got?

Just one- but it's fecking massive!!

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software fix?

I wonder if it's going to do something silly like disable the antennae not in use when making a call, or something.. It wouldn't stop the "short" but it might mean the two antennae aren't interfering with each other while in a call.

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Jobs Horns

Will please the fanbois

Classic Apply solution. It looks good so most won't bother to check it works.

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Anonymous Coward

Some info

The way the signal bars are being calculated is what they are fixing. So, whereas before you had to have over 80% (for example) to get 5 bars, now you have to have over 95%. That's an oversimplification, but hopefully you get the idea.

Plucking numbers out of the air to try to illustrate this, the calculation currently uses

1 bar - 5-10%

2 bars - 11-20%

3 bars - 21-30%

4 bars - 31-40%

5 bars - 41% +

The attenuation of the signal from the "death grip" (sheesh) is still there (as it is with all phones), but the signal strength indicator is being calculated more appropriately. For example, if you were in an area with a signal strength of 41%, you would see 5 bars. If cupping it in your hand then reduced the signal strength by 21%, then you would see it drop to 2 bars. Holy cow! A drop of 3 bars. If your signal strength was at 90% and you cupped it in your hand (which drops the signal strength by 21%) then it would drop to 69%. But this would still display as 5 bars.

This is why some people are seeing the problem and some aren't. It all depends on the signal strength before touching the phone. All phones are affected by this effect, but if they are reporting the signal strength differently then it won't be seen as a problem. What's to say that another phone isn't displaying 5 bars for anything over 15% signal strength!

Now, if the code that displays the bars is tied to the other code in the system, then a low signal strength could trigger the phone to try to swap to 2G network, or to try to negotiate a new connection, etc. So fixing the bars displayed may result in a better operation.

The change to the height of the bars is simply to make it easier to see and is just a "while we are making the other changes, then we might as well change that".

I fully expect that the apple-haters and iPhone-bashers out there will completely ignore these facts and carry on bleating on about how the "iFail" (or whatever other stupid thing they come up with to call it) is so rubbish and that their xxxx phone is far superior in every respect. Blah blah.

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hmm

if the code that draws the bars is also responsible for managing the phones network state i would be shocked. that is horrific software design. the system would already know the percentage left in the battery, the code that draws the bars should just draw the bars and nothing else. if the update is just changing how the bars are drawn this is entirely cosmetic and wont affect calls being dropped etc at all.

if the update adds specific logic to the system that turnsoff the antennas etc given certain situation, that might alleviate the problem but not eliminate it.

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Anonymous Coward

Clarification

What I meant when I said that the code drawing the bars might also be responsible for the network state was that the same algorithm is used such that it only did certain things (increase the power to the radio) based on the same calculations as the bars.

But then again, this is all just speculation that they are indeed linked. But the original explanation of the calculation of the signal strength still is relevant, I think.

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The problem is

no-one knows how they calculate the bar strength, if we use your example as the before who's to say that the after isn't

1 bar : 0 - 5%

2 bars : 6 - 10%

3 bars : 11-60%

4 bars : 61-80%

5 bars : 80% +

This way your iPhone is fantastic as it never drops below the magic 3 bars

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eom

completely ignoring facts

I was just reading the comments on this article and as I got to the end of this one I noted the claim to have included facts in this comment. I need clarification as to what these facts are.

They are not, for example, that to achieve a five bar status users have to achieve over 80% signal, unless someone is really lucky at guessing.

Plucking numbers out of the air? I am pretty sure that the only fact there is that they are made up.

Then claiming all phones suffer from the death grip. Really? I was under the impression that this was a design flaw with the iPown4. My gosh they have been careless manufactures haven't they?

The next conjecture is that other phones may display five bars for anything over 15%. A revelation! You have opened my eyes. How could I have been so stupid.

Moving forward we have possible solutions. If code is doing this then maybe that would work. That's great. Why not submit your code to Apple, I am sure they will be incredibly grateful.

In the second last paragraph it appears that someone is being quoted as saying "while we are making the other changes, then we might as well change that" but the only place that appears on the internet is the above comments. I am very interested where this factual quotation comes from.

Thanks for sharing!

Have a nice day.

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Anonymous Coward

@eom

The "facts" that apple haters would ignore (and that obviously includes you) is that the signal strength display isn't a linear progression and that the signal strength could be just over the limit for displaying 5 bars, but that a small attenuation in the signal strength could then cause the bars to drop.

"Plucking numbers out of the air" (if you care to continue your quote) "TO ILLUSTRATE THIS".

Yes, all phones suffer from the "death grip". All phones will have their signal attenuated if you place something next to the location of the antenna. Simple physics.

I'm not sure about the "possible solutions" you mention.

"Now, if the code that displays..." Notice the word _IF_.

"..then a low signal strength could trigger..." Notice the word _COULD_

This is just supposition and speculation. Quite obviously (it doesn't use phrases such as "The code does x so it should be changed to y and that will fix it").

The penultimate paragraph doesn't quote anybody. Nothing mentions that it is a quote from someone. But Apple have said that there will be an increase in the size of the bars only for cosmetic reasons.

Quoted from http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html

"We are also making bars 1, 2 and 3 a bit taller so they will be easier to see. "

(see, that's a real quote).

But thanks for proving the point (iPown4...).

FAHRWDYNFRO.

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But...

Kudos for an actually insightful reply - however hasn't it been demonstrated that under RF isolation with an emulated cell tower, bridging the antennas causes an attenuation of roughly -20dB? This is pretty damned significant.

Obviously all phones are prone to attenuation when held, basic physics. The issues here is that the 'really cool engineering' of the antenna completely ignores basic ergonomic factors - like how people usually hold a phone.

There's no dancing around the fact that Apple has significant missed the bar on this one.

They could easily fix the whole debacle by offering everyone who's bought an iPhone 4 thus far a free bumper, and insulate the damned antennas on future production runs. The fanbois could all point and shout about what a wonderful company Apple is again, Jobs could save face by actually fessing up to their mistake, and the world could finally go back to normal.

To play on words from the big man himself: "Fix your phone. Not that big of a deal."

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eom

Definition of a fact

"a thing that is indisputably the case" Oxford English Dictionary.

It seems that I did not make myself clear in my response.

First I would like to state, as a fact, that I do not in fact hate apple. I do not hate iPhone. Hating a brand seems to me to be akin to hating pluto. It has no point. Being critical is a different thing.

What I was trying to assert was that there was an absence of statement of fact and that it was indeed as admitted above supposition and speculation.

Supposition and speculation, illustration using made up numbers and "simple physics" (which has nothing to do with he death grip as I understand it being a manufacturing fault shorting two components, see consumer reports "Why Apple—and not its customers—should fix the iPhone 4") are not facts.

I am not convinced that the attenuation of electromagnetic radiation in electronic devices due to the proximity of animated objects is simple physics either.

Another tip """ is a quotation mark. What I have done there is put a quotation mark into quotations. The generally accepted use of a quotation mark is to surround a set of words, or quote, in a way that the quote can be identified as being a quotation.

What I am saying is that we should be careful when we use the word fact to describe opinion, and that is all.

P.S. what point have I proven by satirising the word iPhone?

P.P.S. What does FAHRWDYNFRO mean? is that welsh?

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Anonymous Coward

Clarification

It is a fact that the signal strength indicators are calculated as that. Yes, the numbers were made up because the actual numbers were not available, but the made up numbers illustrate the principle. This has been described in the original testing done by Consumer Reports.

It is simple physics. Maybe not to you though.

I bet you're a bundle of laughs down the pub.

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Pint

Idiot lights to keep idiots happy ...

so called idiot lights because they're for idiots who don't know how to read or understand analogue meters. No doubt the increased height will impress the viewers even more. Simple things for simple minds.

Now for Job's next sleight of hand ...

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Pixel preseveration

The point of the update is to reduce the number of bars that are a shown. As a result, the height of the bars has to increase slightly to keep the area constant. Surely that's obvious?

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Captions

Couldn't be arsed to plug in my headphones, so watched the vid with the automatically transcribed captions. I prsume the following captions were supposed to be iPhone 4:

- I found four.

- Night phone.

- Knife on.

- Knife and fork.

Brilliant.

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Silver badge

Never mind the software...

...just give everyone a sticker to put over the signal indicator to show full strength.

Then the mobile networks can also claim 100% UK coverage.

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Anonymous Coward

Hands up the iphone4 owners

None of you?

All smacks of Green with envy, if you don't like Apple or iphones why do you feel the need to bleat on incesantly!

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WTF?

Green with envy?

errrrr..............No.

I can pick my muti-tasking-phone-with-a-foward-facing-camera-and-working-proximity-sensor and make a call.

So, no I'm not envious. I'm not even sure what you think I *should* be envious about.

But it is nice to see Apple so epically fail ;)

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@Carlos

"But it is nice to see Apple so epically fail ;)"

Sick.

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Joke

Letters, Digits.

"I can pick my muti-tasking-phone-with-a-foward-facing-camera-and-working-proximity-sensor and make a call.

So, no I'm not envious. I'm not even sure what you think I *should* be envious about."

What? Don't you get it? It's an iPhone 4 for Jobs' sake! It's been made by Apple! And you don't have one, while other people do! *That* is what you have to be envious about. Your phone might have this feature, that gadget, or the other app - but it's not an iPhone 4, and it hasn't been made by Apple. You should be so envious that the term 'green with envy' has actually become a serious medical condition and you should visit the doctor immediately. Or perhaps your nearest mobile phone stockist.

As the video posted in this Reg article quite clearly demonstrates, the iPhone 4 is the BESTEST phone EVER, and you absolutely MUST have one if you want to be taken seriously.

How can you not see that?

How?

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Jobs Horns

Mine's up... but if I move my thumb a bit it drops right back down

OK, so technically *I'm* not an iPhone4 owner, but since my wife is, and since I've spent about as much time messing around with her shiny new slab of Jobsian almost-goodness as I have with my own non-fruity phone, I figure that if you think actually owning said phone is a requirement to pass comment on it, then I pretty much qualify.

Anyhoo, as I've said before, I suspect one of the reasons so many non-customers of Apple feel the need to pass comment on the company or its products is because of the way Apple behaves, and in some respects the behaviour of said commenters is no different to the behaviour of Apple. Time and time again Apple have passed comment on the devices or technologies developed by other companies, writing them off as not much cop, only to then do a complete about-face a few months later and release their own version of the exact same thing and claiming (with the aid of all their friends in the media) that it's something terribly exciting and new and oh wow we should all be super-thrilled that our lives can now be blessed with the addition of this fantastic new thing, all hail Jobs our saviour yada yada...

And you know what. A lot of us are downright sick and tired of it all. About as sick and tired of Apple/Apple-flavoured media bleating on incessantly about how crap other devices/technologies are, as you seem to be of people bleating on about how crap Apple/their products are. You know what would really make me sit up and respect Apple these days, in the same way I used to respect them back in the 80's? If they quit all the other-product bashing and the self-reverential "we'll only give our users something when we can make it perfect" type comments, and just got on with designing, testing and releasing genuinely well engineered products that, by the way they operate - NOT by the way they're marketed - actually do make people think that Apple are a company who only give their users stuff once it's perfect.

Sadly, the ongoing saga of the iPhone4 suggests to me that the Apple of 2010 doesn't seem to care quite so much about getting it right as the Apple of years gone by. Perhaps they're getting too big for their boots and no longer think they need to compete on quality, perhaps they've been rattled by the rapid growth in Android and felt pressured into getting the new handset out before it was really ready, perhaps it was just a genuine mistake. Who knows. All I do know is that their engineering team dropped the ball, and their PR team has done the square root of f'all to pick it up again. Glib "oh, you're holding it wrong" comments from the guy at the top just compound the sensation that the company really doesn't care about its customers who are genuinely affected by this problem - even if Apple didn't realise the true cause of the problem at the time, it's not exactly good customer relations to suggest it's user error given that no other product of this type suffers this same problem when used in the same way.

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Jobs Horns

Good job..

Apple aren't making iAltimeters for planes yet otherwise we'd be scraping bits of people off the floor all over the show.

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DJV

Retrieved from the black box...

Co-pilot: Hey, aren't we about to hit that mountain?

Pilot: Nope, the iAltimeter says we're way higher than that peak.

Co-pilot (looking UP at top of mountain): Oh yeah. My bad.

Plane: Crunch.

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Short Animation

Whoever created that animation has some serious issues. Either that or they're about 5 years old.

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iphone problem

its a slit on the side of the phone on the left hand side a user reported where the problem is so it isnt a software problem its a crappy design problem. apple sucks anyway just a ripoff company and for what just so you have a flashy case with a half bitten logo on it wow. i must get sick of repeating myself with apple on this in fact im sick of apple now and i know alot dont like my messages about apple well tuff im not a crazy fanboy like some.

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Heart

Someone stole my capslock

Someone find this man a shift key!

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@DEAD4EVER

It is generally considered poor form to type using your face. I recommend using those long, thin, finger-like things on the ends of your hands in future.

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stfu

maybe you aught to give it a rest about my messages

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe

You ought to learn to spell, punctuate and think.

Maybe then we won't get a headache trying to make sense of your rants.

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Megaphone

Could we possibly get real?

Yes. IF you place something that dampens a radio signal in front of an antenna, you will get a slightly reduced signal strength.

No. That's not the iPhone 4 problem. This one has two exposed antennas and you can bridge them. There's no other phone on the market (DO tell me which one, specifically, if you believe otherwise) today which has the same construction, since it's known to be problematic.

Other phones have their antennas insulated, normally in plastic. The N900 antenna assembly is actually quite similar to the iPhone 4, but - yes - *inside* the case. No signal drop. No magic, just a "why the heck didn't they put insulation on there?"

Yes, you did read it on the Internet. The physics remain the same. Someone dropped the ball, and since our friends at Apple and their more rabid fans have, for the last few years, spun such a lovely - and arrogant - tale regarding the iPhone, the rest of us - with working phones - get a chuckle.

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Jobs Horns

Lemon Aid fails

Perhaps readers who actually though a mechanical defective could be fixed by a software patch should take a look at: < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F6Qzf4foUI >.

I just had a thought. If Icrap 4 owners bought yellow tinted glasses they wouldn't be able to see the yellow tint on the camera images or even the yellow patches on the glass screens. The green blob seen on images also turns. blue.

The glasses are as much of a fix as the Lemon Air patch is.

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Bronze badge

How long is Steve Jobs nose?

We can always count on Apple for tall stories.

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