Consumer Reports Can't Recommend the iPhone 4

By  |  Monday, July 12, 2010 at 8:57 am

Consumer Reports thinks that the iPhone 4 has the sharpest display and best camera it’s ever seen in a smartphone. It’s impressed by the phone’s battery life, and likes the front-facing camera and gyroscope. But CR doesn’t recommend Apple’s newest phone–because it says that that its testing proves that the 4 can indeed suffer from degraded reception if you touch the lower left-hand corner. In areas with weak AT&T coverage, in fact, touching the phone can cause it to lose signal altogether.

CR’s refusal to recommend the iPhone 4 represents something of a turnaround from its initial impressions: At first, it said that the reception issues weren’t unique and might not be a major problem. Now they’re serious enough to outweigh the numerous things the publication likes about the phone. Which leaves me wondering whether Apple will be forced to reengineer this phone or otherwise address concerns before the next-generation iPhone shows up in a year or so.


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13 Comments For This Post

  1. David Worthington Says:

    why not buy a $10 case?

  2. Big Al Says:

    Why on earth should I have to buy a case (or anything else, for that matter) in order for my phone to work correctly?

  3. josh s Says:

    why on earth would you not want your to protect your $799 (if you buy it without a contract) electronic device with a case?

  4. David Worthington Says:

    do you own one? probably not. nobody who I know who actually owns one has experienced this issue.

  5. Relyt Says:

    I own one and the reception issues have been very much present.

  6. Tim Says:

    Ironically, Apple's letter virtually admitted that it's a problem with every phone. What they were trying to say was that only some people notice it because of the way they calculate how many signal bars to display. Reading between the lines, that means that every iPhone 4 has the problem. Some people just have enough signal strength that it hasn't yet been an issue.

    Frankly, the "I/people I know haven't experienced the issue, therefore it probably doesn't really exist" is so clearly off the mark – so many people have reported the issue – that it's not really worth trying to argue that any more.

  7. Jim Riesen Says:

    It leaves me wondering how such a reputable consumer product testing organization like CR can do such a flip-flop. It makes me question their credibility more than Apple’s.

  8. Keith Says:

    This is such a charming, fanboi comment. Let me see if I have it straight:

    1) Apple makes a big screw-up but won't flip-flop by fixing it, or even acknowledging their screw-up. Well, other than to tell you peeps that if you'd hold your phone the friggin right way, you wouldn't have no damned reception problems. This is ok with you.

    2) Consumer Reports does a flip-flop on their review based on the ongoing severity of the issue. This is NOT ok with you.

    Make a shitty phone? Fine. Change your mind to recommend that shitty phone? Not fine.

    This is what makes you Apple fanbois so much fun to watch. 🙂 Thanks for that.

  9. Tim Says:

    If you read the update appended to CR's post, you'll see an explanation: they didn't really test the antenna before. Now, having tested it thoroughly, the phone is clearly flawed.

  10. Chris Says:

    I’m an iPhone 4 owner. Overall, I’m happy with the phone. But I do have some complaints.

    1) My biggest problem is that the proximity sensor doesn’t work for me. The screen turns off, but the buttons are still active. I unintentionally hang up and put people on mute all the time.

    2) It’s a beautiful phone, but it is fragile. I have several hairline scratches on the front and back of the phone, and it dropped once on concrete without the bumper case, and now there’s a small chip in the glass on the back side of the phone.

    3) I do have a bumper case, which has its own issues. The bottom opening in the case for the 30 pin adapter isn’t large enough to accept many accessories, including Apple’s own composite cable. I’ve also found out that the bumper case doesn’t stand up to abuse well. With one chomp, my two year old son took a chunk out of the case.

    4) I think the “death grip” issue is an issue, perhaps for right-handers even more than left-handers. Right-handers hold the phone with the left hand to type and call (leaving the dominant hand free). I’ve had few calling issues (except for the aforementioned sensor issue), but my hand clearly stops 3G data all the time. And that’s with a case on the phone!!!

    I’m not an alarmist–but the phone has some issues. Apple needs to address this…and a case may not solve the issue (It will be interesting to see Consumer Report’s update).

    Overall, it’s a great phone and the battery is improved and iOS4 is a nice improvement as well. But as much as the phone may look like a Leica (according to Steve Jobs), it feels less comfortable to hold than my previous 3GS and 3G (both which sustained drops without damage
    and did not develop scratches on the glass), and it may ultimately be as fragile as a Leica.

  11. Tim Says:

    I haven't had much problem with your first 3, but you're right on with #4. I've tested it with the FCC broadband speed test, and the results are very clear.

    FWIW, I just bought a case that caused only the slightest of improvements. I'm considering going back to my old 3G. I'll miss the retina display, the processor speed, and the camera, but I'll regain a phone that I can trust.

  12. @fmindlin Says:

    Chris's last words say it all: "…as fragile as a Leica." That's a damning analogy. My iPhone 3 is holding up fine–I highly recommend the all leather case.

  13. Apartments for Says:

    I just bought a case that caused only the slightest of improvements. I'm considering going back to my old 3G. I'll miss the retina display, the processor speed, and the camera, but I'll regain a phone that I can trust.
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