iPhone 4 antenna issue may be fixable with a software update; iPhone 4 recall not a possibility

iPhone 4 antenna issue may be fixable with a software update, an anonymous source tells the New York Times. Meanwhile, an iPhone 4 recall doesn't appear to be on Apple's radar.

In less than 12 hours, Apple will hold a press conference where Steve Jobs will presumably take the stage and address widespread concerns regarding iPhone 4 reception and antenna issues. The holding of an actual press event, in and of itself, is quite surprising given that Apple ordinarily invites members of the press to events only when it has a new product to announce.

Ahead of Apple's press conference, a number of intriguing reports have surfaced which may help shed some light on what Apple has in store for us later today.

First, Bloomberg reported early on Thursday that a senior Apple engineer and antenna expert had voiced his concerns about iPhone 4 reception issues to the top brass at Apple months ago.

Last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert, informed Apple’s management the device’s design may cause reception problems, said the person, who is not authorized to speak on Apple’s behalf and asked not to be identified. A carrier partner also raised concerns about the antenna before the device’s June 24 release, according to another person familiar with the situation.

As expected, Apple initially refused to comment on the story. A few hours later, though, Apple told the Wall Street Journal that Bloomberg's story was merely conjecture. "We challenge Bloomberg BusinessWeek to produce anything beyond rumors to back this up. It's simply not true," an Apple spokesman boldly stated.

Moreover, the WSJ report cites a person "familiar with the matter" who relays that Steve Jobs and Apple engineers were aware that the new iPhone 4 design brought with it reception issues, but that Jobs was ultimately so enthralled with the new form factor that he decided the pros outweighed the cons.

Also of interest is a tidbit dismissing speculation that Apple will use tomorrows press conference to announce a product recall -which, of course, makes sense. After all, there's no rational reason for Apple to issue a product recall when a) lives aren't in danger and b) affected and dissatisfied users can simply return the device for free.

So what, then, might be on the agenda? Free iPhone 4 bumpers? A gift card redeemable on iTunes and at Apple retail stores?

Shedding some more light on the matter was a late breaking New York Times article which not only corroborated the Journal's report that there would be no iPhone recall, but resurrected the idea that Apple may have a software fix up its sleeve.

Interestingly, a source familar with the iPhone 4's design stated that Jobs wasn't aware of the potential for iPhone 4 antenna problems until after the phone was released. That, of course, directly contradicts both the Bloomberg and WSJ reports.

In any event, the NYT's source explained that the iPhone 4's reception woes aren't solely attributable to hardware.

The person said the problems were longstanding but had been exposed by the design of the iPhone 4. All cellphones can be affected by the way a hand grips the phone, but well-designed communications software compensates for a variety of external factors and prevents calls from dropping, the person said...

The glitch could presumably be fixed with a software update, and it appears to be unrelated to one that affected the display of the phone’s signal strength.

Either way, it's nice to see Apple finally taking some pro-active steps to actually address this ongoing issue. Rightly or wrongly, the iPhone 4 antenna saga was/is spiraling out of control, and even prompted New York Senator Charles E. Schumer to pen a letter to Steve Jobs demanding Apple come up with a solution. 


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