Apple will hold a press conference Friday at 10 a.m. PDT at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Although Apple has not said what it will discuss, it is expected that company execs will discuss the ongoing controversy with the iPhone 4's antenna. CNET will be at the press conference to bring you the full details, but in preparation we offer this FAQ on what we know so far.
Is Apple going to issue a full recall of the iPhone 4 on Friday? No. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the company will not do an official recall. That would be expensive and unnecessary. When consumer product companies issue recalls it's generally for product safety issues--like those Sony notebook batteries that were catching on fire three years ago. The iPhone 4 problems have to do with the phone's antenna reception, and are inconsistent and only affecting some customers. However, the antenna issue is still a problem Apple will have to address directly.
How will Apple fix the antenna problem for people who already bought the phone and people who still want to buy it but have waited? There are a couple of possibilities. Apple might offer free bumper cases, since that has been shown to alleviate the iPhone 4's antenna issue. Or Apple could decide to make it up to customers through an Apple Store credit--the way it did after the iPhone price-drop fiasco in 2007--ostensibly to allow people to buy a case of their choice for free.
There have also been rumors that a hardware modification is in the works. It could be a redesigned iPhone 4 with the antenna located in a different place than the current design (which would be a stretch in such a short period of time), or a plastic coating or molding that will cover the spot where the phone's two antennas meet. Perhaps this is something that Apple Genius Bar employees could fix, or maybe Apple will give customers who already own an iPhone 4 a new device.
Has CNET experienced problems with the antenna? In our testing, and in a video that we posted last week, CNET has found that touching the antenna gap on the iPhone 4's lower left side causes call quality to degrade. We tested three different iPhone 4s in various locations in San Francisco and experienced problems using various hand positions, including one finger on the gap, cradling the handset gently, and holding it tighter with our left hand on either side. In all instances, we made sure not to cover the microphone with our hands.
Our exact experiences varied when touching the area. At times our voice cut out completely, whereas on other occasions the audio became garbled. We did not, however, suffer any dropped calls. We also found, though not as frequently, that data upload and download speeds dropped and the number of bars in the signal strength meter decreased from five to two. … Read more