updated 06:45 pm EDT, Fri July 2, 2010
Claims maintain Apple had bad production run
A tentative rumor largely gone unnoticed has raised the possibility that the iPhone 4's reception problems may have been caused by production issues. At least this and one other report claims that Apple support representatives were told there was an issue with a coating meant to prevent accidentally bridging the antenna but which wasn't present on all units. Apple couldn't offer a repair in either case, but one caller was told that their existing phones could be repaired or replaced once Apple had an official solution.
Later production runs could theoretically solve the problem if the material is the only issue.
The rumor is unconfirmed and first surfaced days before Apple's official response, which made no mention of hardware and claimed only that the phone was misreporting the actual signal, not losing performance. As such, the details could still be inaccurate.
While room for doubt exists, the rumors would potentially explain the inconsistent behavior of the glitch. Some customers have had few or no issues regardless of where they use the phone, while others have had signal problems even in known good areas. The losses could be dictated by grip but haven't been objectively verified; Consumer Reports said today that it can't reproduce the conditions.