Apple may be reasonably upfront about the iPhone 4's so-called "death grip" position, where holding the smartphone in the lower-left corner leads to noticeable signal degradation, but that doesn't mean they're going to start "appeasing" users. Despite having suggested that their Bumper cases can address the issue, a leaked internal memo to AppleCare staff makes it very clear that a free case is not on the cards. Instead, employees are supposed to point out that the iPhone 4 has better reception than its predecessors, and that every cellphone has signal issues depending on how you hold it.
BGR were sent the internal document, and whoever wrote it was pretty adamant about not handing out the $29 Bumper accessories willy-nilly. The smartphone's signal problem isn't, it maintains, a matter for warranty service, though if the iPhone 4 is experiencing problems connecting while not being held by its antenna then staff are supposed to escalate it accordingly.
Frankly, it's not exactly surprising that Apple are trying to keep all their support staff on message, but it's disappointing that there isn't a more useful way of addressing the reception problem than saying "either move your hand or pick something up from the accessory rack". If you're still looking for more on the technical issues behind the signal dilemma then Richard Gaywood has a good write-up (though there is a little fruity language, so be warned).
1. Keep all of the positioning statements in the BN handy – your tone when delivering this information is important.
a. The iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped. Our testing shows that iPhone 4’s overall antenna performance is better than iPhone 3GS.
b. Gripping almost any mobile phone in certain places will reduce its reception. This is true of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, and many other phones we have tested. It is a fact of life in the wireless world.
c. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 3GS, avoid covering the bottom-right side with your hand.
d. If you are experiencing this on your iPhone 4, avoid covering the black strip in the lower-left corner of the metal band.
e. The use of a case or Bumper that is made out of rubber or plastic may improve wireless performance by keeping your hand from directly covering these areas.
2. Do not perform warranty service. Use the positioning above for any customer questions or concerns.
3. Don’t forget YOU STILL NEED to probe and troubleshoot. If a customer calls about their reception while the phone is sitting on a table (not being held) it is not the metal band.
4. ONLY escalate if the issue exists when the phone is not held AND you cannot resolve it.
5. We ARE NOT appeasing customers with free bumpers – DON’T promise a free bumper to customers.