How to get your free iPhone 4 case

Yep, as many predicted, Apple has decided to give every iPhone 4 user a case – be it one of Apple’s Bumper cases or a third-party iPhone case – in the hopes of stamping out complaints of reception problems. Details on how to get your free case are still a bit sketchy, but here’s what we know so far.

First, a few preliminaries. During his iPhone 4 briefing for the press Friday, Steve Jobs noted that Consumer Reports, among other sources, had concluded that a case – such as Apple’s $29 Bumper – would “solve” iPhone 4 reception problems by covering the stainless steel band that acts as the new iPhone’s antenna.

While he vigorously defended the iPhone 4’s antenna design and called the new iPhone “perhaps the best product we’ve ever made at Apple,” Jobs said he’d heard the suggestion “from a lot of people” that Apple hand out free cases.

“OK, great,” Jobs said with a resigned smile. “Let’s give everybody a case.”

Specifically, Jobs promised that not only will every iPhone owner get a case, but that those who already bought one of Apple’s Bumpers (although not a case made by a third-party manufacturer) would get a refund for said Bumper.

Jobs said Apple wouldn’t be able to churn out enough of its new Bumper cases fast enough for every current iPhone customer, so users will get a “choice” of other iPhone 4 cases designed by third parties.

Meanwhile, Apple will deliver a free case with every new iPhone sold through Sept. 30, at which point Apple will decide whether to continue with the free cases or go with “a better idea.”

All right, so you bought an iPhone 4 and you want your free case, or you want a refund for the Bumper you already bought. Where do you get one?

Well, don’t head down to the nearest Apple store quite yet. Jobs said that Apple will start taking applications for free cases – either an Apple Bumper or a different brand of case – on its website starting next week. (Presumably, those of us who already have Bumper cases will be able to apply for a refund, as well.)

I’ll be one of those applying for a Bumper refund, given that I bought one the day I purchased my iPhone. The plastic-and-rubber case fits around the edge of the iPhone 4, completely covering the stainless steel antenna band that’s the focus of whole “death grip” saga.

And yes, the sturdy little Bumper seems to do the trick, even in my weak signal-area apartment. If I take the Bumper off and touch the little gap on the lower-left side of the iPhone’s antenna band, my reception problems return.

So, iPhone 4 users, will you be signing up for a free case?

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