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The iPhone 4 antenna class-action settlement: What it means for consumers

Consumer Reports News: February 23, 2012 11:38 AM

Update: The Apple iPhone 4 Settlement website is now live.

Apple has settled a class-action suit over its iPhone 4 smart phone, agreeing to pay $15 or provide a free bumper case to owners of the phone, which Consumer Reports confirmed had reception problems in 2010 lab tests.

More than 21 million owners of the phones are eligible for the settlement, according to Ira Rothken, the co-lead counsel for the suit, which brought together 18 different lawsuits in to a single action filed in San Jose, CA. The combined suit accused Apple of "misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4—particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software."

Here’s what we currently know about what the suit means for iPhone 4 owners:

  • You'll get the case or the money, but only if you didn’t get a free case earlier. Correction: Despite other reports, "class members who obtained a bumper under the free program are eligible under the settlement agreement to submit a claim form for the 15 dollars," according to Mr. Rothken. In July 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, saying the company was “stunned and embarrassed” by the reception controversy, offered a free case to all owners of the iPhone 4, to alleviate the signal issue. In September 2010, the company ended that program, but it invited iPhone 4 owners who were experiencing problems to contact Apple to request a frame-like Bumper case. Bottom line: If you did receive a case earlier, you can still request the cash, but if you bought the phone from someone who received a case already, you won't be eligible for a claim in the current settlement.

  • Apple will contact owners directly. Original iPhone 4 owners will hear from the company via e-mail as well as through advertising. Apple has till April 30th to notify claimants, who will have 120 days to respond.

  • A settlement website is expected up to be up soon. Apple has set up a Web site (www.iPhone4Settlement.com) that it promised will give prospective claimants more details about the program; at this writing the site is not yet active.

  • Terms of the settlement also require Apple to print a notice of the settlement in USA Today and Macworld. We haven't seen these notices appear as yet.

We will update our coverage as more is known about the settlement.

Sources:
iPhone 4 settlement reached: The Real Deal [News Channel 9 WSYR]
Settlement reached in iPhone 4 antennagate suit [Cnet]
Live blog: Apple gives free cases to iPhone 4 owners [Cnet]

   

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