iPhone 4 recall: Should Apple admit there's a problem and offer a fix?
If you haven't had the chance to see the iPhone 4 reception issue in person you can watch the video below, which shows the iPhone 4's signal disappear when it is held in a manner that bridges the two antenna. Unfortunately, it's a manner that most individuals use when chatting on their phone and it has been called the "Death Grip" by many members of the press and the iPhone holding public.
Thus far Apple's response to the issue has ranged from a short email from Steve Jobs telling a customer that he should, "Just avoid holding it that way" to an official statement blaming a software problem for incorrectly showing the signal strength but Apple has not publicly admitted to an iPhone 4 reception problem due to the hardware. Most recently the company has been accused of censoring the Consumer Reports iPhone 4 report from the company forums.
While Apple can claim that the iPhone 4 reception issues are in fact not issues and there is no need to issue an iPhone 4 recall, the evidence of a hardware fix is mounting. In addition to the Consumer Reports test, other experts in the field have weighed in telling Gizmodo.com that, "The iPhone 4 is a fantastic device but a lousy phone." That claim is then backed up with easy-to-understand graphs of his tests.
It seems that the only real fix to the reception issue at this time is to buy an iPhone 4 case such as the iPhone 4 Bumper case that Apple sells for $29, a case designed specifically to fix iPhone 4 reception problems or apply tape, nail polish or some other similar material to prevent the hand from making contact with the antenna.
Given the widespread nature of this issue, it isn't out of line to expect an iPhone 4 recall. According to a group of PR Professionals interviewed by CultofMac.com, an iPhone 4 recall is needed and it may start with free Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers, That may be a long shot, however, given that a leaked Apple customer service memo explicitly tells representatives, "We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON'T promise a free bumper to customers."
If an iPhone 4 recall does happen, don't expect it to be called one. Apple is no stranger to quality control issues, the company prefers to offer "repair extensions" or "warranty extensions" to correct problems with notebook batteries, logic boards and most recently Apple Time Capsule problems that affected models sold in 2008.
For consumers who have already purchased an iPhone 4 and are unsatisfied, Apple has waived the 10% restocking fee normally charged for phones returned within the first 30 days, but other than that the company is not taking steps to appease critics.
It is worth noting that while Consumer Reports doesn't recommend you go out and buy the iPhone 4, it is the highest ranking smartphone on their Smartphones Ratings, beating out the iPhone 3GS and the Sprint EVO 4G. While the iPhone 4 may be the best smart device, you may want to give it your own "Death Grip" test before making it your own smartphone.
As to whether Apple will actually recall the iPhone 4, it would be a good move and arguably an action that should be taken even if it is re-branded by Apple as the iPhone 4 Antenna Upgrade instead of an iPhone 4 recall. Consumers should have the reasonable expectation to hold an iPhone the way it is demonstrated on stage and in commercials to make phone calls. Apple fans are loyal, but if the new iPhone's issues can't be blamed on AT&T then Apple could be facing a mutiny from their ardent supporters.