iPhone 4 Antenna-Gate: Will Apple Issue Free Bumpers?

iPhone 4 antenna-gate is on.

Apple is holding a surprise iPhone 4 press conference tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT on the Cupertino campus on the heels of a media storm resulting from Consumer Reports staff saying they couldn't recommend the iPhone 4 due to faulty antenna design and reception issues.

The iPhone maker is facing mounting criticism from analysts and consumers over the company's lack of response to complaints that signal strength is spotty when the mobile device is held in a certain way in which the hand covers a steel band that acts as the antenna and interferes with reception.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling late yesterday said the company would hold the press conference to discuss the iPhone 4, which went on sale last month, but did not disclose any other details, according to a Reuters report.

By press time, Apple had not returned calls requesting comment.

Though 1.7 million iPhone 4s were sold in the first three days it was available, the record-breaking launch has been plagued by controversy over reception problems. On July 2, Apple issued a letter saying a software fix would resolve the issue and that the glitch was due to overstated signal strength on the device. But since then a vote of no-confidence by Consumer Reports, which said the antenna design is faulty, has caused what some experts say is a public relations nightmare for Apple.

With Consumer Reports calling for Apple to offer a free fix for iPhone 4 owners, some analysts are speculating that Apple tomorrow will announce that it is giving out free "bumpers," or cases, that will safeguard the phone from poor reception.

Meanwhile, the consumer advocacy magazine is on record saying that the cases do fix the iPhone 4 antenna issue.

"Apple's Bumper, a frame-like cover sold by the company to add a 'dash of style' to the iPhone 4, has been flagged by some bloggers and consumers as a possible fix for the phone's signal-loss problem. We put the accessory to the test in our labs and confirmed that it does remedy the issue," Paul Reynolds, of Consumer Reports, wrote yesterday in the Consumer Reports Electronics Blog.


iPhone, Apple, iPhone 4, Consumer Reports, iPhone 4 antenna