Free bumpers for iPhone 4 owners

Apple has insisted, in the words CEO Steve Jobs, that there is no antennagate” in a frank press conference in America tonight – but has confirmed that all iPhone owners who have bought the device or so before September will receive a free Apple bumper.

Jobs insisted that the firm cares about every user. Those who have already bought an Apple bumper will be refunded. Those who have a phone but no bumper will find out shortly how they can apply to receive one.

The exec added that manufacturing that many cases in such a short time will prove a challenge, and stated that Apple will be prepared to give away third party cases if that’s what users want.

However, despite the concession to the scandal that has rocked the tech company in recent weeks, Jobs was adamant in his belief that it’s a case of hype over substance.

Compared to the iPhone 3GS both complaints and returns are down. The complaint rate is running at about 0.55 per cent of all owners whereas returns are tracking at about 1.7 per cent – the iPhone 3GS’ return rate stood at six per cent at this stage in its lifecycle.

He admitted, however, that the number of dropped calls is up – but only by one in every 100 calls made. Jobs isn’t convinced that’s due to design, however. He explained that around 80 per cent of 3GS owners bought a case at the point of purchase. For iPhone 4 that number is only 20 per cent.

According to TechCrunch Jobs also demonstrated that a similar signal-dropping effect can be seen on handsets such as the Blackberry 9700, HTC Droid and Samsung Omnia.

We haven’t figured out a way around the laws of physics – yet," Jobs quipped.

In addition, Jobs confirmed that the White version of iPhone 4 will arrive in key territories before the end of the month. 3m of the devices have now been sold to date.

By all accounts it was a confident performance from Jobs. Whether it will be enough to abate the specialist press remains to be seen, but it’s hard to see how the anti-Apple bandwagon will be able to maintain its recent momentum in light of what appear to be quite conclusive facts.

It does, however, ask serious questions of Apple’s previous claims that it could fix the issue with a software update. Though the worst of antennagate may be over, the damage caused by the PR mess will likely be long lived.

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