Apple to end free iPhone case program Sept. 30

By Reuters
Posted Sep. 10, 2010 at 5:11 p.m.

Apple Inc. said on Friday it will end its free iPhone case giveaway at the end of September, saying the antenna problem was smaller than the company originally thought.

However, Apple said it wanted to continue to provide a free case to the “small percentage of iPhone 4 users” who need one.

Apple announced in July it would provide free iPhone 4 cases to those who requested one, after some users reported reception problems when they handled the smartphone in a certain way.

Even as the company announced the case program, it maintained there was nothing wrong with the iPhone 4 and that reception issues were a problem shared by the entire smartphone industry.

In an announcement on its website on Friday, Apple said it is discontinuing the free case — or bumper — program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, as it had originally planned to do.

“We now know that the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought,” the announcement said. “A small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case and we want to continue providing them a Bumper case for free.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The cases help improve signal strength on the smartphone, experts say, by preventing users from touching certain parts of the iPhone’s antenna, which wraps around the device.

Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple closed up 0.1 percent at $263.41 on the Nasdaq.

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