Now that the iPhone has been in customers' hands for a few weeks, the antenna issue has been demonstrated time and again to be very real. Holding the lower left-hand corner of the iPhone causes a significant loss in signal strength. Those in low-signal areas to begin with will often lose their connection entirely. As soon as that corner of the phone is released, the connection is restored.
Apple issued a statement on July 2nd which essentially said that the iPhone is erroneously reporting signal strength via the number of bars displayed. Apple plans to release a patch to fix the discrepancy soon. In other words, a user whose phone says it's got 3 bars could actually have less than that. After applying Apple's fix, the iPhone would read 2 bars or 1 for that user.
That's not a fix. Touching the corner will, we assume, continue to kill the signal. Users will just have a more advanced warning of the results: "I'm about to drop to 3 bars" vs. "I'm about to lose my connection entirely."
This week, people are talking about a hardware recall. Professor Matthew Seeger of Wayne State University told Cult of Mac that a hardware recall is "inevitable." Meanwhile, Dr. Larry Barton can't understand Apple's slow response. "There has to be a military-like response to this issue," he told Cult of Mac. "And we have not seen this kind of urgency."
A hardware recall would be a disaster, but consider the damage that's already been done to Apple's PR. Consumer Reports (CR) suggested people not buy the iPhone 4. Say what you want, but CR is the definitive guide for a huge number of consumers.
A software fix that simply reports how poor the iPhone's connection to AT&T's network won't fix this issue. Apple's got to act. Fast.