28 Comments

Summary:

Consumer Reports has tested the alleged reception problem on the new iPhone 4 and has confirmed it is indeed a function of the design of the phone’s antenna. The organization is refusing to recommend the iPhone 4 to consumers due to the severity of the problem.

iphone-4

Consumer Reports has released testing results of the new iPhone 4 and has confirmed the alleged reception problem is indeed a function of the design of the phone’s antenna. The organization goes as far as refusing to recommend the iPhone 4 to consumers due to the severity of the problem. This flies in the face of Apple’s claims that the problem involves the software displaying the network signal strength, and not an actual reception problem.

The consumer organization conducts product testing of all smartphones. Three iPhone 4s — purchased at different retail outlets — were tested in Consumer Reports’ in-house lab. This testing was conducted in a controlled environment impervious to outside signal anomalies, insuring that test results reflected the performance of the phone hardware alone. The findings from this testing were conclusive:

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. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.

Older model iPhones and other brand phones on the AT&T network were tested; none demonstrated the reception issue as observed on all the iPhone 4s. The results of these tests led Consumer Reports to doubt that the AT&T network is the primary cause of this problem on the iPhone 4.

On a recent MobileTechRoundup podcast, I jokingly asked my co-hosts if duct tape could be used to cover the affected spot on the lower left side of the iPhone 4. Consumer Reports found that indeed placing a piece of non-conductive duct or masking tape over this area eliminates the problem. Using a case to cover it also makes the problem disappear.

The full testing conducted on the iPhone 4 led Consumer Reports to determine that the phone is as good as other top smartphones, if the antenna issue was disregarded. But because maintaining a good network connection is pretty darn essential for a phone, this failing led the organization to withhold its recommendation for the iPhone 4.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d.): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

  1. Evo Yoo Suk Monday, July 12, 2010

    As the guiding force in consumer purchasing decision-making this is most unfortunate news.

    It should be seen as a wake-up call to Steven P. Jobs to add a hardware fix to the 4 ASAP !

    I would suggest carbon fiber wrapper around the edges that come in a wide variety of colors that increase the cool factor of the phone while at the same time providing the necessary hardware fix alongside the upcoming software fix.

    This must be a FREE fix that will cost Apple millions but will regain customer trust in the brand which is priceless.

    DO IT STEVE AND THE SOONER THE BETTER.

    Share
  2. I don’t know if i shoud bye it?

    Share
  3. But you’re just holding it wrong…

    :P

    Share
  4. JK your pro-Apple bias has been clear for some time.

    Share
    1. Yes it has. But I don’t see it here at all. This seems like a completely unbiased report to me, in all fairness.

      Gordon

      Share
    2. Leave the divisive talk for the Engadget forums. From my following of this blog I have only seen a writer who is a fan of all productivity enhancing tech, regardless of manufacturer. This pro/anti Apple stuff is ridiculous. Their products are excellent in some ways, inhibiting in others. Let’s move along shall we?

      Share
      1. I’m honestly kidding. I noticed recently that often stating any platform’s name in an article tends to bring out the claws. For instance, the note right below this one! :-)

        Share
      2. My apologies, the environment around Apple has become rather pressurized of late. I see it all the time on Engadget and Gizmodo, I hope to see it avoided here.

        Share
  5. DRGilmore21 Monday, July 12, 2010

    Consumer Reports is a JOKE.

    I love my iPhone 4.

    Suck it.

    Share
  6. As well they should. I dropped more calls with this phone than I did with my 3G or 3GS, until I got a case. But I shouldn’t have to get a case for a phone that is touted to be engineered as scratch-resistant and sturdier than previous iterations. I shouldn’t have to get a case so it can perform its primary function – as a phone.
    And still no proximity sensor review from them? That’s probably my biggest concern. I’m tired of placing calls on hold/mute/add call/FaceTime with my face! For the love of God already, Apple, FIX THIS.

    Share
  7. Cupertino Guy Monday, July 12, 2010

    Even though I purchased the four and use the infamous bumper case I believe this is a very serious blow to the Apple.

    Consumer Reports (love’m or hate’m) is be far America’s most trusted source for Consumer Product Reviews.

    If I was Steve I would check in my ego at the door and get this situation resolved. This is tarnishing Apple’s mostly stellar reputation for high quality products.

    Act now before its too late. Customer loyalty is earned and cannot be taken for granted.

    BTW, I still love my iPhone 4, i believe it still has the best screen, best apps, best battery life, best performance of any smartphone currently on the market (including the Droid X, EVO and those Galaxy 5 phones).

    Share
  8. Richard Garrett Monday, July 12, 2010

    I wonder if this problem failed to show up in Apple’s field tests because the phone was wrapped in a disguised case (remembering the Gizmodo caper).

    Share
  9. LOL – another nail in Steve Jobs’ coffin.

    Share
  10. It is a well known fact that duct tape can fix any problem on the planet. If you can’t fix your problem with duct tape, you just haven’t used enough! ;-)

    Share
    1. Yes! There are only two tools a person needs. WD40 and Duct tape.

      If it moves and it shouldn’t, use the Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use the WD40.

      :-)

      Share

Comments have been disabled for this post