The antenna issues surrounding the iPhone 4 prompted an uncharacteristic response from Apple. Not only did they acknowledge the issue, but they even went so far as to offer free iPhone 4 Bumpers to all affected consumers. Moreover, they gave iPhone 4 owners up to 30 days to return their device without incurring a restocking fee.
When Steve Jobs first announced Apple’s solution to “antennagate”, he said that the free bumper program would last until the end of September, at which point Apple would re-evaluate the situation and make a decision from there. And now that we’re smack dab in the middle of September, Apple recently updated its iPhone case program webpage and announced that the program will officially be coming to an end on September 30.
We now know that the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought. A small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case, and we want to continue providing them a Bumper case for free. For everyone else, we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010. We are also returning to our normal returns policy for all iPhone 4s sold after September 30. Users experiencing antenna issues should call AppleCare to request a free Bumper case.
A return to Apple’s normal return policy means that iPhone owner now have only 14 days to return their device and will incur a 10% restocking fee.
For anyone who caught Steve Jobs’ “antennagate” presentation, it was clear that Apple was of the mind that iPhone 4 reception problems were overblown. Apple made a point of demonstrating that signal attenuation occurs on all smartphones (both during Jobs’ presentation and on Apple’s website), and Jobs noted that only .55% of iPhone 4 users had called AppleCare about antenna related issues. Moreover, Jobs stressed that the return rate for the iPhone 4 was less than 1/3 of the return rate of the iPhone 3GS.
In any event, Apple’s hand was forced, a free bumper program was put in place, and that program will now be coming to an end on September 30.