Apple is calling a special press conference on Friday to talk about the iPhone 4. The company hasn’t said what the topic is, but it’s a good bet that it’s about the reception problem that the new phone has when it is held a certain way.

Apple hasn’t addressed the issue head on, except to say it was issuing a software fix to deal with the fact that the phone doesn’t display the correct number of reception bars on the screen. The call for a recall began on Monday after Consumer Reports said that it found reception problems in the phone and could not recommend it. It’s very rare for Apple to call a last-minute press conference. But it remains to be seen if the company can mollify the critics by issuing free rubber cases for the phones, which could reduce the reception problem. Consumer Reports said today that the rubber case, called a bumper, helps solve the problem.

Today, Apple released the first beta of the iOS (iPhone operating system) 4.1 software. It fixes the signal strength indicator, but it does not fix the antenna issue. As we noted earlier today, a Microsoft executive described the iPhone 4 as Apple’s Vista. It’s a big problem, but it could always be worse. In our online poll launched this morning, there are more votes for a recall at the moment.