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Apple: Free Cases for All

Apple is going to offer every iPhone 4 user a free case until September 30th and won’t charge users a restocking fee if they are unhappy with their iPhone 4 purchase. Apple made this announcement at a small press conference on the company’s Cupertino, California campus today. The press conference started with an admission from Apple CEO Steve Jobs that Apple is “not perfect. Phones are not perfect. But we want to make all our users happy.”

Key Quotes from Steve Jobs:

“This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect.”

“X marks the spot. You know exactly where to hold it.”

“The data says the issue has been blown so far out of proportion, it’s incredible.”

To the press: ” I wish we could have done this in the first 48 hours, but then you wouldn’t have had so much to write about.”

How to Get Your Free Case

Apple will send every iPhone 4 owner a free case. Starting next week, users will be able to apply for a free case on Apple’s website. Jobs also acknowledged that Apple can’t make enough bumpers to satisfy demand, so it will source cases from other vendors as well. If you bought a bumper from Apple, the company will issue a refund. Apple will not, however, offer refunds to users who bought third-party cases.

Jobs: Every Smartphone has the Same Antenna Problem

Jobs noted that only 0.55% percent of Apple’s customers have called the company’s customer service line to complain about issues with the iPhone 4’s reception, and that Apple is seeing lower return rates for the iPhone 4 than during the iPhone 3GS launch. During his presentation, Jobs also argued that the iPhone 4’s antenna issues are not unique and can be found in almost every modern smartphone on the market.

Apple has sold over 3 million iPhone 4s over the last three weeks. The white version of the iPhone 4 will ship at the end of July.

iPhone 4 Drops Just as Many Calls as the 3GS

The press conference opened with the iPhone Antenna song. After this, Steve Jobs noted that Apple loves “making our users happy.” According to Jobs, Apple has known about this issues since the iPhone 4 launch. Jobs, however, also argues that this problem isn’t unique to the iPhone 4. Other phones, including the Blackberry Bold and HTC Droid Eris, see similar drops when the phones are held in a specific way. According to Jobs, “This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect.” Based on AT&T’s data, iPhone 4 users are seeing roughly about the same number of dropped calls as iPhone 3GS users. The receptions issues with the iPhone 4, according to Jobs, have been “blown so far out of proportion, it’s incredible.”

Jobs also noted that only 20% of iPhone 4 are currently using cases, while about 80% of iPhone 3G and 3GS users bought a case for their phones. This, said Jobs, could be the reason why more users are now reporting problems with their receptions.

Apple, according to Jobs, has 17 anechoic chambers and invested over $100 million in its antenna-testing facilities over the last five years. The company has 18 PhD scientists and engineers on staff who are working on the design of these antennas.

Overall, Apple clearly tried to downplay the issues with the iPhone’s antenna during today’s presentation. During the Q&A session after the presentation, Jobs also lashed out at the press. Specifically, he argued that this story has been blown completely out of proportions and the the New York Times (and others) “are just making this stuff up.”

How it All Started

The antenna issue went undetected during the first round of reviews before the new iPhone’s launch, but users (including this author), quickly noticed these problems after they received their phones. Since then, Apple has launched an update to the iOS operating system that changes how the software calculates the number of signal bars. According to most pundits, the new method gives users a more realistic view of their iPhone’s actual signal strength. This fix, however, did not alleviate any of the antenna issues that iPhone 4 users have reported.

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