Picture taken by Adam Tow at a 2010 Apple press conference.
Shortly after the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010, users reported that the phone would lose reception when held tightly, due to the externally-mounted antenna. The tiny design flaw from a company renowned for superior design (and corresponding higher price) threw hipsters and gadget nerds into a tizzy, posting angry YouTube videos and photoshops (like the one to the right) making fun of the design flaw.
Apple waited three weeks to respond to “Antennagate.” At the press conference they pointed out only 0.55% of users had called to complain of the issue and that the problem could be eliminated by using a bumper case. Unfortunately, they were sold out of bumpers already and wouldn’t have more for awhile (and not everyone knows how to make one out of knockoff Livestrong bracelets). Instead, they offered full refunds on iPhone 4 returns and a free case (via third party sellers) for users who requested one within two months. Somewhat hilariously, they also offered a software update which changed how the bars were displayed so they showed better reception; it didn’t actually give the phone better reception but, hey, more bars! The iPhone 4S was released last October and did not have the same flaw when tested by Consumer Reports.
Predictably, 18 different class action lawsuits were filed. These have been consolidated and an overall settlement has been reached. U.S. residents who bought the iPhone 4 can receive a free bumper case or $15 cash.
The settlement has its own Web site, www.iPhone4Settlement.com, which will be up in the coming weeks (the site doesn’t go anywhere right now). There, customers will be able to get information about the settlement and how to make a claim. As part of the arrangement, e-mails will also be sent alerting original buyers to the settlement before April 30, 2012. The claims period is then open for 120 days. [CNET]
Ira Rothken, the co-lead counsel for the class, told CNET that 25 million people are eligible for the case or cash. The settlement requires that a notification email be sent to those class members and that the summary notice be printed in USA Today and Macworld. The most surprising part of this news? That print versions of USA Today and Macworld still exist.