Steve Jobs may be doing his best to sidestep the issue (see update below), but the plain truth is that a lot of users are frustrated by the iPhone’s antenna problem, which causes the handset to lose signal bars if the handset is held in the “wrong” way.
Don’t touch that case!
In areas with weak signal, touching the external antenna band at the bottom left side of the iPhone can cause the loss of voice and data connection, and the independent Consumer Reports website has confirmed this issue and decided that they can’t recommend the phone as a result.
Here’s their blog post on the matter:
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. 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 site did, however, offer an economical if not stylish solution, and that was to break out the gaffa tape (or ‘duct tape’ if you’re on the other side of the pond) and slap it over the problem area.
It sure seems a dreadful bodge to be slapping sticky tape on a £600 phone, but we guess that’s got to be better than dropping vital calls.
Check out the video below to see their testing:
Flawed but still selling
Such is the strength of Apple’s brand, a big spring could sporadically ‘boing’ out the back of iPhone 4s and it would probably still sell by the bucketload, but it would be foolish to think that this problem is having zero adverse effect in the minds of consumers.
Having an independent magazine with 7.3 million subscribers telling people that they can’t recommend Apple’s flagship product because of a design fault can’t be good for business.
If only Jobs would just admit that there’s a relatively small problem with the handset and give away free bumpers this PR disaster could have been nipped in the bud long ago – but as we now, Steve Jobs doesn’t “do” admissions of guilt.
Update: Engadget agrees:
Tech site Engadget has done their own tests which also show that the signal strength issue affects all iPhones 4s – click this link to see their test video.
Update 2: Apple are now deleting all mentions of the Consumer Reports article from their support forums:
If you were looking for a message thread on Apple’s support forums pointing to Consumer Reports’ article ‘not recommending’ the iPhone 4, it’s not there any more. Apple’s support forum moderators deleted the thread. Bing cached it.
If it happened once, maybe you’d say it was a glitch. But what if it happened twice? Three times? Four times, five, six?
I’m not prone to hysterics or a subscriber to conspiracy theories, but it’s fairly hard to imagine any good way to interpret this. Every post that I saw listed in a Google search of Apple’s discussion boards lead to the same result: “Error: you do not have permission to view the requested forum or category.”