End of iPhone 4 Case Program Seen as Unfair by Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports continues to not recommend Apple’s iPhone 4, despite originally labeling it as the best smartphone out there. The reason? The end of Apple’s free-case program, which allowed every iPhone 4 buyer to opt for a free case to help with the antenna attenuation problems.

“Apple has quietly discontinued its free-case program for the iPhone 4 effective October 1, but says it will still provide a case to the ‘small percentage’ of buyers who will need one due to the phone's "antenna attenuation issue," the consumer buying advice group writes.

In fact, the Mac maker did all but “quietly” discontinue the free case program, as acknowledged by Consumer Reports themselves in the paragraphs to follow.

“In a statement posted to its website on Friday, the company said ‘we now know’ that the antenna issue is ‘even smaller than we originally thought’.”

“Because of the low incidence, Apple says, it's discontinuing the current program, which allows all those who buy an iPhone 4 until September 30 to order a free case for the device.”

Consumer Reports therefore believes that “The offer that takes effect next month is less consumer-friendly in several respects,” and proceeds to outline some of them.

The group specifically mentions that customers looking to nab a case after September 30 will have to call Apple, request a case, and be happy with the single offering available starting then - the original Apple Bumper.

“…where the current program allows owners a choice of seven cases, including some from third-party manufacturers, the new program only offers Apple's own Bumper, a frame-like cover that runs around the edge of the phone,” Consumer Reports emphatically writes.

The group’s Electronics Blog also sees Consumer Reports acknowledge that Bumper cases do the job of improving signal strength, and agrees with Apple that “not all iPhone 4 owners will experience reception difficulties with the device.”

However, the organization notes, “…putting the onus on any owners of a product to obtain a remedy to a design flaw is not acceptable to us.”

Consumer Reports concludes: “We therefore continue not to recommend the iPhone 4, and to call on Apple to provide a permanent fix for the phone's reception issues.”

Visit Apple here to learn how to get your free case (wether you want Apple’s own Bumper or a third-party case) before the offer runs out.

Steps include downloading the iPhone 4 Case Program app from the App Store, signing in using an iTunes Store account or Apple ID and selecting a preferred case model.

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