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.

  6. Keep It Up — Return the phone and get over it! Apple is under no obligation to do a damn thing if you knowingly keep a product with which you are unhappy and they have provided you with the means to return within a reasonable period of time. This is want the free market is all about. The government, a lawyer, no one beside the unsatisfied consumer has any right or reason to interfere. Exercise your right! Get the point across loud a clear. That is the only suitable solution.

  7. They are trying to ride to the fix so they can look like the knights in shining armor. Hey, thanks for fixing the problem we told you to fix. Lucky for you customers that, we, Consumer Reports tested, reported, stood-up to the evil corporation, and force a quick fix to your phone.

    By the way, our subscription is………

  8. Latest business strategy:
    Ride the coat tails of Apple’s fame to generate buzz on your own product.
    Perfected by GreenPiece – emulated by Consumer Retorts and many more to come. Better get used to it as Apple demolishes legacy technology.

  9. O.K. I think these bastards are being influenced by some hidden agenda. I happen to have one of these iPhones and truly, if they are making this much noise, it can only be explained by attempting to ether manipulate the stock or they are in cohorts with an entity that benefits from the iPhone brand tarnishing.

  10. I think Consumer Reports should have tested the iPhone outside of AT&T;’s network. I’ve heard no reports of signal loss outside the States. Have you heard any reports of problems in the UK, or France? A Canadian member of the DevTeam, who unlocked an AT&T;iPhone 4 has tested it on Bell, Rogers and Telus here in Canada, and has had no signal degradation problems. I think 50% of the problem is AT&T;once again.

  11. I can’t help but wonder if CR staff don’t have ties to some of the less reputable hedge funds. A hit piece like this, just before earnings season, is a godsend for a hedge fund doing the short, lie, profit routine on Apple.

  12. Ignore CR, CR subscriptions are going down. Ignoring their tests will keep them like graffiti on an unexposed wall. Reponding to it means someone is reading it.
    MDN should stop repeating its position.
    There are no report of long return lines.
    Clearly the harping is to attract attention therefore let the harping fall into deaf

  13. @Mr. Reee,

    My money is on google or htc, with nokia coming in a close second. An outside chance of Microsoft, because it looks like their tactics, and they are getting increasingly embarrassed with each passing day…

  14. Excuse me, I’m 55 and a Consumer Reports subscriber, and I don’t appreciate being called “a rapidly dying population”. I own an iPhone 4, and the attenuation issue is real to me. But I’ll patiently wait for Apple to come up with a solution.

    CR is not anti-Apple. They regularly give praise to Apple products and excellent customer support.

  15. Consumer Reports once reviewed three trucks and since never trusted there option without my own research.

    Chevy Canyon: low reliability, lacking power. No praise
    GMC Canyon: low reliability, sluggish. No praise

    Isuzu I-290: above avg reliability, power matching a v-6, praised.

    Now they are all the same truck, engine, etc. In fact, GM farmed out the engineering to Isuzu for the series of small trucks as well as the Small SUV.

    Why did it not reflect that they are all the same and should have been rated the same? But the Isuzu, at the time, was new and Japanese? Did they test it or just slighted the product to country of origin. This is one of many they seem to get wrong.

  16. In case anyone missed this from a previous article:

    “In July 1996, Consumer Reports tested motor oils for their readers, but instead of using normal cars, they used New York City taxis, which are normally run 24 hours a day and never allowed to cool down – which means that the most strenuous test of motor oil, the cold start (which causes most engine damage), occured rarely, if ever, during their testing. They found no difference between any of the motor oils, from the cheapest to the best synthetic, and concluded that all ‘natural’ oils are interchangeable, but that synthetics still hold an advantage for some drivers. The idea that the research was meaningless because their research methods were horribly flawed was not brought up; nor did they go to the natural conclusion that if they couldn’t tell the difference between Mobil One and the cheapest oil on the shelf, they probably couldn’t use that research model to tell whether individual natural oils were different in quality.”

    That’s only one example of many. Read more: Inconsistencies and statistical problems of Consumer Reports

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