iPhone 4 case: Still free, but not for much longer

iPhone 4 case offer won't be extended past Sept. 30.

iPhone 4 cases are only free through the end of September. After that, you'll have to buy your own iPhone case.

In mid-July, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple would refund consumers who purchased bumper cases for their iPhone 4 handsets and issue free plastic bumper cases to everyone else. (Well, anyone who bought an iPhone 4.) "We're not perfect, and phones aren't perfect either, but we want to make all of our users happy," Jobs said, acknowledging the mess left in the wake of the Death Grip flap.

Yeah, about that. Turns out that Apple has quietly discontinued its free case program, noting that "the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought." In a statement posted to the site, Apple said that users who buy an iPhone 4 before Sept. 30 will still be eligible for a free case. In addition, users who have antenna problems after that date can call AppleCare and haggle for a free case.

But "for everyone else," Apple reps wrote, "we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010." So listen – if you've been lazing around, waiting to buy an Apple iPhone 4, and telling yourself you'll get to it sooner or later, well, now you have some incentive to march yourself to the nearest Apple store.

Of course, if you buy an iPhone 4 after Sept. 30 – and you don't want to pay the extra cash for a bumper case – you could always follow the lead of a few hardy consumers, and strap a yellow LiveStrong bracelet around your handset. As we noted earlier this summer, the LiveStrong bracelet works in exactly the same way as the bumper case, by adding some extra dampening to the external antenna. Then again, so does electrical tape.

Problem solved.

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