Consumer Reports continues harping on iPhone 4 attenuation issue

iphone 4 casesIn a new blog post, Consumer Reports states, “In our reporting and a video yesterday, we made the point that the signal drop that iPhone 4 customers have observed when they hold their phones the ‘wrong’ way is real—and we’ve called on Apple to do something about it. In an earlier statement, the company noted that attenuated performance is a ‘fact of life’ for every wireless phone. Apple suggested owners mitigate the problem by holding the phone differently or purchasing a case. But those solutions put the onus on consumers and skirt Apple’s obligation to offer a product that works consistently and reliably out of the box.”

MacDailyNews Take: Quoting purported emails vs. Apple’s official statement is disingenuous, at best, Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports states, “We think it’s the company’s responsibility to provide the fix—at no extra cost to consumers. Our tests, conducted in our labs using controlled signals, confirm growing anecdotal indications that the iPhone 4’s problems are anything but illusory. Our tests found that when your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing to do—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. We tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the significant signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.”

MacDailyNews Take: Consumer Reports’ iPhone 4 “tests” are crap. Please read: Electromagnetic engineer: Consumer Reports’ iPhone 4 study flawed – July 13, 2010. And, oh-by-the-way, Apple has already stated that they “will issue a free software update within a few weeks.” That means “at no extra cost,” Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports states, “Ironically, aside from these reception glitches, our other tests placed the iPhone 4 atop the latest Ratings of smart phones. But we did not feel comfortable listing a phone with such a problem as ‘recommended,’ and therefore have withheld that tag.”

MacDailyNews Take: Consumer Reports is a joke read by a rapidly-dying demographic. They ought to stick with crock pots, adult diapers, and support hose; things that are easy to evaluate and are of keen interest to their readership. Perhaps this stick jammed sideways in Consumer Reports’ orifice is some attempt to ride Apple’s coattails in an appeal to demographic that’s younger than dirt before they run out of gullible subscribers who actually believe that Consumer Reports’ “tests” and “ratings” regarding audio systems, electronics, computers, and God-knows-what-else aren’t absolutely meaningless drivel?

Consumer Reports states, “Our stopgap fix for the issues of applying duct tape to the phone—while inexpensive and easily done—obviously isn’t meant to be a permanent solution. The real fix, we believe, should come from Apple. The company has said it will issue a software update that will make the phone’s bars more accurate, though it remains to be seen if fixing metering inaccuracies will address the problem of dropped calls. The company will also provide a full refund to users who return their iPhone within 30 days. But for those who prefer to keep their iPhone, we encourage Apple to step forward soon with a remedy that fixes the confirmed antenna issue, and not one that requires additional consumer expense.”

Consumer Reports blog post is here.

MacDailyNews Take: Consumer Reports should learn how to conduct proper scientific tests and fix their laughable rating “system” before recommending anything. Again, 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.

Although Consumer Reports hasn’t seemed to notice, Apple has already plainly and clearly stated: “If you are not fully satisfied, you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.” Apple’s customers, therefore, do not require some anachronistic rag to oh-so-bravely stand up for them, thanks.

So, what’s the real impetus behind Consumer Reports’ assholish crusade? Money? Stupidity? Hubris? What?

As we’ve consistently stated numerous times already: 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. The operative word is “If.” Unlike Consumer Reports, we feel the responsible thing to do is to withhold judgement until Apple releases their free software update.

Apple’s July 2, 2010, open letter regarding iPhone 4, can be read in full here. Consumer Reports should give it a try.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. Consumer Reports coverage of this is starting to sound more and more like a hit piece sponsored by Apple’s increasingly desperate competitors. In the battle of fear-mongering versus facts, fear-mongering usually wins.

  2. While there is an issue with the iPhone 4 antennae, the simple solution is to put the thing in a case. This renders it nearly a non-issue.

    This “story” should have died weeks ago, but seems to have gained a life of it’s own…


    Someone, or some organization is making a huge effort to keep it alive and in the headlines. Who it could be is anyone’s guess.

  3. I saw that the Consumer Report story made the news on Canada AM our national morning show which also does the news.

    Was a pretty crappy job (i.e. negative) of reporting without any mention that if there was a problem there was an easy fix and that not everyone experiences the problem. Also that CR says it is a great phone otherwise.

    News writers just wallow in negativity and sensationalism. Jerks.

  4. While MDN continues to bash CR, the rest of the nation’s media cites CR as an authority with reliable lab resources and testing protocols that are scientific and dependable. Engineers will always argue about these things, but what CR has demonstrated is exactly the problem people are having with the phone.

    The iP4 is a non working phone for a great many people who believed Steve Jobs when he said it was the ‘best ever’.

    Telling people like me to just return it is avoiding the issue. Apple has produced and sold a defective product. Apple should be held accountable for their arrogance in offering a stupid ‘fix’ that simply manipulates the bar display which is and always has been rather useless.

    Rumors that Apple is already applying a coating to the badly designed antenna band are probably true. Correcting the immediately discovered defect (by the end of launch day, reports of the problem were everywhere) is something Apple should have done before they ever sold the first one.

    Try as you may, MDN, this ain’t going away until a true hardware fix is provided to every phone ever sold – including a replacement, which is the most likely outcome from this. Apple does it voluntarily or some court or some state attorney general will order it.

  5. Dear Consumer Reports,

    The iPhone 4 works as intended and forcing the phone to function outside it’s specs isn’t a flaw. Take a sports car for example, all cars sold in thr U.S. are left-hand drive. If a left-handed person wants to shift a manual transmission with his or her left hand, there is going to be a problem. Now answer this CR, is the car flawed? Are you going to issue this kind of suggestion to all car manufacturers?

    During certain instances and during a lengthy death grip, my phone experienced this problem. It is however corrected when I release the death grip. It is a “free” fix.

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