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Consumer Reports Can Not Recommend iPhone 4

Consumer Reports has recently completed some testing on the now infamous iPhone 4 “Death Grip” issues and is concluding that it can not recommend the iPhone 4. The report contradicts Apple’s recent, and mostly derided, “stunned” admission that the issue is with how the software calculates and displays the cell phone bars on the screen, saying instead that this is a hardware issue.

We reached this conclusion after testing all three of our iPhone 4s (purchased at three separate retailers in the New York area) in the controlled environment of CU’s radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber. In this room, 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 (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.

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.


The report goes on to say that using a piece of duct tape or other non-conductive material can solve the problem, as a case potentially does. It also states that with the exception of this issue, the iPhone 4 scored very high in testing.

Word on the street is there will be some sort of Apple branded Duct Tape available in Apple Stores soon. (That’s a joke.)

Thanks to Alison Skodol for the tip.

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4 Comments

  1. Sumocat

    07/12/2010 at 9:01 am

    My own testing has gone back to being inconclusive. I followed tivoboy’s example of running the speed test while touching the Death Spot and replicated his findings last night at home. This morning at the office, my iPhone 4 is again immune to the Death Spot. Full left-handed Death Grip without case degraded my download speed, but simply touching the Death Spot did nothing. Speeds were well within my normal range, marginally topping some of the controls, and showed no deceleration.

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  2. tivoboy

    07/12/2010 at 10:20 am

    so, as I noted before I cannot get this to happen in ONE case and that is with a solid FIVE bar signal. I really wish I could get back into field test mode, since I could then look at WHICH tower I was connected to. A 1.9 or 850 signal. I have the feeling we are talking about a problem with a 1.9ghz signal issue (most of the time these are ALWAYS going to be on the lower strength levels)

    Indeed with a five bar signal, running the speed test it will just continue to ACCELERATE up to crazy speeds sometimes for me here in the bay area, topping 5MB up! Wicked fast.

    But, alas, at home I have 2-4 bars most of the time and yesterday while on a 20 minute call, the connection dropped three times. Over time, we forget HOW TO HOLD IT (I haven’t put a bumper on yet since my local stores DONT HAVE ANY BUMPERS!!!!!) and it drops. The people with whom I was talking were understanding of course, laughing at my new “300$ cell phone!”

    I had the feeling a few weeks ago, that indeed a fix was going to be coming in the next couple weeks. This was based on the fact that I could so easily replicate the problem and found it completely unacceptable. Todays FRONT PAGE OF BLOOMBERG, AP, REUTERS, WSJ simply confirms my opinion that a fix will be forthcoming. probably with a short term bandaid of a free bumper going out to users who come in to the store.

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  3. acerbic

    07/12/2010 at 7:37 pm

    I don’t understand what’s mysterious or inconclusive. The signal always degrades when you touch the antenna but the effect the degradation has on the connection (whether the call is dropped or not or the data speed) depends on how strong the signal was to begin with.

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  4. Radovich

    07/13/2010 at 11:27 pm

    It’s impossible that we use iphone 4 to watch videos, when we want to contact with our friends with no signal, for the less formats supported by it, what’s worse we ever need to buy a software like ifunia video converter for my iphone. ouch!!

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