Apple Offers Free iPhone 4 Cases, Refunds

Apple held a press conference today to address antenna issues of it latest device, the iPhone 4. After many complaints, Apple will be offering iPhone 4 customers a free case or a full refund with no restocking fee.

Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, began the press conference by stating “We’re not perfect, Phones aren’t perfect. We want to make all our users happy.” They have been “working [their] butts off” for the past 22 days, trying to figure out a real solution to the antenna problem.

Other Phones Experience Similar Issues

After pointing out the fact that the same drop in bars exists in many other smartphones, including the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris, and the Samsung Omnia II, Jobs again highlights the fact that “Phones aren’t perfect” and that it is a “challenge for the entire industry.” Apple has recognized that the spot on the bottom left side of the iPhone 4 is the problem area. Below is a chart with the loss in bars by holding the phones the wrong way.

Software Update

Apple claims that they originally screwed up an algorithm which shows signal strength. With the latest iPhone update ( iOS4.0.1 ), this algorithm has been fixed, but they still “haven’t figured out a way around the laws of physics,” meaning users will still see a drop in signal strength when gripping the iPhone 4 without a case.


Apple has been diligently researching the issue. Using its $100 million dollar state of the art testing facility, the company discovered, before the iPhone 4 was released, that the number of bars would decrease when the phone is held a certain way. However, Jobs points yet again to the fact that “phones aren’t perfect.” Despite this issue, Apple has received reports that people are getting better reception with the new antenna system than they have ever experienced before.


Jobs then pointed to statistics regarding how many people called AppleCare with antenna/reception related issues. Only 0.55% of iPhone 4 customers contacted Apple regarding this issue. Also, AT&T only saw a 1.7% return rate of early shipments, which is extremely low when compared to the iPhone 3GS, which saw a 6% return rate. Finally, Jobs points to the fact that the iPhone 4 only drops 1 more call per 100 calls than the iPhone 3GS.

The Solution

Transitioning to Apple’s solution to the antenna/reception issue, Jobs states:

“Now when we look at this data, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem, but that problem is affecting a very small number of users. I get emails saying the phone works perfectly, and they can’t understand what this is all about. So we think it’s affecting a small batch, but it has to do with inherent problems in smartphones. But we want all of our users to be happy.”

The first part of the solution is already available, in the iOS 4 update. This update fixes the way that the bars are reported, as well as other bugs. Then, citing Consumer Report’s statement that “the Bumper solves the signal-strength problem”, Apple will be providing a free case to all iPhone 4 customers. Because they cannot produce enough Apple iPhone 4 Bumpers this quarter for every iPhone 4, Apple will compile a list of alternative cases for customers to choose from. This list will be up on Apple’s website later next week.  Also, for everyone who purchased a Bumper case, Apple will be offering a refund. These offers will be available for every iPhone 4 purchased through September 30th. The final part of the solution is a full refund for all undamaged iPhone 4s returned within 30 days of purchase.

Other News

Jobs covered the Proximity sensor issue, which should be remedied with the next software. The white iPhone 4 will begin shipping at the end of this month.

There is no recall, as some people speculated. However, Apple is planning on taking care of its customers, despite the fact that many other phone exhibit the same reception issues as the iPhone 4.

Via Images via Engadget

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