Home iPhone 4 Antenna Issues? There’s a Free Bumper App for That

iPhone 4 Antenna Issues? There’s a Free Bumper App for That

Apple has just released a new mobile application for owners of iPhone 4 devices who are affected by the widely-reported antenna issues with the newly redesigned handsets. The app, called the iPhone 4 Case Program, will allow qualified customers to apply for a free rubber bumper case directly from their phone.

In a press conference last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs admitted to the problems with the iPhone 4, which now sports an antenna wrapped around the outside of the handset itself. The exec said Apple knew that such a design would cause the bars to drop a bit when the phone was gripped in a certain way, but didn’t think it would be a big problem because all smartphones have this issue.

iPhone 4 is Not Perfect!

Although Jobs’ mea culpa involved demonstrating how other smartphones are also affected by so-called “death grip” issues (special ways of holding a device that reduce its signal strength), it’s clear that consumers – and perhaps Apple itself – hold Apple to a higher standard. After Consumer Reports boldly stated it could not recommend the iPhone 4 to customers, the “antennagate” problem crossed the chasm from being fodder for technology blogs to an issue mainstream consumers began to care about in earnest.

During the press conference, Jobs promised that unhappy iPhone 4 owners would be provided with free bumpers – rubber outer casings that are being sold by Apple (for the first time ever) at $30 apiece. If Apple thought that the antenna issues would work in its favor as a way to earn additional revenue by marking up rubber cases that couldn’t be more than a couple dollars at most to manufacture, it was sorely mistaken. The cases will now have to be written off as a loss.

Free Bumpers for Everyone (for a Limited Time)

Yesterday, Apple began processing refunds for customers who purchased their iPhone 4 bumpers via the online Apple store website, where cases were on backorder due to high demand.

Today, the company has released its own application (iTunes link) to address the remaining lot of unhappy iPhone 4 customers who do not wish to return their phone, but need a bumper case in order to avoid the antenna issues. With the new Case Program app, the software will automatically check various identifiers contained within the iPhone itself, including the IMEI and serial number, to verify that the end user is actually the owner of an iPhone 4.

When eligibility is confirmed, the customer can select an iPhone 4 bumper case, which will then be shipped at no charge.

Interestingly enough, Apple isn’t just providing its own cases via the program, but has also listed cases from third party companies, including Incase, Belkin, Griffin and Speck.

Cases will only be available free of charge until September 30, which makes one wonder whether there’s any merit to the reports stating that the antenna issues have already been addressed within the supply chain. According to Ashok Kumar, managing director and senior technology analyst at Rodman & Renshaw, “Supply chain checks reveal that Apple has instituted a design fix for the iPhone 4 that more adequately insulates the transceiver module.”

Whether or not that’s true, Apple made no mention of it or any other planned hardware fixes during its press conference. Hopefully a better solution beyond free rubber cases is on the horizon, however, for those who decide to purchase an iPhone after the free case deadline is up.

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