Apple unlikely to recall the iPhone 4

16 Jul 2010

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Apple, which is holding a press conference later today regarding the antenna problems with the latest iPhone device, is unlikely to be recalling the iPhone 4 and blames the problems on a stealthier than normal approach to testing and releasing new devices.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple is seeing no slackening in demand for the iPhone 4 despite issues with the antenna.

Buyers have complained of display discolouration and lost reception when they touch the stainless steel band on the iPhone’s surround, a component that actually doubles as the device’s antenna.

As many as 1.7 million of the devices sold in the first three days.

However, Apple will not be recalling the device, the Wall Street Journal reported. The problems lay in the stealthy manner in which Apple brought the device to market.

It kept such a shroud of secrecy over the device that it didn’t get the customary real-world testing. To compound the issue, Apple normally disguises the device by putting it in a new shell to distort its appearance, resulting in testers at carriers not being aware of the deterioration in signal if you hold it a certain way.

According to a report on Bloomberg, Apple’s senior antenna expert told CEO Steve Jobs in the design phase of the new iPhone that the antenna design could lead to dropped calls.

A source told the newswire that senior Apple engineer Ruben Cabellero informed management ahead of the 24 June release of the device in the US.

However, in recent days, Consumer Reports, after testing three different iPhone 4s, caused a storm when it said it could not recommend the iPhone 4.

Apple’s stock fell 2pc on Tuesday on what was an otherwise buoyant day on the stock markets.

Comments in a research note by Bernstein Research analyst Antonio Sacconaghi suggest that if Apple were to recall the iPhone 4, it would cost Apple US$1.5bn.

But the sense out there is that consumers who have the device would be irate if they had to hand it back and a far more sensible approach would be to hand out for free the US$29 bumpers that apparently resolve the problem that occurs when a part of the handset comes in contact with flesh.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com