Observers believe a total recall of iPhone 4 is unlikely, but free or discounted bumpers may be offered.
Apple plans to hold a news conference Friday where it will disclose how it intends to deal with mounting criticism of the iPhone 4 stemming from complaints that the device's antenna suffers from a critical design flaw.
Apple has provided few details about what it intends to announce at the news conference, which is to be held at the company's main campus in Cupertino, Calif., or whether CEO Steve Jobs will speak personally to the iPhone 4 issue.
Speculation is ranging from continued intransigence on Apple's part to an outright product recall. However The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources said to be familiar with Apple's plans, reported late Thursday that a recall is not in the cards.
The most likely outcome, according to some analysts, is that Apple will offer to provide free or discounted rubber cases, or "bumpers", that are designed to mitigate iPhone 4's reception woes.
Many iPhone 4 buyers have said the signal falters if the device's bottom left corner is covered by the palm of one's hand—a situation common if it's handled by lefties. Reports suggest the problem arises because grasping the phone in such a manner covers a small gap that's meant to separate the two ends of iPhone 4's perimeter antenna.
The bumper, which wraps around the phone's exterior, works by insulating the antenna from human contact.
Apple has come under increasing pressure in recent days to develop a permanent fix for the problem, and offer it to customers for free. Consumer Reports has said it cannot recommend iPhone 4 for purchase until the issue is resolved, and even New York Senator Charles Schumer has weighed in. Schumer said Thursday he also wants Apple to fix the iPhone 4 antenna at no cost to consumers.
Apple shares fell half a percent, to $251.45, in trading Thursday.
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