Pressure is mounting on Apple ahead of tonight's iPhone 4 press conference with the news that US Democratic senator Charles E Schumer has written an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
In the letter, Schumer says: "I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple's innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe its incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner.
"The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called 'death grip' malfunction – such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it – seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.
Last night Apple released an iOS4.0.1 software upgrade intended to ensure the signal strength bars are correctly displayed. We'll bring you coverage of the Apple press conference from 6pm tonight.
Apple is to hold a press conference at 6pm UK time on Friday, July 16th. The company is expected to address the issue of reception problems on the new iPhone 4, outlined below.
Apple has come in for increasing criticism for what is seen as its inadequate response to the problem, and following yesterday's report by the respected US testing organisation Consumer Reports, pressure has been mounting on the Californian company to respond.
A sharp drop in the firm's share price may have helped focus the management's minds.
Speculation is mounting that Apple may be forced to recall its much-hyped, and highly successful, iPhone 4, or at least issue a hardware fix.
A report by the leading US testing organisation Consumer Reports says it cannot recommend buying the new iPhone due to a design flaw with the antenna which adversely affects reception.
The magazine says the reception problems are not software related, as Apple claims, and cannot be fixed with an update.
"When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side, the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal," says Consumer Reports in its blog. "Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4."
The magazine tested three iPhone 4s in a radio frequency isolation chamber, which cuts off outside radio signals, and connected the phones to a special mobile phone tower emulator inside the chamber. It also tested an iPhone 3GS and Palm Pre and found neither had reception issues.
"Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that 'mistakenly displays two more bars than it should for a given signal strength'," says Consumer Reports.
Apple has already said it will offer a free software update within the next few weeks to fix the problem with the way the reception bars are displayed on the phone, making them taller and clearer.
What makes this latest report so damaging is that Apple's shares fell by 4 per cent last night, wiping $9.9bn (£6.5bn) off the company's value.
To date, Apple's only acknowledgement of the issue is a statement it put out on July 2nd.
Read more about reported problems with the Apple iPhone 4 in our earlier News story. We'll be publishing a full review of the iPhone 4 in our September issue, on sale from July 27th.