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Apple to halt bumper case giveaway, problem "smaller than thought"

Apple will stop its free case programme on 30 September, as promised. If you're still suffering problems, it promises to supply one, but it claims the problem isn't that common.

Apple will stop giving away free cases for the iPhone 4 on 30 September 30, stating that the highly publicised antenna death grip problem was "even smaller than we originally thought". But it will still provide a bumper to anybody who needs it.

The company has skilfully turned a potential PR disaster into a 'get a free bumper or case with an iPhone 4' promotional tool, with the suggestion that most of the people getting a free case didn't need it. But Apple did promise that anybody still experiencing issues after the 30 September cut-off date could still request a free bumper or case by calling AppleCare.

If you want a free bumper or case, whether or not you're suffering issues, download and launch the free case programme app (iTunes link) on your iPhone and select a bumper or other case of your choice. If you bought a case from Apple before 30 September, you should have received a refund.

The original antenna problem was due to a problem with the design of the iPhone 4 which meant holding the device in a certain way -- in your left hand, essentially -- caused it to lose signal. There were rumours that it could be bad enough for a recall, but instead the design was kept and cases offered to solve the problem.

It's not the only issue to hit the iPhone 4. We're still awaiting a white version of the device months after it was first released, and if Orange is right we might not see it before Christmas.

But despite all these problems, the iPhone 4 has been a huge success for Apple, just like previous versions. And we love it, awarding a five-star rating (though you disagreed, only giving it three stars on average), feeling it's still a step ahead of its rivals. And it had to, with new devices from the likes of HTC, Nokia and RIM expected very soon, and the launch of Windows Phone 7 to come.

So has Apple got out of jail with the free case giveaway? Is the iPhone 4 an inherently flawed device? Or was it all a storm in a Cupertino?