Apple rolls out free case program for iPhone 4 owners

CEO Steve Jobs had promised the move last week

As promised last week, Apple today rolled out its free case program for iPhone 4 owners who are having reception problems with the popular new smartphone.

Apple set up a Web page and a specialized iPhone app that tells iPhone 4 owners how to get a free phone "Bumper" or case.

The iPhone 4 Case Program applies to iPhone 4s bought before Sept. 30, and it requires iPhone 4 users to download a special application from Apple's App Store to get the free case. In addition to the rubber Bumpers, which encircle the metal antenna band that surrounds the iPhone 4's outer edge, the app allows users to choose from several plastic cases from third-party vendors.

iPhone 4 owners must sign in with an Apple ID to get access to the case selection, and once a case or Bumper has been chosen, the app no longer allows you to look at the cases. In other words, buyers must choose wisely, as it doesn't appear they'll have a chance to change the order after they make a decision.

Apple says the estimated shipping time for the cases is three to five weeks.

For those who already bought Bumpers from Apple -- they originally sold for $29.99 -- Apple says it is already refunding the purchase price, plus taxes and shipping fees. Customers who bought the Bumpers from an AT&T store must fill out a rebate form ( download PDF ) to get a reimbursement.

Today's move comes a week after Apple CEO Steve Jobs led an unusual -- and hastily called news conference -- to explain why the iPhone 4 appears to have reception problems when held a certain way and to offer free cases to iPhone 4 owners . That event, held at Apple's headquarters last Friday, highlighted reception "problems" of several smartphones , with Jobs stressing that all of them have reception or signal issues of some sort.

Apple continues to highlight antenna performance issues online.

Complaints about the iPhone 4's reception surfaced within hours of its debut, as buyers complained that touching the external antenna -- embedded in a steel band that encircles the case -- often dropped calls or caused the signal strength indicator to plummet. Apple acknowledged that holding the iPhone 4 could weaken the signal, but told consumers to hold their phones differently or buy a case. It also later released an update to the smartphone's operating system that more accurately shows signal strength .

The concerns about the new phone prompted Consumer Reports to warn that it could not recommend the iPhone 4 to buyers .

Despite the P.R. black eye caused by the reception problems -- a Microsoft exec last week compared it to Windows Vista -- Apple officials this week said the company continues to see strong demand for the device, which went on sale on June 24.

Even so, research firm IDC says the brouhaha around reception issues has prompted some current iPhone owners to delay upgrading to the new smartphone .

The iPhone 4 is offered in 16GB and 32GB models for $199 and $299, respectively. And, according to Apple's online store, an iPhone 4 bought today isn't expected to ship for three weeks.

Read more about macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilesmartphonesAppletelecommunicationPhonesconsumer electronicsiphone 4Mobile and WirelessiPhone 4 antenna problems

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

Ken Mingis

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?