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Apple Settles ‘Death Grip’ Claims Over IPhone 4

SAN JOSE (CN) - A federal judge approved a settlement to class action claims that holding their 4G iPhones by the bottom left corner caused a "death grip" for cellular service.

The customers can receive a $15 cash payment or a free "bumper" for their phones based on the terms of the settlement.

Between June and September 2010, there were 16 federal class actions filed against Apple across the country. A master consolidated complaint was filed in February 2011.

In an action in California's Northern District, named plaintiff Alan Benevisty said he experienced a "widely reported issue" - his iPhone dropped signals if his palm covered the bottom left corner of the device.

Benevisty demanded class damages for fraud, false advertising and breach of warranty.

"Apple CEO Steve Jobs extolled the iPhone 4 in the keynote address at the Worldwide Developers conference on June 7, 2010, stating, among other things, that the iPhone 4 is 'the most precise thing we have ever made' and its 'brilliant design' has 'integrated antennas right in the structure of the phone; it's never been done before and it's really cool engineering,'" according to the complaint.

But despite Apple's claim that loss of reception was a "non-issue" and that users should "just avoid holding it that way," the "cool engineering appears to be the problem."

After selling 1.7 million of the phone in its first three days on the market, Apple told its customers to "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," according to the complaint.

Benevisty said "it comes as no surprise" that Apple would recommend users buy a case to resolve the "death grip" issue, because Apple makes the cases or "bumpers," which it sells for $29.

Apple allegedly knew of the signal degradation problem, as it made the "bumpers" available on the day the product was launched.

Though Apple disputed the class allegations, it entered into a settlement and did not admit any wrongdoing.

Based on the terms of the agreement, eligible class members can receive a $15 cash payment or a free bumper for their phones.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte conditionally certified the settlement class Friday and preliminarily approved the agreement, finding it "fair, reasonable and adequate."

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