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Consumer Reports: signal issues not unique iPhone 4, no reason not to buy

post #1 of 452
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"There's no reason, at least yet, to forgo buying an iPhone 4 over its reception concerns," writes Consumer Reports

A new article in the research group's Electronics Blog notes that the "signal woes" of iPhone 4 are not a unique problem, and "may not be serious."

"Underplayed in the discussion is the fact that all phones are subject to interference from the human who is using them," writes Mike Gikas. "And even if the alleged signal loss is real, there's an absence of hard evidence that iPhone 4 reception is problematic compared to past iPhones; indeed, there's evidence of just the opposite."

The group adds, "most of the web sites reporting dropped signals and even dropped calls have demonstrated several techniques, or 'death grips' for recreating the problem (which we've yet been able to reproduce in a meaningful way). But those almost always require squeezing the phone hard, in an unnatural way. Those grips may also produce sweaty palms from exertion, with the sweat increasing conductivityand possibly the degree of signal loss."

(Update: Gikas has subsequently reported that "while we've been unable to date to create the reported conditions in our National Testing Center in Yonkers, New York," he has been able to "reproduce the signal loss that's at the heart of the controversy," in informal testing, noting "there's some question about whether the drop in displayed signal is merely a metering issue, and whether call quality or the ability to place calls is affected." The update also points out that there are many readers who "report fine and consistent signal experiences with their new iPhones")

Gikas cited lab testing performed by Anandtech, which "determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar)."

That report further noted, "previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I've never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it's readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS."

Using a cover, iPhone 4 performed even better. "With my bumper case on, I made it further into dead zones than ever before, and into marginal areas that would always drop calls without any problems at all," Anandtech wrote.

"It's amazing really to experience the difference in sensitivity the iPhone 4 brings compared to the 3GS, and issues from holding the phone aside, reception is absolutely definitely improved. I felt like I was going places no iPhone had ever gone before. There's no doubt in my mind this iPhone gets the best cellular reception yet, even though measured signal is lower than the 3GS."

Consumer Reports concluded that even if problems do materialize, "Apple's Steve Jobs helpfully reminds new iPhone buyers that 'you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.'"
post #2 of 452
There is no doubt the reception issue is real. It really boils down to who it affects individually. I can reproduce the error about 40% of the time. Even then, it hasn't dropped a call. I even forced it to get down to no bars on EDGE and the voice still connected, didn't drop and was clear. Odd.

I think it's safe to say that for me and me only, it's a non-issue. It's unfortunate for the ones who due suffer it. Return it if it's really that bad.
post #3 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

There is no doubt the reception issue is real. It really boils down to who it affects individually. I can reproduce the error about 40% of the time. Even then, it hasn't dropped a call. I even forced it to get down to no bars on EDGE and the voice still connected, didn't drop and was clear. Odd.

I think it's safe to say that for me and me only, it's a non-issue. It's unfortunate for the ones who due suffer it. Return it if it's really that bad.

this issue has gone on for 38 months now
att drops call a lot
on a bright sunny 5 bar day with no one in sight >>calls still drop

>>>>
where apple screwed up is making a 30.ct bumper bad charging 30 bucks for it
in truth i always felt apple rarely does stupid stuff

charging for a bumper and taking a 29.70 profit is disgusting
shame on you pixar
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post #4 of 452
Your experience doesn't mirror mine, so like I said, this is a non-issue for me. I don't use cases or bumpers, so I don't care what they charge for it. What word did I spell wrong?
post #5 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The group adds, "most of the web sites reporting dropped signals and even dropped calls have demonstrated several techniques, or 'death grips' for recreating the problem (which we've yet been able to reproduce in a meaningful way). But those almost always require squeezing the phone hard, in an unnatural way. Those grips may also produce sweaty palms from exertion, with the sweat increasing conductivityand possibly the degree of signal loss."

Funny, I am able to reliably reproduce signal drop with a single finger against the band dividing the two antennas...
post #6 of 452
I must be made of rubber then.
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post #7 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marauder View Post

Funny, I am able to reliably reproduce signal drop with a single finger against the band dividing the two antennas...

But does it effect performance? Many have been able to make the bars do stupid dog tricks, all the while gabbing away or using an app.
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post #8 of 452
And I am old enough to remember when Consumer Reports was above paid reviews (blogging in today's vernacular).

They used to only review a category of products and impartially evaluate them, this blog entry just reeks.
post #9 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marauder View Post

Funny, I am able to reliably reproduce signal drop with a single finger against the band dividing the two antennas...

Can you show that the signal dropped a significant amount or simply that the bar indicator dropped? Is there any evidence that the iPhone 4 drops more calls than previous phones? So far, the evidence says the opposite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kresh View Post

And I am old enough to remember when Consumer Reports was above paid reviews (blogging in today's vernacular).

They used to only review a category of products and impartially evaluate them, this blog entry just reeks.

Do you have evidence that it was a paid review? If not, please stop spreading lies and slander.
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post #10 of 452
There are going to be a lot of people who suffer serious problems who won't trust Apple or reviewers ever again. This goes well beyond a slight problem, it's a huge problem with no case and will still be a problem with a case. It's great that the antenna works better than it did when it's not held as 95%, at least, of people will, but it's shocking how bad it is when you hold it normally. It's scandalous that reviewers and Apple are saying you have to squeeze it tight to experience any kind of serious signal loss, that isn't the case at all.
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post #11 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by kresh View Post

And I am old enough to remember when Consumer Reports was above paid reviews (blogging in today's vernacular).

They used to only review a category of products and impartially evaluate them, this blog entry just reeks.

David, is that you?

Anyway, I am sure the FTC and Justice Department would be delighted to receive your evidence of this charge. On the other hand I am going to guess that your evidence is that you just don't like their results. Understandable.
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post #12 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

But does it effect performance? Many have been able to make the bars do stupid dog tricks, all the while gabbing away or using an app.

It's 'affect', which is a verb, meaning to influence in some way. 'Effect' is a noun; the result of the verb 'affect'.
post #13 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

But does it effect performance? Many have been able to make the bars do stupid dog tricks, all the while gabbing away or using an app.

Even by those that don't have an iPhone.
post #14 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

But does it effect performance? Many have been able to make the bars do stupid dog tricks, all the while gabbing away or using an app.

It often completely destroys performance, but not all the time and not for everybody. You've been posting here for days on this issue and you can't work that out? Sheesh.
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post #15 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimsyswallows View Post

It's 'affect', which is a verb, meaning to influence in some way. 'Effect' is a noun; the result of the verb 'affect'.

You got me. I should know better, as do you.
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post #16 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

It often completely destroys performance, but not all the time and not for everybody. You've been posting here for days on this issue and you can't work that out? Sheesh.

Worked out what? I asked you a question and you gave me a good answer. I can't read your mind, nor have the time to go back and review all your posts if you said this before. Sorry.
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post #17 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimsyswallows View Post

It's 'affect', which is a verb, meaning to influence in some way. 'Effect' is a noun; the result of the verb 'affect'.

Um, wrong, troll, "effect" can be a verb also. though your correction was right.
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post #18 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

There are going to be a lot of people who suffer serious problems who won't trust Apple or reviewers ever again. This goes well beyond a slight problem, it's a huge problem with no case and will still be a problem with a case. It's great that the antenna works better than it did when it's not held as 95%, at least, of people will, but it's shocking how bad it is when you hold it normally. It's scandalous that reviewers and Apple are saying you have to squeeze it tight to experience any kind of serious signal loss, that isn't the case at all.

There is almost no one suffering. They THINK they are because all of these sites and 'news' sites are saying oh there is this huge issue lets sue APPLE!!!! And they think well I must be having the issue. Then they convince themselves they ARE having the issue. It is funny because I got my phone a day early and I actually get an added bar if I touch all 3 pieces... There is no Scandal. There is no shocking news.. It is all blown out of proportion. What should be blown up is how open the Droid marketplace is and how much information the apps on the marketplace can take from its users like malware.
Sheeshopete
post #19 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimsyswallows View Post

It's 'affect', which is a verb, meaning to influence in some way. 'Effect' is a noun; the result of the verb 'affect'.

Why would the Dictionary built into mac osx, refer to both 'affect' and 'effect' as BOTH verbs and nouns?
post #20 of 452
Bullshit. Save your money for iPhone 5, buy a cheaper 3G S. Or buy an Android phone.
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post #21 of 452
The AnandTech tests were the only effective and scientific tests conducted yet.

The results were clear.

1) The iPhone 4 gets a signal in areas with reception where earlier iPhones would be completely dead.
2) The iPhone 4 "death grip" issue is real, but it causes a maximum drop of 24dBm.
3) The only time it will be enough to drop a call is in cases where earlier iPhones would never have made a call, and would have simply displayed 0 bars. So, even after the death grip, the iPhone 4 still has much better reception than earlier iPhones.
4) The bar inflation issue is real.
5) Other phones suffer from attenuation just like the iPhone 4 does.
6) The iPhone 4 death grip attenuation is more than other phones' attenuation, but even after the attenuation, the signal is much better.
post #22 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Worked out what? I asked you a question and you gave me a good answer. I can't read your mind, nor have the time to go back and review all your posts if you said this before. Sorry.

I just find it staggering that you could have been posting in threads on this issue and have not gathered that slow or stunted speedtest.net results and failed calls etc are all issues that people are experiencing. If you hadn't read those posts for some reason, my apologies.
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post #23 of 452
Crap.

When will people learn that an attempted cover-up can be worse than the original offense?

Consumer Reports wants to go down with Apple?
post #24 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

There are going to be a lot of people who suffer serious problems who won't trust Apple or reviewers ever again. This goes well beyond a slight problem, it's a huge problem with no case and will still be a problem with a case. It's great that the antenna works better than it did when it's not held as 95%, at least, of people will, but it's shocking how bad it is when you hold it normally. It's scandalous that reviewers and Apple are saying you have to squeeze it tight to experience any kind of serious signal loss, that isn't the case at all.

Yeah, it's a lie actually. Keep in mind Daniel Eran is an Apple Shareholder. This seems to effect the stories he writes, and how he writes them.

What is interesting are people like Spam Sandwich: who is an Apple shareholder and can also asses things like this, honestly. He isn't afraid to call Apple out and say it as it is. We love him for that. He's not full of crap like some people.
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post #25 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marauder View Post

Funny, I am able to reliably reproduce signal drop with a single finger against the band dividing the two antennas...

Me too. It is an issue.

However, I have learned to just readjust my grip, the bars come back, and I am fine with that. It's a great product overall, so this is an inconvenience that I plan to live with (I hate the bumpers).

The real problem I have is when I am 3G-only, and I am web surfing, with the handset cupped in my left hand...... still woking on the appropriate grip for that one...... \
post #26 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

But does it effect performance? Many have been able to make the bars do stupid dog tricks, all the while gabbing away or using an app.

Yes, it does affect the performance on my iPhone.
post #27 of 452
I'm curious if people actually bother to read anything these days. Anadtech review is probably the best review done on the phone. They actually did scientific tests in numerous locations regarding the signal issue. I would trust them a lot more than I would trust a random Joe on You Tube or Consumer Reports. I'm sure the random Joe is having an issue but that might have more to do with having a poor signal where they are to begin with not being reported properly by the iPhone.

It's interesting that there seems to be none of these issues in Japan, only the U.S. and, I think in the U.K to a very limited degree.

It also has to go through FCC testing the same as every other phone and they never found a show stopping problem or they would have denied release until it was fixed.
post #28 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

There are going to be a lot of people who suffer serious problems who won't trust Apple or reviewers ever again. This goes well beyond a slight problem, it's a huge problem with no case and will still be a problem with a case. It's great that the antenna works better than it did when it's not held as 95%, at least, of people will, but it's shocking how bad it is when you hold it normally. It's scandalous that reviewers and Apple are saying you have to squeeze it tight to experience any kind of serious signal loss, that isn't the case at all.

So you are suggesting that Consumer Reports is covering for Apple? Wow. Look in the mirror and repeat: "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts."

I know it's no fun to have to admit that the iPhone 4 isn't fatally flawed after all, but seriously.
post #29 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by SustainUS View Post

There is almost no one suffering. They THINK they are because all of these sites and 'news' sites are saying oh there is this huge issue lets sue APPLE!!!! And they think well I must be having the issue. Then they convince themselves they ARE having the issue. It is funny because I got my phone a day early and I actually get an added bar if I touch all 3 pieces... There is no Scandal. There is no shocking news.. It is all blown out of proportion. What should be blown up is how open the Droid marketplace is and how much information the apps on the marketplace can take from its users like malware.
Sheeshopete

I know Android has issues and am very pleased that you are experiencing no problems and enjoying a wonderful iPhone 4. I wish I was you. I on the other hand am not. I'm not stupid and I certainly don't think because someone says the iPhone 4 has a problem that I should expect to experience it necessarily. I have the problem because time after time since my ip4 activated on the 24th June all I have to do is use my phone in a way that feels comfortable and helps my phone from falling out of my hand, that's the same way I held my iPhone 3G that I'd had since a week after it's launch, to get serious signal loss to the point where I can't load internet pages and get "call failed". I can't even make a call if I don't release my hand from the lower part of the left side of the phone before I make the call more often than not. So kindly respect that this for me is a big issue.
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post #30 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

I just find it staggering that you could have been posting in threads on this issue and have not gathered that slow or stunted speedtest.net results and failed calls etc are all issues that people are experiencing. If you hadn't read those posts for some reason, my apologies.

I had been reading them. Some report both bar display issues and performance issues. Others say the bars go down but experience no apparent loss of phone or data function. I was not ignorant of others' reports, just yours. Let's move on.
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post #31 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by MadIvan View Post

So you are suggesting that Consumer Reports is covering for Apple? Wow. Look in the mirror and repeat: "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts."

Yeah, it's a tough, whiney crowd here lately. Some threads have imploded so badly they read like the minutes of a tea-bagger meeting.
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post #32 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post

3) The only time it will be enough to drop a call is in cases where earlier iPhones would never have made a call, and would have simply displayed 0 bars.

Where do you get this crap? That's not true. Many Mac sites like TUAW, Insanely Great Mac, and even Leo Laporte are reporting this issue is more serious than that.

What you have just said is untrue.
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post #33 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marauder View Post

Funny, I am able to reliably reproduce signal drop with a single finger against the band dividing the two antennas...

Everyone can, as long as the signal isn't very strong.

Read this and Apple's press release for an explanation of how the bars reflect actual signal strength. What it boils down to is the iPhone 4 losing around -10 dB in signal more than many other smart phones when held in a certain way, and that drop, combined with what is normal for phones (about another -10 dB), combined with the way Apple represents bars (note that this is not just Apple), results in the bar loss we've seen so many times. On the flip-side, the iPhone 4 holds a signal very well at lower signal strengths. In the end it amounts to a phone which is more reliable than the iPhone 3GS.
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post #34 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Yeah, it's a lie actually. Keep in mind Daniel Eran is an Apple Shareholder. This seems to effect the stories he writes, and how he writes them.

What is interesting are people like Spam Sandwich: who is an Apple shareholder and can also asses things like this, honestly. He isn't afraid to call Apple out and say it as it is. We love him for that. He's not full of crap like some people.

Let's see, they're both shareholders but one says things you agree with and the other does not. And what lesson are we to take from this? That you are right? That those who disagree with your opinion are dishonest? Okay, but doesn't add much to the discussion I guess.
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post #35 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Right_said_fred View Post

Why would the Dictionary built into mac osx, refer to both 'affect' and 'effect' as BOTH verbs and nouns?

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post #36 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Let's see, they're both shareholders but one says things you agree with and the other does not.

That's how you see it.

One is a shareholder the other wears jeans and a black top going to Apple events. Not joking.
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post #37 of 452
oh hell-
i cant even make my connection drop a bar for phone calls or data even using my tongue to bridge the antennae...
go figure.

loving my iphone 4 in san francisco. where i have never had a dropped call(even with my 3g and 3gs)-and SF is notorious for drops-maybe there was a bad batch-but it more and more looking like a user issue. i don't know anyone who has had a problem-8 different people i know personally have increased reception.

-david

hope all your problems iron out!
good luck.
post #38 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Where do you get this crap? That's not true. Many Mac sites like TUAW, Insanely Great Mac, and even Leo Laporte are reporting this issue is more serious than that.

What you have just said is untrue.

What they said certainly isn't truethat the issue won't result in a loss of a phone callbut it isn't especially likely to cause a loss of a phone call unless it worsens an already terrible signal, or you really do hold it in an unnatural/uncomfortable way for extended periods of time (with the caveat that sweaty hands will worsen any applicable issue). As for news sources, a technical analysis counts for much more than a general report.

If you're having regular problems I'd suggest exchanging your phone.
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post #39 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I had been reading them. Some report both bar display issues and performance issues. Others say the bars go down but experience no apparent loss of phone or data function. I was not ignorant of others' reports, just yours. Let's move on.

My apologies then, I thought you were making a statement, not asking a question as such, to which you were addressing Marauder, not me. No hard feelings I hope. This issues is definitely bringing up a fair deal of hostility which is unfortunate and at times counter productive. Let's hope cooler heads prevail.
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post #40 of 452
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post

. . . that's the same way I held my iPhone 3G that I'd had since a week after it's launch

I genuinely do sympathize with you. I have no doubt that you are having these problems.

But something happened to me the other day that got me thinking. I was driving our new car and realized that there was a certain driving position that I was accustomed to using in our old car that I could not achieve in the new one. Same make, but a new year and model. It was just different. I am having to learn to get comfortable with a different geometry of hand, foot, and arm. I like the new car enough that I am willing to undergo the frustration of adjusting to a position that feels somewhat abnormal to me. But I am getting used to it.

The 4 is a new design too. Mine hasn't arrived yet, so I am speculating. Maybe after a period of adjusting to the minuses of this new design, the plus features will compensate? Just a thought to consider, not meant to minimize you negative experience at all.
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