Consumer Reports punches Apple in the iPhone


image courtesy of Apple.com

image courtesy of Apple.com

Remember that problem with the iPhone 4’s antenna that surfaced not long after the device landed in consumers’ hands?

It seems that despite Apple’s acknowledgement of the problem and later promises to issue a software update, Consumer Reports has decided it represents a serious flaw in the device’s design. So  much so that they have added Apple’s latest smartphone to its “not recommended” list.

According to CR’s blog, the design of the antenna is such that:

“[if you cover a portion of it with your hand] the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal.”

This report doesn’t bring any new facts to the table, but it is one of the first third-party tests to establish beyond any doubt what many users of the phone have been saying for weeks.  Apple’s previous model, the iPhone 3GS, remains by contrast one of Consumer Reports’ recommended phones.

Beyond the actual antenna problem, CR also takes Apple to task over its explanation of the issue as an “optical illusion”:

“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.””

The big questions raised by today’s announcement are: Will this influence people’s decision to buy the iPhone 4 – especially since the device has yet to debut in the Canadian market? and… Will having such a bold condemnation of their device by a respected publication like CR cause Apple to consider a recall and subsequent redesign of their antenna?

Update July 13, 3:16 p.m. EST:

While there is still no official response to Consumer Reports’ review of the iPhone 4, Apple’s forum moderators seem intent on keeping any references to the post from gracing their discussion boards. Huffington Post quotes reports from TUAW that indicate Apple is going to significant (though apparently not uncharacteristic) lengths to hide the links.

Readers, where do you stand?

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53 comments

  1. Don

    Excuses and delays impact reputation and sales. Apple needs to fix the iPhone4 or become the next “Toyota”!

    Like

  2. Dick

    My question is, when is the problem going to be fixed, or is there going to be a re-design to fix the problem of the antenna. Also if it is worth it of even buying a iphone4 with these flaws in it.

    Like

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  4. Petet

    I never was nor will I ever be a fan of anything made by CRAPPLE!
    The only good computer manufacturer was Commodore, but lousy management brought them down.

    Like

    • the facts are in folks

      well for starters this phone is exactly what it says it is a portable phone and it does not work period….
      and please folks just a heads up stay as far away as you can from the palm pre as well if your on the phone while you have a text waiting or anything trust me the battery is gonna die on ya in a matter of a hour or so and even if you have nothing running in the background and everything and i mean everything off the battery will never last more then 4 hours period tried tested and no good and i have photos to prove it and get this if you have a bluetooth running for more then a half hour your battery is gone in less then a hour fact where i got sucked into it has nothing to offer me or the customer service here stay away and this place is in the halifax shopping centre formally radio shack. so i`m not mentioning any names here so cant be sued so take it from there if you have any concerns dont rely on anybody helping you out or returning anyyyyyyyy of your calls.
      just a heads up folks.
      oh and p.s. the district manager isnt any better either sounds like he is gonna get things done this was a month ago and still we wait the best phone i ever had and still do is my old samsung time to bring it back into use battery i can forget for a week or so and will still wake me up the following day awesome!!!!
      palm pre i`m gonna be late for work….. and 1 more thing download the clock sync for the palm pre because it was off by 2 hours the other day because i shut it off because of the battery during work so?????
      anyway god-bless

      Like

      • jon b

        idiot like you: erik, who buy anything even if it doesn’t work.And Iphone IDIOTS like you who are willing to pay $30.00 to fix their problems even it’s Apple’s design flaws.Talk about Stupid and Idiots!!!

        Like

  5. Humidors

    I am a Blackberry user and own an iPod touch. As much as I enjoy the Touch, I would never abandon my Blackberry for work related tasks.

    Like

  6. ariesguy

    I have had an iPhone, a Blackberry 9630, and currently have a HTC Magic+ and can say without a shadow of a doubt that the HTC running Android blows the Blackberry and iPhone clean out of the water. I have a strong feeling Google will be the smartphone OS leader in a few years.

    Like

  7. The Business Man

    This is what happens when you reinvent the wheel. It will roll or fall over. This one fell over. We already have wheels. Come on apple. Get original and build something new and usefull.

    Like

  8. Pamela

    I’m from Saint John, New Brunswick Canada and i’m having the same problems with my (2)iphone 3G’s let alone the fact that i had upgraded to this style of phone cause i couldnt get signal whileat the cottage (in the woods) and Aliant won’t do anything about it!…Just signed a new 3yr contract for both back in March.

    Like

  9. SG

    Both my husband and I have iPhones 3GS’s. They are an absolutely unbelieveable piece of technology. Sure they have a few glitches to still be worked out, but certainly nothing that interfers with day to day operations.

    WE LOVE THEM and highly recommend an iPhone 3GS! Buy yours today!

    Like

  10. jane

    i was very excited to get an iphone 4. i use a blackberry now but my whole family was going to make the switch when it hit canada.
    but no way am i paying that kind of money for a phone that has that many errors and giving up a blackberry which has never given me any problems ever.
    maybe if they fix it and there are no complaints for a few months…..why do they release these things if they know it doesn’t work? they would have had to notice the antenna issue for goodness sakes. bad bad move

    Like

    • Peter

      Keep your BlackBerry or you will regret ever leaving it. I had a BlackBerry and then I decided to get an iPhone. I absolutely hated it. No memory card, can’t replace the battery and the battery dies so fast! You have to have your charger with you at all times. I’m now back to BlackBerry and couldn’t be happier. BlackBerry has a new phone coming out soon (September) that is touch screen with a slide out keyboard. I think you’ll love it.

      Like

    • jon b

      Jane:It’s a good move on apple part, extra $30.00 profit (green bumpers band)to fix their antenna problems
      Don’t worry they are millions of Canadian Iphone Idiots(e.g.SG husband and wife team) willing to buy even if doesn’t work as long it has a Apple Logo on it.Why should Apple fix the problems as long as Stupid iphone users don’t complain.
      Don’t you think Apple did not try the Iphone4 before they sell it.THe extra $30.00 profit remembered? Apple has the best Marketing plot.

      Like

  11. 3GS Crazzzzzy

    My wife has the 3G, and I have the 3GS with the exception of a little more speed than the 3G, both phones rock my world. That being said, I just bought my 3GS knowing the I4 is coming, and hearing about the problems with the I4 it sure scared me away from waiting for it. I hope Apple does the right thing, and recalls the I4 and looks after the customer base. I would hate to see, them go through some unessary hard times.

    Like

    • lee

      3GS Crazzzzzy: come on! you and your wife will be the first on the block to buy the iphone4 whether apple fix it or not.
      Apple got you all controled so well.

      Like

  12. Crazygixxerdude

    I’ve had the HTC touch and HTC touch pro, and I’m telling you these phones are highly under-rated. Best of both worlds…Running windows mobile 6.5 i can sync email’s automatically from sympatico or any email account for that matter. mobile word, excel, powerpoint, windows media player, databases. Just installed Garmin mobile xt program and it works exactly like my garmin nuvi, 3D voice nav…with no montly fees. expandable memory, gps antenna, wifi, blu tooth, 3.2 mega pixel camera, powerfull cpu. runs games apps. It’s the best. had the Touch for 2 years, have the touch pro now for 6 months both are better than my blackberry.

    Like

  13. Brenda

    My husband upgraded to an Iphone because he was told that the iphone had 97% more signal throughout Ontario. He is a long haul truck driver and his main area is travelling to Thunder Bay, Ontario. He discovered that Thunder Bay and area is not getting the iphone until next year and their Bell phones bounce off Ttel network. Needless to say he was not pleased but he cannot use the iphone when travelling north due to no signal. He tried to have the iphone switched over to another network but the iphone 3GS operates on the HSPA network and he could not switch. So then he had to switch back to his old phone because he gets a signal and able to make calls.

    I think Iphone designers should not advertise that it has 97% more strength when it does not especially when you travel to northern Ontario. My husband was impressed with Iphone features but not with the area covered.

    Like

  14. Arsh

    Ok people there allwase be flaws with technology there can never be the perfect piece but they can be improved what i am trying to say is that i love iPhone 4 i am getting 1 soon. In this video the man shows if u put a piece of ductape it will help with the reception and he is right but why do that if u can buy the Bumper its a case from apple. most of friends have iPhone 4 and they all were getting problems with the reception so i told them to go buy a bumper a hell they were surprised it helps alot and on the bright side APPLE is issuing a new software for the problems and i am sure they will work it out. i like the company APPLE they make cool functional very modernize peaces of technology. Thanks thats all i have to say :)

    Like

  15. jon b

    Apple made these problem on purpose so that they can sell more of the green bumpers $30.00 and they know that those STUPID iphone fanboys will buy anything that Apple makes.

    Like

  16. Kivi

    Had a blackberry… hated it.

    i Love my iphone ! Fantastic piece of technology.

    wife likes her blackberry, and does not like the iphone…. to each their own.

    Like

  17. bob

    When Steve Jobs first showcased the iphone 4 it didn’t work,but people in the U.S.lined up for days to be the 1st to own one.Go figure.I am hoping Apple pulls it’s Canadian debut until it fixes the problem.If not,the Canadian wing,of the cult that is Apple,will be lined up as well.If these cases are the fix then Apple should be giving them away.It would be the smart move from a marketing perspective.

    Like

  18. Craig

    Anandtech did an exhaustive test of the antenna, including converting the “bars” related to signal strength into a decibel equivalent, which is a much more accurate test of the actual operating signal level.

    They found that the iPhone 4 has BETTER reception than the 3G, even with fingers/hands etc. bridging the two antennas.

    Here’s a link to the article, in case anyone wants to check it out: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review

    Based on their article, I’m still interested in picking one up when they’re released in Canada.

    Like

    • Simon Cohen

      Thanks for the link Craig – agreed a great in-depth review. But maybe I missed something. They don’t really contradict CR’s findings as much as they explain why CR got the results they did. Regardless it certainly looks like the design of the iPhone 4’s external antenna system will need to be reviewed (or as someone else posted perhaps they could include a free wrap so that there is no way to bridge the two antennas?)

      Like

      • Craig

        The section of the article that caught my attention was:

        “From my day of testing, I’ve determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I’ve never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it’s readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS. The difference is that reception is massively better on the iPhone 4 in actual use.”

        I agree with Simon that the stand-up thing for them to do would be to offer a $0.05 wrap that prevents bridging, even if it’s just to appease the PR nightmare they’ve created.

        :)

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  19. dr. bill

    We have an even split of iPhone 3Gs (Apple) and Motorola Milestones (Android) at work.
    The Android phones make the iPhones look like toys, AND the iPhones actually cost us more. :( We are phasing out the iPhones altogether.

    Like

    • Baron

      Well Toyota just recalled somewhere between 3-5 million CARS. So ya Crapple can recall ipods and fix them or give full refunds. Crapple is one of the worst companys in the world for customer service hands down. They’re greed and peoples desire to keep up with the jones’ makes them rich and when their product fails they say f you to the public and you lemmings eat it up. DUHH can you imagine 2 million ipods being recalled? LMAO.

      Like

  20. Baron

    Look at me and my Iphone and other Crapple products. Look at me with my Liz Taylor sunglasses and false sense of entitlement. Look at me with a tiny dog i use as a fashion accessorie. Look at me, Look at me, Look at me. You people are F@#$ING pathetic. People calling each other names and obsessing over a phone?

    On the day of judgment you’ll all go down like drown rats while the strong and sensible inherit the earth. The first thing i’m gonna do is shoot your purse chiuaua in the face and eat it in a Starbucks that i torched.

    Peace out losers…

    Like

    • Simon Cohen

      If you torch all the Starbucks on the day of judgement, where am I supposed to go for a latte where I can connect my iPhone via free Wi-Fi? Also, are you saying that eating a faceless chihuahua is sensible?

      Like

      • Baron

        Yes on the day of judgement I believe it will be sensible to eat dogs. They do in some places now. Face or no face. Ever seen one of those flattened dogs in a vietnamese market? Ummm thats good eating.

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  21. Baron

    I also find it hilarious that one of the most advanced pieces of technology (iphone) can be repaired with the most red neck piece of technology (ductape). Next thing you know they’ll tell ya smearing dog s@#t all over your head improves iphone reception and you’ll do it.

    Like