Apple Cans iPhone Case Coverage, Consumer Reports Cries

Apple announced on Friday that it would end its free case program for the iPhone 4 on October 1st, and Consumer Reports has issued a statement condemning the move as unacceptable. The magazine iterated its decision to continue to not recommend the iPhone 4 until Apple issues a permanent fix for what it says are reception issues on the device.

Consumer Reports also criticized a provisional extension of the program that will allow customers who buy an iPhone 4 after October 1st and experience problems to still be able to request a free Apple-branded case. It seems that such harsh treatment of its customers is “less consumer friendly” than the full program, which gave consumers their choice of seven different cases.

“Putting the onus on any owners of a product to obtain a remedy to a design flaw is not acceptable to us,” the magazine decreed. “We therefore continue not to recommend the iPhone 4, and to call on Apple to provide a permanent fix for the device’s reception issues.”

Those reception issues occurred for some users when they gripped the iPhone 4 in such a way that they touched a specific part of the outer edge of the case, which caused attenuation issues with the signal, greatly reducing signal strength. The issue became a hot-button one for Apple as it came under fire for the issue, most notably from Consumer Reports.

To address the issue, Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a media event where he said the problem wasn’t as wide spread as media suggested, but that his company was going to address it anyway by giving away free cases that cover the problem area, insulating the iPhone from the user’s conductive skin. that program was originally announced as lasting through September 30th, the day the company said it will now officially end.

On its Web site, Apple said on Friday, “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.”

Consumer Reports reacted to this by condemning the move, criticizing Apple’s lack of supporting data to back up the new claim that the issue affect even fewer people than thoughts, and by criticizing Apple’s continued giveaway to any customer that needs it, a free Apple-branded case.