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]