September 11, 2010 / 12:58 PM / 9 years ago

Apple to end free iPhone case program September 30

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - 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.

A man uses an iPhone 4 to take a picture in New York's Times Square July 16, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

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

Apple announced in July it would give iPhone 4 cases to anyone who requested one, after some users reported reception problems.

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.”

Users experiencing antenna problems should contact the company to receive a case, Apple said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the statement on its website.

After the June 24 launch of the iPhone 4, some users reported drastically reduced signal strength when they held the touch-screen phone a certain way.

The issue snowballed and turned into a public relations nightmare for the company.

Apple was forced to call a news conference to address the issue in July, where Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the problem had been blown out of proportion, but issued the free case offer.

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.

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

Reporting by Gabriel Madway; editing by Andre Grenon

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