Prediction: Apple will begin giving away bumper cases with iPhone 4’s and issue $30 credit for early buyers in the next 2 weeks - Macenstein

Prediction: Apple will begin giving away bumper cases with iPhone 4’s and issue $30 credit for early buyers in the next 2 weeks

When I first heard Gizmodo‘s report that iPhone 4 cell reception was adversely affected by touching the stainless steel band that surrounds the iPhone 4 and serves as the antennae for the device, I was a bit skeptical. The fanboy in me wanted to think that since Gizmodo clearly has a bit of an ax to grind with Apple, they may be exaggerating the claims, or perhaps it was a problem affecting only a select number of handsets. Besides, everyone knows Apple would never sacrifice function over form, so they MUST have tested this design beforehand, right?

Well, one hour after getting my iPhone 4, and THREE dropped calls later (I am one of the rare iPhone customers for whom AT&T service has been rock solid), I began to worry. A quick test of my own revealed that yes, it does indeed appear that depending on how you hold the iPhone 4, and how much of the palm of your hand comes in contact with the sides of the phone, you can definitely see a loss of at least 2 signal bars of service. The problem? Apparently the way I have held EVERY phone since the beginning of time, including the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G, and the iPhone 3G S is “wrong”. It appears I must now hold my iPhone 4 using an idiotic-looking “pinching” motion, using just my thumb and forefinger, on the glass only, and try to make my calls.

Apparently Gizmodo and myself were not the only ones to notice this, as one Rory Sinclair also noticed the problem soon after receiving HIS iPhone 4, and reported the problem to the the big man himself. Steve Jobs’ series of trademarked one-line e-mails should be enough to make even the most gushing of fanboy’s angry (I know I’m kind of pissed):

RORY: So, um, just got my iPhone 4. It’s lovely and all, but this ‘bridge the two antennae to kill your reception’ thing seems to be a bit serious. If I bridge them with my hand or with a piece of metal the bars slowly drop to ‘Searching…’ and then ‘No Service’.
It’s kind of a worry. Is it possible this is a design flaw?
Regards – Rory Sinclair

STEVE:Nope. Just don’t hold it that way.

RORY: “Normally there aren’t limits to how you hold a phone”

STEVE: Sure there are — every phone has these areas of sensitivity, depending on the location of the antenna. Some phones even ship with labels warning customers to not cover certain areas with their hands.

Craig Brockman recieved a similarly “FU-tinged reply when he asked the same question:

STEVE: Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, 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.

So here’s the problem as I see it. None of Apple’s previous phones had these issues (at least that I noticed, or that the media picked up on). Steve Jobs himself is acknowledging the problem (although he acts as though it is not a “problem” per se) and suggests a fix (although he does not call it a “fix”, as that would imply it is a “problem”) is to use a case. He also mentions many companies print warnings to alert customers about these type of “problems” with their phones, although Apple has not done so.

So here’s my prediction. Given that Apple has more or less put all of their eggs in the mobile basket, they need the iPhone 4 to be the media darling it was poised to be, pre-launch. Many iPhone users have long been unable to make phone calls with their iPhones, but the blame for these dropped calls was always laid squarely on the shoulders of AT&T’s apparently sub-par network. However, now that the iPhone 4’s connection problems are clearly the result of Apple’s decision to put a pretty silver band around the iPhone instead of coming up with a design that still allowed the phone to make phone calls, they really have no other choice but to begin offering one of their $30 bumper cases, for free, to all new iPhone customers, and offering a $30 bumper case credit to all existing iPhone 4 customers.

That is, assuming using a bumper case fixes the problem (and in my tests of throwing my iPhone 4 into an ill-fiiting iPhone 3G S silicon case, it appears to). Anything less is asking for a class action suit which will likely end with the same results.

[via TUAW]

15 Responses to “Prediction: Apple will begin giving away bumper cases with iPhone 4’s and issue $30 credit for early buyers in the next 2 weeks”
  1. hello… I have noticed that on my phone aswell and I just got it today!…. I love the phine but do agree that the covers should be given to all iphone customers who at least pre-ordered or reserved. This is very dissapointing… I honestly liked the 3gs design instead of stainless stell but HEY it;s the iphone right?

  2. Kenneth says:

    I hope you’re right, if anything, this is the beginnings of a PR nightmare. Can’t wait for a Droid commercial to mock it.

  3. I seriously want a free bumper. Because I was planning on buying one anyway.

  4. Dylan says:

    Its funny but true, driod commercials aka verizon commercials will result in mocking something like this? I sure hope not for there sake. lets not forget this is running the most succesful OS in the history of phones.

    Just because people cant use this phone the same way they did there plastic one, just simply means they arent willing to adapt to different products.

    When was the last time you used a phone with a friggin metal band around it? Sorry it doesnt work how you hoped, but if it did you would find something else to complain about. Get a case (Bumper), and get a zagg invisishield and your set. I have, and its solid as a rock.

  5. Chris Noble says:

    Some electrical tape would work just fine. Or increasing your resistance somehow…

  6. Dave says:

    Just face it people……….

    ALL your reception-improving bumper cases are belong to us !

  7. Paul says:

    Just get your butler to take and make all your calls. He’s wearing white gloves, right?

  8. Adam says:


    I love the iPhone, MAC, iPad and Apple since the Mac Plus…but definite fail!

    Don’t try to rationalise it…even as Fanboys! which I am one!

    They simply missed a critical fault…should have put that seam on the top or bottom…or coated the metal in something…clear and thin…then as it scratched off…you’d buy iPhone5 beacuse reception was dieing..

    I think I’ll wait…till this is resolved or iPhone5…I shouldn’t have to have a case/bumper!
    Maybe this means quick refresh!

  9. NotTellinYou says:

    Here is a great write up by an antenna specialist that was called for the PC world article but then not quoted cause it didn’t support the crazy spin this has caused:

    I’m not saying you aren’t having the issues you described but I have two iPhone 4’s in my house and can’t get either of them to do what I see in the many videos. My friend with his IPhone 4 commented to me last night that he hasn’t been able to get it to loose signal either.

  10. Frank says:

    No way. Apple will hold their ground on this. They wouldn’t have responded to emails about it if they were nervous/about to change something/give something away.

  11. ObamaPacman says:

    Ordered mine online because store was sold out of bumpers.

    Judging from the problems, bumper should be provided to all iPhone 4 buyers.

  12. Imagine Engine says:


    If Apple’s iOS 4.0.1 update doesn’t fix the battery and reception issues plaguing iPhone 4 customers they will recall the model to fix the issues or face a class action lawsuit.

  13. Risa says:

    I think iPhones in general have a problem with reception. I have heard grumblings about the AT&T network from iPhone users, but I have had AT&T for over 10 years with all kinds of phones including Blackberry, and never had many dropped calls till iPhone.

  14. Justin says:

    They don’t have to recall it, just give those that don’t like a it a refund. It’s not like it’s hurting anyone.

  15. Will says:

    Would be nice if they gave out free bumpers because I already ordered one… BUT, I have not had any problems with my phone losing reception. I picked up two on launch day (one for me sis) and both have no issues. I literally completely covered each corner, no reduction in signal… Not one dropped call. Wonder if this is software issue.

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