On Monday, Consumer Reports astonished many with a public announcement effectively withdrawing their recommendation of the iPhone 4 to potential Apple smartphone buyers. The reason given for the yanked support is the lingering reception problems and so-called death grip that continues to frustrate and confound as Apple purportedly readies a software update to attack what appears to many to be a hardware problem.
Commenting on its official electronics blog, Consumer Reports indicates that it tested three iPhone 4s that were acquired at three different Apple retail outlets in the New York area. Tests were performed inside a controlled environment of a radio frequency isolation chamber. "In this room," the publication notes, "which is impervious to outside radio signals, our test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers. We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4."
Taking a further (and deeper) jab at Apple:
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 tests also indicate that AT&T's network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4's much-reported signal woes.
Ever the resourceful consumer advocate, Consumer Reports did, however, propose one possible way of mitigating the epic reception trouble by using a wad of duct tape to fill the antenna gap located on the bottom of the device. "It works," observes the publication... although "it may not be pretty."