Consumer Reports: Verizon iPhone Has AT&T’s Antenna Problem

The Verizon iPhone 4 has the same antenna attenuation problems that the original AT&T model suffered from, according to Consumer Reports. The magazine said on Friday that just as with the GSM version of the iPhone, users can cause a drop in signal strength on the device if they bridge the gap in the outer band with their fingers.

Consumer Reports drew the ire of many iPhone fans by being very critical of the iPhone 4 for its attenuation issues — when the device was first released there were many reports of dropped calls and a loss of signal strength, and the magazine kept up a stream of criticism on the device, recommending competing Android devices for readers looking for a smartphone.

That recommendation and CR’s criticisms of the device, Apple, and Apple’s handling of the issue, seemingly didn’t stop the iPhone’s momentum, however, with the only limit on iPhone sales seeming to be how many Apple could make.

That was all so “2010,” however, and in February of 2011 Apple introduced a CDMA version of the iPhone for use on Verizon’s network. This version included a slight modification to the outer metal band on the device, and Consumer Reports put the device through the same tests as the original iPhone, comparing the results to other Verizon smartphones the magazine rates “highly,” including: Samsung Fascinate; Motorola Droid 2 Global; HTC Droid Incredible; LG Ally; and Motorola Droid X.

“The only phones in which the finger contact caused any meaningful decline in performance was the iPhone 4,” CR wrote, “the sides of which comprise a metal band broken by several thin gaps. As with our tests of the AT&T iPhone 4, putting a finger across one particular gap—the one on the lower left side—caused performance to decline. Bridging this gap is easy to do inadvertently, especially when the phone is in your palm, which might readily and continuously cover the gap during a call.”

Consumer Reports Photo

Photo accompanying Consumer Reports article on Verizon iPhone 4

The testing also found that a bumper case alleviates any attenuation issues, and the magazine also said that sound quality on outgoing calls from the Verizon iPhone 4 was higher than calls made from its CDMA cousin. Calls received on the AT&T version, however, sounded better.

In summary, CR offered, “The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the original AT&T iPhone 4 in many positive respects, including offering great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen, and the best MP3 player we’ve seen on a phone. Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case.”