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Best Buy rumored to give out free iPhone 4 antenna covers

Electronics retailer Best Buy is rumored to offer free antenna covers for any iPhone 4 owner, with a simple strip that would cover the exterior metal band of the handset.

Citing a number of anonymous sources who confirmed the deal is legitimate, Engadget reported Wednesday that the retailer will give out free invisibleSHIELD 4fix antenna covers, worth about $9.99, to all iPhone 4 owners. That means even those who bought their handset elsewhere, such as direct through Apple or through carrier AT&T, will also be eligible for the promotion.

"Based on a number of tips that we've received, we're getting the impression that the yellow-tagged retailer could be handing out (and installing) completely free side coverings for any iPhone 4 owner that waltzes into a store, presumably as a proactive measure to fend off returns or to upsell consumers on an entire invisibleSHIELD/separate case," author Darren Murph wrote.

The invisibleSHIELD 4fix from Zagg is cut specifically for the sides of the iPhone 4, making it a less bulky option than a complete case for those who want to improve reception on their handset. Promotional materials say that the cover is "independently tested by antenna experts, and proven to enhance reception on the iPhone 4." It also says the material is "military grade" and prevents scratches.

The 4fix is applied in 7 separate pieces that leave space for the volume, vibrate and lock buttons, the SIM card tray, and the port on the bottom of the phone. The accompanying flier says that the promotion for all iPhone 4 owners is limited to one per customer.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that it will give away free cases to every iPhone 4 sold through Sept. 30. Users who download the iPhone 4 Case Program software from the App Store have the choice of a black "bumper" case made by Apple, or a number of third-party alternatives.

The cases are meant to appease customers who are experiencing reception issues with their iPhone 4. The signal on Apple's latest handset can be attenuated by touching the bottom left corner of the device, where the cellular antenna meets the Wi-Fi/GPS/Bluetooth antenna. Bridging the gap between the two metal pieces can result in loss of signal and, in areas of poor reception, dropped calls.

In its defense, Apple has noted that many other phones, including Motorola's latest Droid X, experience signal attenuation when held improperly. It, along with Nokia's N97 and a number of other smartphones, is featured on Apple's official antenna performance page.