An electromagnetic engineer has found fault
with the way Consumer Reports
did its iPhone 4 testing, calling it "uncontrolled, unscientific" and no different than the simple experiments "that many of the blogging sites have done." While Bob Egan - who says he dealt with "exactly the kind of issues that now face Apple" in his career - stops short of saying that there is no problem, he says it was wrong of Consumer Reports
to present their testing results as authoritative.
As reported here on Monday
, Consumer Reports
claimed to have "confirmed" the reported antenna issue, replicating the results found by many users and more than a few blogs, and saying "it's official." Its lab tests consisted of setting up three new iPhone 4s in a sealed chamber with a "base station emulator," along with three other phones including an iPhone 3GS and a Palm Pre. Consumer Reports
engineers are seen in the video of the testing in the lab, surrounded by a bunch of equipment with an iPhone in a clamp that looks like a robotic hand. Sure enough, when one of the engineers touches the lower-left corner, signal drops, and the other phones perform normally in the same tests.
While the sealed chamber and base station emulator gave the ability to measure transmit power accurately, allowing more precise calculation of the difference between expected and observed signal, the test in general was no different than what Anand Shimpi had done weeks before
, or really than what thousands of users have done on their own. Egan seems to be comparing the testing to an FCC certification test when he asserts that "the iPhone should have been sitting on a non-metallic pedestal inside an anechoic chamber," with no people inside the chamber and that "the base station simulator should have been also sitting outside the chamber and had a calibrated antenna plumbed to it from inside the chamber." He was asked in the comments to his blog post how they could have done the testing with no people inside. In response, Egan referred to the dummy heads used in specific absorption rate (SAR) testing of phones for the FCC. To gain meaningful information about the extent and possible cause of the problem, Egan notes, more scientific testing would have been necessary.
It should be established beyond a reasonable doubt by this point that the Death Grip problem is real. Apple has no doubt confirmed the problem in its lab testing, and may even be starting to make moves to address it
. While Consumer Reports
probably overreached in saying the problem was "confirmed," it's at least another report - like Anandtech's - with detailed and specific results - and will hopefully be yet another spur for Apple to step up and deal with the issue directly.