Sunday, February 19, 2012

Settlement reached in iPhone 4 "Antennagate" class action lawsuit

The saga of "Antennagate" would seem to be over, now: a settlement has been reached in the class-action lawsuit over the issue, which first came to light soon after the introduction of the iPhone 4 in 2010, when many users claimed --- and posted YouTube videos supporting those claims --- that holding the iPhone 4 in a certain way degraded data and voice signal strength.

As part of the settlement, original iPhone 4 buyers can get either $15 or a new bumper case from Apple. Since original iPhone 4 users could already get a bumper case provided to them for free, earlier, this isn't really that great a settlement, and shows why folks might start adopting the method used by Heather Peters: opt for small-claims court instead of joining a class action.

The settlement comes via preliminary approval made Friday afternoon. The settlement has its own Web site,, which currently is dead, but which will be up and running soon.

Once live, customers will be able to read information about the settlement and how to make a claim. In addition, e-mails will be sent notifying original iPhone 4 buyers about the settlement before April 30, 2012. Once the emails are sent, the claims period will be open for 120 days.

In addition to e-mails to members of the class action, which reportedly number about 25 million, the settlement requires a summary notice of the settlement to be posted in print versions of USA Today and Macworld.

At the time of the incident, users posted videos to YouTube and complaint on numerous forums. Famously, then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs replied to an email from an end user complaining about the issue, telling him he was holding the device wrong. Jobs said, "Just avoid holding it that way."

The most common way to create the degradation in signal strength was to hold the iPhone 4 in such a way that your hand bridged the gap between antennas on the lower left hand side of the iPhone 4. Using a case, even Apple's bumper cases, prevented the issue from occurring, as did, of course, "not holding it that way."

Aside from the Jobs email, Apple did not address the matter for about three weeks, but eventually the firm held a press conference to address what had by then been dubbed "Antennagate." The company showed other phones with similar issues, but customers had complained about the "ease" of creating the degradation vs. other phones.

Apple offered customers full refunds with no restocking fee, or a free Apple-original bumper case or a third-party case from a list of "approved" vendors, an offer it kept running for two months. The company also released an iOS update to change how signal bars were displayed.

Because of the issue, Consumer Reports refused to "recommend" the device, despite its high scores. Apple's iPhone 4S, released in October, was said to be free of the issue, Consumer Reports said.

No comments: