Apple, AT&T hit with lawsuit over iPhone 4 ‘Death Grip’ reception issue

Invisible Shield for Apple iPhone 4!Apple and AT&T have been hit with the inevitable lawsuit over the iPhone 4 ‘Death Grip’ reception issue.

“Filed in federal court in Maryland Wednesday on behalf of a pair Maryland residents who purchased two iPhone 4s each only to find they “cannot be used for the normal purpose and in the normal manner in which such devices are intended to be used,” the class action accuses Apple and AT&T of knowingly selling phones with a defective antenna design,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD. “Evidently ‘just avoid holding it that way’ didn’t go over to well with the plaintiffs who say their iPhone 4s experience significantly reduced reception and performance when handled the way any reasonable person would handle a cell phone.”

MacDailyNews Take: Didn’t go over very well with us, either. Neither do the snide remarks we hear from people who get their information from 5-second sound bites on TV news (“Better be careful how you hold that thing!” “That’s some death grip you’ve got!”) when they should be admiring our shiny new iPhone 4s or staring at them in reverence or, better yet, minding their own business. (The iPhone 4 is a tremendous device and we’d hate to see it get “Newtonized.”)

Regardless of the merits of this lawsuit (return the phone if you don’t like it, there is a grace period), Apple blew this one and they haven’t managed to be able to get ahead of managing the PR crisis, either.

Like we’ve said before, maybe Steve’s grown a bit too soft? If he’s not, he really needs to knock some heads over these constant mistakes. All of these stumbles, some bigger than others, they all add up, Mr. Jobs. And the constant stream of avoidable errors indicates that Apple might be growing too fast and/or employees aren’t trying hard enough anymore. Seriously, nobody at Apple foresaw this rather obvious antenna issue? Why not? Who’s responsible?

Paczkowski reports, “’Plaintiffs were sold defective iPhone 4 units, which drops calls and data service when held in a manner consistent with normal wireless phone use,’ the complaint reads. ‘Plaintiffs have experienced numerous dropped calls, and as a result, Plaintiffs are left with a device that cannot be used for the normal purpose and in the normal manner in which such devices are intended to be used. Plaintiffs are unable to return the phone without incurring a substantial restocking fee. As a result of the defect in the iPhone 4, Plaintiffs have suffered monetary damages. Defendants’ design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, or sale of the defective iPhone 4 has directly and proximately caused all class members to suffer injury.'”

Paczkowski reports, “The suit goes on to accuse Apple and AT&T of a host of misdeeds including: General negligence; Defect in design; Breach of warranty; Deceptive trade practices; Intentional misrepresentation; Negligent misrepresentation; Fraud by concealment.”

Read more in the full article, including the full text of the lawsuit, here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we’ve been saying ever since this issue came to light, “If the iPhone 4 requires a ‘case’ or rubber ‘bumper’ in order to operate properly, then Apple should provide one in every box free of charge.”

Either tell us you can fix it in the software and when you plan to do so, or do the right thing by your customers, Apple, and provide us with cases*. If not, you may well be forced to — and that won’t be good PR, either.

Going forward, of course, you may want to rethink that bare metal and coat it, or portions of it, with a clear non-conductive material. Doing that all along would have saved you some major headaches. Why no Apple engineer insisted on it is beyond us.

In fact, it no longer matters if this is even a real issue. The perception, which Apple failed to manage properly, is that there is an issue. Period. Therefore, the perception must be corrected. Free rubber bumpers for iPhone 4 owners and a statement on the exactly how they’re going to “fix” the issue going forward is along the lines of what it’s going to take to stop this in its tracks.

Lastly, we wonder, did the iPhone 4 leak that was plastered all over Gizmodo and subsequently everywhere else, stunt iPhone 3GS sales to the point where Apple rushed iPhone 4 through testing and onto the market? Because that’s certainly what it seems like to us.

*It’s the principle of the thing, not the measly $29 for a rubber bumper, however overpriced that may be.


  1. Yeah, the firm handling the case calls themselves “injury attorneys”. How are these folks being injured by this? All of these things came to light within a day or two of iPhone 4’s release. First of all, give them a chance to fix it. And second, if you don’t like it then return it or sell it on ebay. I’m sure you”d at least get what you spent back.

  2. If these people really didn’t care for the problem, return the phone, why waste everyone’s time and money with a lawsuit, what does that really accomplish?

    the plaintiffs aren’t going to get doo-doo, other than a bumper if that..

  3. So I’m on my iPhone 4 right now using the MDN App and holding the phone normally and not once did I suffer any harm or injury or reception loss. I have repeatedly done this hundreds of times per day without a problem. This lawsuit is bullspit.

  4. “General negligence; Defect in design; Breach of warranty; Deceptive trade practices; Intentional misrepresentation; Negligent misrepresentation; Fraud by concealment.”

    Wow…these attorneys are really reaching for the stars.

  5. Actually Steve you can return your phone and cancel your contract within 30 days of activation if service is found to be inadequate. Pity that I don’t hear of HTC and Nokia being sued and their smart phones exhibit the same behavior. These people are so stupid because they will never get the remedy they think they deserve. If they choose not to return the phone and the suit is found to have some merit the best they can hope for is some credit towards service from AT&T;or some ITunes credits. The only people that may make some money are the lawyers taking the case. What do you want to bet that the number of people actually experiencing this problem is less than 0.1% of the IPhone 4 population out there. I haven;t heard of any mass returns…have you?

  6. This is not going to be good when describing the merits of the iPhone. Then have to explain an antenna issue. The bumper should correct the issue or problem. The this will hurt sales.

    If for nothing more than doubt.

  7. It is so sad, you have to be shitting right ? Every carrier in US have one month no penalty return policy so what happend hear ? You could only own it for two weeks , go return the thing and go back to your landline! It makes me so sorry for the rest of US

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