Can't wait for your free iPhone 4 bumper? Here's an effective, temporary fix

Can't wait for your free iPhone 4 bumper? Here's an effective, temporary fixThose free iPhone 4 bumpers that solve the problem of allegedly errant antenna reception may not yet be available on the Apple website -- details are coming soon, Apple representatives say -- but if you want to rig up a suitable fix in the meantime, you can do what I did: Use the PixelSkin rubber case manufactured by Speck for the iPhone 3 and 3Gs.

The $24.95 case, which comes in array of smart colors such as spearmint green and sherbet pink, is not a 100% perfect fit for your iPhone 4 -- and it will block the flashlight on your iPhone 4 camera, so take it off for night photography.

But since I've tried this solution, I've noticed no reception problems at all on my iPhone 4. Now in case you think I'm a mindless Mac guy, an iPhone cheerleader or wishfully thinking, keep in mind that I've been a vocal critic of AT&T's wireless service for the iPhone for some time. I've recommended everything from tin cans and string to smoke signal apps as preferable substitutes.

Nor do I claim that this is a fool-proof solution that will work for all -- though as a recording studio owner, I know more than a little about electronics. So necessity the kick-butt motivator it is, I dug up my old Speck case from a junk drawer in my basement and hoped for the best. And behold: The PixelSkin works for me in much the same way that a spare tire works on your car. It's getting the job done until I can get one of those free iPhone bumpers -- and if demand for those is anything like for the iPhone 4 itself, I don't expect I'll be able to order one for at least a month. One month of fizzy iPhone reception? No way.

I stopped in Chicago's Apple Store Tuesday, where a kindly customer service rep told me that he doesn't expect that the bumpers will be distributed at Apple Stores nationwide -- you'll have to order them online. (Bad idea, Apple.) So it was a good thing I still had my Speck case; I ditched it some time ago for my 3Gs after Mophie came out with its "Juice Pack Air," a combination battery and iPhone case.

Ironically, the Mophie definitely hindered my phone reception, even though it extended my battery life. Meanwhile, Mophie says they're working on a new carrying case/battery pack for the iPhone 4. Given the controversy over iPhone 4 reception, and what my Juice Pack Air did to weaken my 3Gs signal, I think I'll pass. (What's more, the micro-USB connection is prone to cracking, so I've had to swap out my Juice Pack several times for free replacements.)

By contrast, my Speck case then is doing me a whole lot of good while I wait for Apple CEO Steve Jobs to get his bumpers in order -- or if you prefer, his rear in gear.
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