Bumper solves iPhone 4 antennas woes, Consumer Reports confirms

Product testing authority calls on Apple to give away $29 'Bumper' case to every iPhone 4 owner (see video, below)

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But today's report from Consumer Reports was the first confirmation of a case remedy from an independent, commercial-quality testing facility.

"The Bumper solves the signal-strength problem," said Reynolds on Wednesday. "So does a piece of duct tape, as we reported earlier, or just being careful how you hold the phone. But these options all put the onus on consumers to solve or pay for a fix."

Tuesday, Mike Gikas, a senior electronics editor at Consumer Reports, called on Apple to make good on the problem, a stance that Reynolds repeated today.

"We insist that Apple pays for the fix, not consumers," said Gikas in an interview with Computerworld on Tuesday. "The best solution would be for Apple to issue a case with the iPhone 4, or give consumers a credit at its online store for one."

Gikas also confirmed that Consumer Reports had been in touch with Apple over the initial testing it reported. "I know we're in talks," Gikas said. "But that's pretty routine. We have talked with Apple in the past over testing results ... we discuss them with all the [cell phone] makers, so this isn't an exception."

Others have said Apple should issue free Bumper cases to current iPhone owners, and to those who purchase the smartphone in the future. Wednesday, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi said the solution would be Apple's least expensive solution.

"We think that Apple's most appropriate response would be for it to issue rubber (or any other non-conductive material) cases to all iPhone 4 owners, and on all new iPhone 4 sales," Sacconaghi said in a note to clients. "It could be done immediately, would directly address the Consumer Reports concern, and would be financially immaterial."

Sacconaghi said that it would cost Apple $1 or less per unit to hand out Bumpers, significantly less than his estimates of $75 per iPhone 4 for an in-store fix or $250 per unit for a full recall.

Currently, Apple cannot keep up with Bumper demand. The basic black Bumper now indicates a delay of five-to-seven business days between ordering and shipping -- the same as two weeks ago -- but the case in other colors won't ship for three weeks after ordering.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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