Consumer Reports has conducted controlled laboratory testing on three iPhone 4s, purchased at separate locations. The results indicate that a hardware flaw can affect reception. Even though there are some workarounds, the publication can’t recommend the new iPhone.
The testing, conducted in CU’s independent radio frequency isolation chamber confirmed that there is a problem with the iPhone 4’s 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 also tested several other AT&T phones, including the iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. “None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.”
The findings are comprehensive and answer many of the outstanding questions about the iPhone 4’s reception issues. The findings raise questions about Apple’s explanation that the software mistakenly shows more bars than it should as the complete solution. Also, the findings suggest that the AT&T network is not the culprit.
Several workarounds were found. One is to cover the antenna gap on the left side with a piece of tape. CU also suspects that using a case would help, and is currently conducting tests with a plan to report further.
The Consumer Reports findings will almost certainly be used as technical evidence in any class action lawsuit related to this new iPhone’s reception issues and detracts from Apple’s recent explanation that it’s all just a software calibration issue.