eBay sellers capitalize on iPhone 4 antenna problems

Jack up prices of Apple's bumpers, which are in short supply

The uproar over the iPhone 4's call reception, and Apple's suggestion that users slap a case around their new phone, has delayed shipments of the company's own "bumper" casing and driven up prices on eBay.

Reports of call and data signal strength problems in the new iPhone 4 first surfaced last week, but continued to gather momentum Wednesday as the technology site AnandTech published test results that quantified the signal loss, or attenuation, when the iPhone 4 is held in certain ways.

Last week, Apple acknowledged that holding the iPhone 4 may result in a diminished signal that could make it difficult to make and maintain calls or retain a data connection. Among its suggestions: Buy a case .

"Avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases," Apple said in a statement last Thursday.

Apple's recommendation may have resulted in the delivery delays Apple is now reporting for its own "bumpers," a strip of rubber and plastic that fits around the edges of the new iPhone .

According to Apple's online store, the basic black bumper ships in five to seven business days from the time it's ordered. Other colors -- iPhone also sells bumpers in white, blue, green, orange and pink -- won't ship until July 16, more than two weeks away.

Savvy entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the bumper shortage to jack up prices on eBay, with some entries posting prices several times higher than the $29.99 Apple charges.

One eBay entry first noticed by the Apple enthusiast site 9to5 priced a white bumper for $99.99, more than three times Apple's list price .

A search of eBay for "iphone 4 apple bumper" returned more than 80 entries, ranging in "Buy It Now" price from $39.99 to $99.99. As of 4 p.m. ET, one black bumper up for auction had been bid up to $51 .

Some of the listings call out the iPhone 4's signal strength problem as a part of their marketing pitches. A $69 blue bumper , for example, links to a MacRumors.com story about the AnandTech.com study.

Tucker, Ga.-based iPhone case maker and seller Case-mate said sales of its iPhone 4 cases have been brisk, but was unable to tell whether any part of that upswing was due to the antenna issue.

A case is the best way to reduce any signal loss caused by holding the iPhone 4, an antenna expert said today.

"Will a case help? Yes," said Spencer Webb, an antenna engineer with 11 patents to his credit, and the president of AntennaSys , a mobile device antenna design and consulting firm. "Will it solve all the problems? No. But I can't imagine carrying an iPhone without a case."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appletelecommunicationconsumer electronicsMobile and WirelesssmartphonesebayPhonesMacintoshmobile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?