eBay sellers capitalize on iPhone 4 antenna problems

Jack up prices of Apple's bumpers, which are in short supply

The uproar over the iPhone 4's call reception, and Apple's suggestion that users slap a case around their new phone, has delayed shipments of the company's own "bumper" casing and driven up prices on eBay.

Reports of call and data signal strength problems in the new iPhone 4 first surfaced last week, but continued to gather momentum Wednesday as the technology site AnandTech published test results that quantified the signal loss, or attenuation, when the iPhone 4 is held in certain ways.

Last week, Apple acknowledged that holding the iPhone 4 may result in a diminished signal that could make it difficult to make and maintain calls or retain a data connection. Among its suggestions: Buy a case .

"Avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases," Apple said in a statement last Thursday.

Apple's recommendation may have resulted in the delivery delays Apple is now reporting for its own "bumpers," a strip of rubber and plastic that fits around the edges of the new iPhone .

According to Apple's online store, the basic black bumper ships in five to seven business days from the time it's ordered. Other colors -- iPhone also sells bumpers in white, blue, green, orange and pink -- won't ship until July 16, more than two weeks away.

Savvy entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the bumper shortage to jack up prices on eBay, with some entries posting prices several times higher than the $29.99 Apple charges.

One eBay entry first noticed by the Apple enthusiast site 9to5 priced a white bumper for $99.99, more than three times Apple's list price .

A search of eBay for "iphone 4 apple bumper" returned more than 80 entries, ranging in "Buy It Now" price from $39.99 to $99.99. As of 4 p.m. ET, one black bumper up for auction had been bid up to $51 .

Some of the listings call out the iPhone 4's signal strength problem as a part of their marketing pitches. A $69 blue bumper , for example, links to a MacRumors.com story about the AnandTech.com study.

Tucker, Ga.-based iPhone case maker and seller Case-mate said sales of its iPhone 4 cases have been brisk, but was unable to tell whether any part of that upswing was due to the antenna issue.

A case is the best way to reduce any signal loss caused by holding the iPhone 4, an antenna expert said today.

"Will a case help? Yes," said Spencer Webb, an antenna engineer with 11 patents to his credit, and the president of AntennaSys , a mobile device antenna design and consulting firm. "Will it solve all the problems? No. But I can't imagine carrying an iPhone without a case."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appletelecommunicationconsumer electronicsMobile and WirelesssmartphonesebayPhonesMacintoshmobile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?