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Will Apple Recall the iPhone 4?

Now that the objective, respected product testers at Consumer Reports have decided to withhold an endorsement of the iPhone 4 because they typically only recommend phones that work when you hold them, everybody is talking about whether Apple, faced with a PR disaster, will actually recall the product. How likely is this? Inevitable, some say. Unlikely, claim others. Most everyone agrees, though, that if Apple isn’t going to go through with a costly and time-consuming recall, the least it could do is provide consumers with free cases, or “bumpers,” which right now cost a ridiculous $30.

Leander Kahney at Cult of Mac talks to PR and crisis-management experts, all of whom seem to think that a recall is necessary and inevitable. “Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” says Professor Matthew Seeger. “It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”

Molly Wood at CNET sees the wisdom of a recall. It “would give Apple major goodwill and prove its commitment to the impeccable quality and design principles it’s always espoused. Yes, it would be expensive and unprecedented. But wow, would it win back some flagging hearts and minds.”

• Yahoo technology writer Ben Patterson says that “Apple may not be able to fix the iPhone’s reception problems without a radical, costly, time-consuming hardware revamp,” but suggests it “needs to make some kind of real gesture here — be it free Bumpers, an admission of mistakes, an apology or even a recall — before its tarnished image is damaged beyond repair (if it isn’t already).”

Anton Wahlman at the Street agrees that a recall would “take one year or perhaps more” and “be totally counter-productive for Apple and its customers alike,” and instead suggests that each “customer to do what each customer should ALWAYS do with ANY smartphone of value ANYWAY: Use it with a protective cover, such as Apple’s own so-called bumper product, available at the Apple store for $30 apiece.”

• Citi analyst Richard Gardner tells AFP, “We consider the probability of a recall to be very low given our view that the issue in question is not serious enough to warrant a recall.”

Dan Frommer at Business Insider thinks this will all blow over after a few days. “[T]here’s no reason for a huge recall,” he says. “This isn’t a faulty car that might kill you. It’s a phone, and it’s a phone that works.”

Will Apple Recall the iPhone 4?