Apple responds to iPhone 4 antenna bug with free case or refund

LAST UPDATED: 10:28 a.m P.T. -- To all those iPhone 4 users complaining of bad reception, Apple today came out with a consolation prize: A free case or the opportunity for a full-refund.

The Cupertino, Calif., computer and software maker held a rare press conference today at 10 a.m. PT at its headquarters to address the growing flap over spotty reception on its new iPhone 4.

Some customers and product reviewers are complaining that the iPhone 4 can drop calls when held in a certain way that covers the antenna in the lower left corner of the phone. Consumer Reports published a video on its blog this week demonstrating the antenna bug and advised readers that it couldn't recommend the iPhone 4 until Apple fixes the problem.

The issue has caused a major image problem for the technology darling. Leading to today's hastily-arranged press conference. But in In a typical Apple move, it started out the press event with a little self mockery, playing the viral YouTube video The iPhone Antenna Song.

The road to bad reception

Apple released a letter to customers on July 2 admitting that it has been boosting the bars on its iPhone all along to give the impression of better reception. At that time, it downplayed the antenna issue claiming that "gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception by 1 or more bars. This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia and RIM phones," the company said.

The Consumer Reports tests refuted Apple's claims that other phones suffered from the same antenna problem. However, MacWorld's Jason Snell reported live from the press conference this morning that Apple has video of other phones losing reception, including the Blackberry Bold 9700 and the HTC Droid Eris.

Additionally, Steve Jobs said in the press conference that only 0.55% of all iPhone customers have called it's phone customer service AppleCare line with an antenna issue. And return rates for its iPhone 4 are much lower than that of its previous model, MacWorld reported.

The fix

There is a fix to the antenna problem. Covering an area on the lower lift corner of the phone with duct tape or a bumper case prevents reception from being lost. To that end, Apple said it would give every iPhone 4 customer a free case. And if that doesn't satisfy, a full refund.

About the author

Matt Berger is the former Digital Director at Marketplace.

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