February 17, 2012, 10:15 PM — iPhone 4 owners in the U.S. can get a US$15 check or a "bumper" phone case from Apple in a class-action settlement that won preliminary approval from a judge on Friday.
The settlement will go up for final approval in July, but the period for consumers to make claims is scheduled to start April 30, said Ira Rothken of the Rothken Law Firm, the co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case. The period will last 120 days. Anyone who bought an iPhone 4 in the U.S. before Friday can file a claim. A website for filing claims should be up soon at iphone4settlement.com, Rothken said.
Apple came under fire soon after the launch of the iPhone 4 in June 2010 when test results were disclosed indicating that holding the phone in certain ways degraded its reception. "Bumper" cases that covered the edge-mounted antennas seemed to solve the problem. In an episode that came to be called "Antennagate," critics blamed the problem on a new antenna design introduced with the redesigned phone. At a press event the following month, Apple said the problem wasn't unique to its phone and offered free bumper cases through September of that year. It also modified the way coverage bars were displayed on the phones.
The class action is a consolidation of 18 different cases, which were brought together before Judge Ronald Whyte of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in San Jose. Rothken estimated there are more than 25 million potential members of the class in the suit.
A final approval hearing is set for July 13. If the settlement wins final approval, buyers who have filed claims should get their bumper cases or $15 checks soon after that hearing, Rothken said.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.