Consumer Reports Drops iPhone 4 Recommendation Citing Poor Reception
CREDIT: Apple Inc
Consumer Reports (CR) has revoked its original recommendation for the iPhone 4, citing a confirmed reception issue with the new Apple phone.
"Consumer Reports' engineers have confirmed that iPhone 4 has an antenna problem, and it's right here," said CR's senior electronics editor Mike Gikas in a video accompanying a statement posted on the product testing company's Web site.
Gikas pointed to the gap in the lower-left portion of the wraparound steel band that serves as the iPhone 4's antenna. This is the exact spot where many buyers have said they lose reception if they hold their phones in what has come to be known as the iPhone 4 "death grip."
"Our engineers found that when you place your finger on the gap between the two antennas on the lower left hand side of the iPhone 4, signal strength can drop by about 20 decibels, and that’s enough to drop a call," Gikas said.
CR tested three iPhone 4s purchased at separate locations in New York at its special lab that blocks out cell phone signals. There, CR's engineers can simulate cell phone tower signals from particular carriers to see how well a phone really links up.
A previous generation iPhone 3GS and a Palm Pre, both on AT&T's network – which itself has been a suspect in the unfolding "Receptiongate" brouhaha – were also tested for signal strength in this setup. In the end CR's people determined that the reception problem is "really only with the iPhone 4," Gikas said.
Accordingly, until Apple comes up with a (free) fix for the problem, CR said it cannot recommend the iPhone 4. This is despite the new phone possessing "the sharpest display and best video camera we've seen on any phone" and outshining 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," Gikas said in a statement.
In perhaps adding insult to injury, Gikas said that CR had come up with a solution to the iPhone 4 reception issue: a piece of duct tape over the steel antenna gap.
This poke in the eye might be on the money, however: In email responses to concerned iPhone 4 owners, Apple CEO Steve Jobs advised them to not hold the phone in such a way that covers this antenna gap (far easier said than done, as Jobs proved when he held the phone this way at the product launch in June), or to buy a rubber "bumper" case that covers this trouble spot.
Apple's official Receptiongate statement , which came 10 days after the phone's release, spoke of a software bug that had been incorrectly displaying iPhone reception ever since the very first Apple smartphone came out in 2007.
CR said it is not buying this explanation, however, and maintains that there is indeed a hardware problem rather than an easily fixed, "patchable" issue. Apple had said a free software fix would go out soon to resolve the problem, though there has been no further word on this solution.
At any rate, CR's findings would seem to cast serious aspersions upon the iPhone 4 reception fire being an easy one to extinguish.