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Jobs: Free Cases and Bumpers For All

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Steve Jobs was in defiant mood in the brief, hastily arranged press conference to deal with the iPhone 4's alleged reception issues. Speculation of free bumpers turned out to be true, but Apple can't make enough of them so will source third party cases that you can choose from. And, if you're still not satisfied, you can return the phone, undamaged, within 30 days. Anyone who purchased a bumper already will get a refund.

That's the good-ish news. Before Jobs announced all this, however, he went out of his way to explain away the problem.

Picture credit: Engadget


Here's a blow-by-blow summary of the Apple argument:

  • All phones suffer a loss of signal when held in a particular way. Apple did tests on the Blackberry Bold 9700, the HTC Droid Eris, and Samsung Omnia, and the bars went down.
  • "Phones aren't perfect"
  • Only 0.55% of users called Apple to complain about reception issues, and the AT&T return rates were lower for the iPhone 4 than the 3GS - 1.7% vs 6%
  • Jobs claims, based on AT&T data, that the iPhone 4 "drops less than one additional call per hundred than the 3GS".
  • Apple quoted, and must therefore tacitly agree with, the Consumer Reports conclusion: "The Bumper solves the signal-stength problem".
So that's the argument, but what to make of it? That Jobs spent most of the presentation defending the iPhone 4's record was no surprise: Apple was never going to lie down and take it. Clearly the dropped call figures, where Jobs was unable to quote the full data, only the "delta", is the most contentious issue. That the iPhone 4 drops more calls than the 3GS at all seems odd considering the new antenna was meant to improve signal quality, but more interesting is the lack of transparency on the data. If it's only one call more per hundred, how many was the 3GS dropping? Moreover, while Jobs was keen to point out that this was an industry wide problem, never did he address the idea that the iPhone 4 suffered more than competing handsets - merely that they can/do have similar problems.

Ultimately, one way or another, Apple has admitted the problem and it has chosen free bumpers as the solution. Are you happy with this? Will you be getting a free bumper, or has Apple fudged the issue further? We'll be sharing our thoughts in due course. In the meantime, let us know what you think.

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