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Apple settles class action suit over iPhone 4 antenna woes

updated 11:55 pm EST, Fri February 17, 2012

iPhone 4 owners can claim bumper, cash in lawsuit

Apple finished the week by agreeing to a settlement (active in the next few weeks) over the iPhone 4's antenna issues. US customers who were unhappy with the antenna performance of the smartphone will have the option of getting either a free bumper case or $15. Owners will have up to 120 days to make a claim, starting from April 30, and will be both e-mailed in advance as well as given notices in Macworld and USA Today to make sure they can take advantage of the compensation.

The settlement is the result of a class action that merged 18 different lawsuits. All of them had argued that Apple hadn't disclosed the iPhone 4's "death grip" problem, which dropped the data and voice signals to at times very low levels if the user covered the external antenna gap on the left side, bridging the cellular and Wi-Fi antennas in a way that hurt the signal. Apple offered its own free bumpers at the time and may have limited the impact of the settlement.

The issue ended up being overblown in perception relative to its actual impact, although it may have contributed to Mark Papermaster's exit from Apple as well as competitors' ads. Apple eventually fixed the problem permanently with the iPhone 4S, which uses a dual antenna system that switches if the owner's hand attenuates the signal in one area.

The lawsuit's conclusion comes with an unusual connection to a much more recent case as one of the core attorneys representing the class, Ira Rothken, is defending Megaupload against US government piracy allegations. [via CNET]

by MacNN Staff



  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The only people who benefit from this is the lawyers....

  1. Thecombinationis12345

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title


  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I wonder if the morons ...

    who started this case are happy with the millions of nothing they got out of it (except for the lawyers who will often get tens of thousands of dollars for each person they enrolled in the lawsuit while the "victims" get almost next to nothing). Often I get 'results" like this in the mail which aren't worth the postage stamp to send in and pick up ten or twenty bucks. This practice should be outlawed.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What matters is -

    That Apple learned a lesson in antenna design applied the following model.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A settlement for lawyers

    Other commenters are right. Settlements like these typically do more to enrich lawyers than to help those allegedly harmed.

    Back when there was a lawsuit alleging (correctly) that the early versions of OS X ran poorly on low-end models that Apple had promised would run it, I had two of those models and looked into what I could 'get' from the settlement. The hassles were so great and the return for my time was so pitiful, I'm not sure I'd have earned the minimum wage for the time it would have required.

    As the winning party, the lawyers who filed the settlement were probably getting to bill Apple for their time at $300-400 an hour, while the settlement they 'won' for us would have earned us perhaps $3-4/hour for our time.

    In the end, I didn't bother. I hadn't bought those two Macs to run OS X anyway, so I wasn't surprised that they didn't work well. And I actually thought about writing the judge, suggesting the award the lawyers who'd come up with that dreadful settlement with a token payment of say $1.

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