Apple gives out free cases to fix iPhone 4 signal issue

Apple will give iPhone 4 users free cases to address the problem with the phone's antenna causing dropped calls.

During a press conference at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., chief executive Steve Jobs downplayed the problem but said Apple will provide all users with free cases until September 30. Users who have already purchased a case will receive a refund.

Earlier this week Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 after finding a problem with the metal antenna surrounding the device that leads to dropped calls. Apple acknowledged the issue and said it can be addressed by adding a case, which it will provide to all customers free of charge.

The cost of issuing the cases is expected to be about $45 million according to CNBC, significantly less expensive than issuing a recall. Jobs said Apple does not have enough cases to meet the demand so it will source them from other companies and offer customers their pick of a range of options.

Jobs sought to portray the antenna problem as one common to all smartphones, not something specific to the iPhone 4. He said the iPhone 4 drops less than one additional call per hundred than its predecessor the iPhone 3GS, which had similar issues with its antenna. He called the iPhone 4 perhaps the best product Apple has made and said less than 0.55 percent of users have complained about reception.

"There is no Antennagate," Jobs said. He said Apple was only made aware of the issue 22 days ago and denied a report from Bloomberg that he was personally notified of the problem by a senior antenna engineer at the firm.

Jobs said the Apple update to the operating system for the iPhone 4 on Thursday was designed to address an issue with the signal strength bars. He also announced Apple will be introducing the phone in 17 new countries starting July 30 and said a limited edition white version should ship at the end of the month.