Apple to appease iPhone 4 users with free cases

Well, Apple won't be recalling iPhone 4 handsets after all. Steve Jobs held a press conference earlier today about the much-publicized antenna issue, and to paraphrase, his message was essentially this: "The reception issue affects very few users, and other phones have similar problems, but we're going to give out free cases to all iPhone 4 users anyway. Also, Apple rules. Peace out!"

According to Engadget's liveblog of the event, Jobs showed how other devices like the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and the HTC Droid Eris drop bars when gripped tightly. He went on to quote a few key statistics to play down the iPhone 4 issue. Purportedly, only 0.55% of iPhone 4 users have complained to Apple about reception problems, and return rates are actually lower than when the iPhone 3GS came out (1.7% vs. 6%). Jobs did admit that AT&T call drop rates are higher with the iPhone 4, but not by much—less than one more call dropped per 100 calls compared to the 3GS.

Despite the purportedly small scale of the problem, Apple will give out a free case for every iPhone 4 purchased through September 30. (Cases have been shown to alleviate the problem.) Note the word "case" instead of "bumper." Jobs said Apple itself just can't get enough bumpers made, so Apple will source some third-party cases, as well. Folks who already bought a bumper will get a refund, too. Jobs also stressed that unhappy early adopters can take their iPhone 4s back and receive a full refund within 30 days.

In other iPhone 4 news, Jobs took the opportunity to announce that the iPhone 4 will become available on July 30 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and 12 more European countries.

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