“It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal,” Mike Gikas reports for Consumer reports. “Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”
Gikas continues, “We reached this conclusion after testing all three of our iPhone 4s (purchased at three separate retailers in the New York area) in the controlled environment of CU’s radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber. In this room, which is impervious to outside radio signals, our test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4. Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4’s signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that “mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”
“We did, however, find an affordable solution for suffering iPhone 4 users: Cover the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or another thick, non-conductive material. It may not be pretty, but it works,” Gikas reports. “We also expect that using a case would remedy the problem. We’ll test a few cases this week and report back.”
MacDailyNews Take: “We’ll test a few cases this week and report back,” but not until we milk this for all it’s worth. They already had iPhone 4 test units in their big bad “controlled environment radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber,” but they couldn’t test iPhone 4 in a few cases while they were at it? Puleeze.
Gikas continues, “The signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone 4 as a ‘recommended’ model, even though its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest Ratings of smart phones that were released today. The iPhone scored high, in part because it sports the sharpest display and best video camera we’ve seen on any phone, and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller. But Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4.”
Full article here.
AppleInsider reports, “The latest update from Consumer Reports is a 180-degree change from what it advised users earlier this month. In that report, the company noted that there was “no reason” to not buy an iPhone 4. The company said, at the time, that they were unable to recreate the signal loss issue.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Whatever. So, Apple will sell approximately eleven less iPhone 4 units to Consumer Reports’ geriatric subscribers (CR ought to be testing Jitterbugs, not smartphones). Using Consumer Reports as a basis for tech buying is like using Windows for color-sensitive print work. It’s something only attempted by the ignorant.
So, bottom line: Consumer Reports finds iPhone 4 superior to all other smartphones in most respects, but because you need a case for it if you’re going to cover the antenna while holding it a certain way — a case, by the way, that’s something most people add to their phones regardless — Consumer Reports won’t recommend it, at least until they milk as much free pub out of their “non-recommendation recommendation” as possible. For more, please read: Consumer Reports: Oh yeah, almost forgot, Apple iPhone 4 is also the best smartphone on the market – July 12, 2010.
Why do we get the feeling that Consumer Reports PR employees’ day jobs are at Greenpeace? They both seem to have the same modus operandi: Use Apple to gin up free publicity.
All that said, as we’ve stated consistently: If the iPhone 4 requires a case or a hardware “fix” of some sort, then Apple should provide one free of charge to every iPhone 4 owner.