Rubber Baby iPhone Bumpers: Apple Awards Handgrips For Grumpy iPhone Users

Jobs wasn't exactly apologizing at the much-anticipated iPhone conference today, but he did acknowledge that the iPhone 4's reception problem when gripped a certain way. An actual hardware fix may or may not be in the works; according to Jobs it's impossible to redesign the antenna without also marring the phones aesthetic.

"We're not perfect," Jobs told reporters. "Phones aren't perfect either," adding "but we want to make all of our users happy...It's very hard to escape the conclusion that there is a problem," Jobs said, "but that problem is affecting a very small percentage of our users."

The conclusion that the problem is only affecting a small number of iPhone users (0.55 percent) rests on the assumption that every user with a problem is calling in and reporting it / complaining about it to Apple. Early on, this might have been the case, but with all the coverage of the issue over the last few weeks, it's entirely possible that users have simply looked online and found everything they needed to know. AT&T claims that their dropped-call analysis only shows a 1 percent difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS, but this is impossible to validate without more information.

We reviewed (and liked) the iPhone 4, even if it had problems.

We don't know if AT&T filtered by signal strength; with a full five bars of signal, the iPhone 4 should still maintain a phone call even if held in the left hand. There's also no apparent way AT&T could have controlled for which hand the iPhone 4 was being held in. The majority of people (70-90 percent) are right-handed; no one who held the phone in their right-hand experiences this problem. Southpaws presumably began holding their phones off-handed as well as news of the problem spread.

Apple's lousy justification aside, the company will award full refunds for bumpers purchased prior to September 30. If you aren't happy with the iPhone 4 and want your money back, Apple will also accept returns while waiving the normal restocking fee. It's as reasonable a response as anyone could have hoped for, even if we had to suffer through a round of corporate high-handedness as Apple explained to world+dog that we were all holding our phones the wrong way. We might also owe a thank you to Consumer Reports, as it was the pointed lack of a recommendation that led Apple to schedule a press conference in the first place.

Now that Apple is offering both free bumpers and full refunds, the growing edge of hysterical hype (and the ridiculous phrase "antennagate" will hopefully fade into the ether as abruptly as they arrived. After a few weeks of jabs, mockery, counterattack, and a software update that the company admitted provided nothing in the way of an actual solution, we'll all have to find something else to talk about. Presumably Consumer Reports will also address Apple's stated solution by the time the next issue goes to print, the iPhone will likely get the nod it was denied this time.