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App required for free iPhone 4 case

John D. Sutter
Apple doesn't guarantee which type of case iPhone 4 consumers will get. A "Bumper" case is shown.
Apple doesn't guarantee which type of case iPhone 4 consumers will get. A "Bumper" case is shown.
  • To get a free iPhone 4 case, you'll need an app
  • Apple offers free cases to iPhone 4 owners because of reception issues
  • The cases correct an alleged problem with the phone's antenna

(CNN) -- Want to get a free iPhone 4 case?

Don't shoot me for using this overworked phrase, but ... there's an app for that.

In response to an alleged design flaw in its newest phone that causes dropped calls and poor reception, Apple announced last week that it would give consumers a free case that covers the antenna and fixes the issue.

On Friday, the company posted a website that explains how consumers can go about getting that free case.

Turns out, you have to download an app.

Given the iPhone 4's antenna issues, it might be best to do the downloading while the phone's not in your hand (see this story if you don't get the joke).

People who have purchased the iPhone 4 can use the aptly named "iPhone 4 Case Program" app to claim their new case.

The type of case you get is entirely up to Apple, according to the fine print. Also note that if you've already purchased the iPhone 4, you only have until August 22 -- 30 days from now -- to submit a claim. People who haven't purchased the phone yet have 30 days from the date of purchase to claim their cases.

The offer lasts only through September 30, according to Apple.

The company also says it maintains the right to discontinue the free case program without notice.

Some people, including an editor at Consumer Reports, have criticized Apple for not making the free cases available indefinitely, or for not shipping the cases in the boxes of new iPhone 4s.

There's a chance Apple may address the apparent antenna issues in future models.

According to a test by Consumer Reports, the iPhone 4's external antenna can cause calls to be dropped if phone users touch it in a certain spot.

To much internet amusement, the nonprofit group suggested iPhone 4 owners put duct tape over a trouble spot on the phone to help reception.

The cases serve the same purpose as the duct tape, stopping a person's hand from obscuring the cellular signal.

People who have already purchased iPhone 4 cases from Apple will get refunds.

Those who bought the iPhone Bumper case with a credit card should see the cost of the case -- about $30 -- refunded on upcoming statements.

Customers who bought the case with cash or other methods should go to this website to submit their claims, Apple's website says.

Analysts say it is highly unusual for Apple to address any potential flaws in its devices. At least in recent memory, the Cupertino, California, company has enjoyed glowing press and favorable reviews from consumers.

"Antennagate," as the antenna-reception fiasco has been called by bloggers, represents a major hiccup.

Despite the hoopla over Antennagate, however, Apple says the iPhone 4 is its most successful product release to date.


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