Exec overseeing iPhones exits Apple

Firm mum as to whether Mark Papermaster left voluntarily

CUPERTINO, California -- An Apple Inc. executive whose responsibilities include iPhone hardware is leaving the company in the wake of antenna problems with the newest version of the smart phone.

Apple was forced to offer a free fix after consumers complained and numerous media outlets reported a problem with dropped calls.

Mark Papermaster, Apple's senior vice president of iPhone and iPod hardware engineering, is leaving the company, according to Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.

Dowling wouldn't comment beyond a brief statement or say whether Papermaster was fired or is leaving voluntarily.

Papermaster's departure comes weeks after Apple announced it will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone model to alleviate the so-called "death grip" problem: holding the phone with a bare hand can muffle the wireless signal.
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