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Consumer Reports cannot recommend iPhone 4

Today, Consumer Reports said that it will not recommend Apple’s iPhone 4 to consumers because of reception problems. In a blog posting on the ConsumerReports.org Web site, it explains why.

“It’s official. Consumer Reports’ engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”

Consumer reports reached the conclusion after testing all three of its iPhone 4s, which were purchased at separate retailers, in the controlled environment of Consumer Union’s radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber, which is impervious to outside radio signals. Several other AT&T phones were tested, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of the other phones showed the signal loss problems of the iPhone 4.

The ConsumerReports.org site sums up the testing in a video, and includes a workaround of covering up the gap in the wrap-around antenna with a nonconducting material, like duct tape. Consumer Reports considers the antenna design a “design defect.” Consumer Reports says that it will test a few non-conducting cases this week and report back concerning reception.

Consumer Reports notes that, other than the “antenna problem,” the iPhone 4 is ON THE TOP OF the Ratings of smart phones that were released today. The iPhone 4 had “the sharpest display and best video camera” that they have seen on any phone, and noted the front-facing camera for videoconferencing and the gyroscope.

The Consumer Reports bottom line:

“But Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4.”

The discussion above is “academic” for me, since I will not buy an iPhone linked to AT&Ts network. I DO find some of the behaviors above reminiscent of some of the places I worked in high tech that were highly enriched in Myers-Briggs _NTJ types of both the extroverted and introverted varieties. Both of these types are quite rare in nature, :-) but somehow seem to cluster in high tech (and science), for better AND worse.

(Note added July 16, 2010: Even with the free bumper announced today, Consumer Reports does not recommend iPhone 4.)

-Bill at

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