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Apple to end free iPhone 4 case offer Sept. 30

The iPhone maker says the antenna signal issue that led it to hand out free cases is not widespread enough to justify continuing the program.

Apple will end the free iPhone 4 case program it started in July for most customers by September 30.
Apple will end the free iPhone 4 case program it started in July for most customers by September 30. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

If you have an iPhone 4 and haven't ordered your free case yet, you should soon.

In less than three weeks Apple will end the offer because the antenna signal loss issue related to the iPhone 4's design isn't as big a problem as the company initially thought, according to an update to Apple's Web site Friday.

A posting to the page for the iPhone 4 case says:

We now know that the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought. A small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case, and we want to continue providing them a Bumper case for free. For everyone else, we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010. We are also returning to our normal returns policy for all iPhone 4s sold after September 30. Users experiencing antenna issues should call AppleCare to request a free Bumper case.

In other words, Apple will provide free cases to iPhone 4 users on a case-by-case (no pun intended) basis. Those who experience signal degradation using an iPhone 4 can still get a free case after September 30 through customer service, but there will no longer be an across-the-board offer for a new case, or a refund for purchasing a case, for iPhone 4 owners.

Apple is also reverting to the company's standard 30-day return policy. In July, Apple said that in response to problems with the iPhone 4's antenna, the company would extend its return policy and waive its normal restocking fee.

Apple said when it began the offer that it would "reevaluate" the offer after September 30. The company announced it would hand out free cases to iPhone 4 owners in Julyin response to the outcry over signal issues reported with the phone, unveiled in June. Some customers noticed right away that when held in a certain way, the iPhone 4's signal weakened or disappeared. Apple admitted that the new design of the phone's external antenna did cause an incrementally larger amount of dropped calls than the previous model phone.

Despite the reported signal losses, Apple has still sold the iPhone 4 at a rapid clip. Through mid-July, the company reported 3 million phones sold since June 24. Analyst firm Piper Jaffray expects Apple to sell 11 million iPhone 4s worldwide by the end of the year.