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Consumer Reports offers scathing critique on Verizon iPhone 4

post #1 of 166
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While awarding Apple's iPhone 4 its highest ratings across the board last summer, Consumer Reports is now warning users to wait, calling it "middle aged" and doubting whether Verizon will offer the unlimited data contracts it is said it would.

In a blog posting, Paul Reynolds and Mike Gikas write that the Verizon iPhone 4 is "promising, but likely to be short-lived," saying that "it may be quickly replaced by a newer, cooler version more quickly than is customary even for the die-young life expectancy of most smart phones."

Apple has historically rolled out a new iPhone model once each year, making the Verizon iPhone 4 a mid-year carrier expansion, not a new phone release. However, most observers expect Apple to release iPhone 5 as an update for GSM/UMTS carriers this summer, rather than aiming at replacing what will be the less than six-month old iPhone 4 on Verizon.

When Apple dramatically lowered the price of the original iPhone within months of its release, it gave customers a refund in the form of a store credit, something that's nearly unheard of in the fast moving world of technology products.

Other smartphone makers release new models every few months, with Motorola, for example, releasing the Droid X just months after its original Droid launched, then following up with the Droid Pro and Droid 2 models within another six months. Consumer Reports does not warn users not to buy Motorola's Droid phones because a new model will be released within six months, making its warnings about Verizon's iPhone 4 seem inconsistent.

To 4G, or not to 4G?

The blog posting also criticized Verizon's iPhone 4 offering as being 3G "at a time when carriersVerizon among themhave launched faster 4G networks and phones that work on them." However, while Verizon began rolling out its new "4G" LTE data network in December, it doesn't offer widespread coverage and isn't yet usable for voice calls.

Additionally, the 4G phones Verizon showed at CES earlier this month aren't yet available and won't be "launched" until the middle of 2011. If Consumer Reports is worried about iPhone 4 being refreshed, it should also be warning all Verizon users to hold off buying phones because of the new batch of LTE models being offered within six months.

If it starts doing that, it can continue to warn users to never buy a new smartphone because Motorola, Samsung and HTC will continue to release new and improved models every few months.

Inventing issues for iPhone 4

Similarly, the posting complains that iPhone 4 on Verizon suffers from "CDMA's shortcomings," including an inability to use voice and data simultaneously and the lack of a global roaming option, without similarly warning that every phone on Verizon and Sprint has the same characteristics.

Also highlighted as a strike against iPhone 4 is its 3.5 inch screen, "in an era where the number of smart phones with 4 inch-plus screens has swelled." In reality, Verizon only offers two Android models with 4 inch or larger screens, the Droid X and Samsung Fascinate, although the Droid 2 is in the middle at 3.7 inches.

Verizon's Droid Pro is actually smaller at just 3.1 inches, with a much lower 480x320 resolution. And of course, all of the large-screen smartphones offer far lower pixel density than iPhone 4 because they offer lower resolutions on a bigger panel.



Among Verizon's mass market Android models, only one is slightly larger than iPhone 4: the HTC Droid Incredible, with a 3.7 inch screen. Other models all offer smaller screens ranging from 3 inches to 3.4 inches, and again offer lower pixel counts, some with only a quarter of the pixels of iPhone 4's Retina Display.



Question marks against iPhone 4

The group also said it expects "Verizon will use the phone's launch to make its promised switch from unlimited data plans to the tiered or metered plans now used by AT&T," prevening iPhone 4 users from signing up on its unlimited data contracts.

Verizon says in its iPhone 4 FAQ that "iPhone customers will need to choose from any of the current Nationwide plans. Customers will also be required to activate a data package, pricing will be announced at a later date," suggesting that the carrier is still in the process of determining whether it should charge iPhone 4 users more for the same service, or restrict them from buying unlimited contracts.

"That may not necessarily mean higher costs for data than with an unlimited plan," the group wrote. "The AT&T metered plans actually lowered bills for many users, according to our analysis."

It also worried whether Verizon would be able to handle the influx of new iPhone users, claiming that "some iPhone owners are data hogs, with consumption that's significantly above owners of many other smart phones." According to Verizon however, Android users actually use more data on average than iPhone users on AT&T.

Verizon iPhone for fanboys only

In language uncharacteristic of the normally objective-sounding Consumer Reports advice, even when concerning products like cars and cameras where buyers might have strong affiliations with a given brand, the posting described potential Verizon iPhone 4 adopters as "breathless" fanatics who were spendthrift and ignorant "addicts."

"You may want snap up this new offering if you've been waiting breathlessly for the iPhone to come to Verizon and don't much care about 4G speed, a bigger screen, or other features found on current cutting-edge phones," wrote Reynolds and Gikas. "Or if you're prepared to pay an early termination fee to trade in the Verizon iPhone 4 for its successor when it appears.

"The less iPhone-addicted consumer, on the other hand, may want to hold off for a newer version of the iPhone before even considering whether to buy one," the report concluded.

Consumer Reports Antennagate waffling

The magazine's increasingly apparent lack of objectivity in smartphones began when the group embroiled itself in the Antennagate "controversy" last July.

After first writing that significant signal attenuation issues could not be scientifically observed, were not unique to the new phone, and concluding that there's "no reason not to buy iPhone 4" despite the rumors about its antenna problems then being floated by Gizmodo, the group's opinion changed dramatically on the basis on non-scientific observations.

Two weeks later, the company's blog posted a retraction based on videos posted on YouTube and new observations made by its bloggers, who changed their stance to say that it "can't recommend" iPhone 4 until Apple addressed their concerns with a free fix.

We can't recommend our highest rated smartphone

At the same time, Consumer Reports was assigning iPhone 4 its highest rankings of all the phones it tested. Despite its official rankings obscured behind a pay wall, the group also noted that, while it refused to officially recommend the phone, "its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest ratings of smart phones that were released today."

John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal "Digital Daily" blog noted that the site's paid evaluation rated the display, navigation, web browsing, multimedia and battery life of iPhone 4 as "excellent," gave its phoning and messaging a "very good" ranking, and described voice quality as "good."

"Well this is ironic," Paczkowski wrote. "iPhone 4 is hands-down the best smartphone available today, but Consumer Reports advises against buying it."

Even after Apple released free bumpers for iPhone 4 users, Consumer Reports continued to refused to officially recommend the phone, even as it did recommend models that also exhibited the same signal attenuation issues, including RIM's BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC's Android Droid Eris, Samsung's Windows Mobile Omnia II, Nokia's N97, and Motorola's Droid X, all of which Apple included on its Smartphone Antenna Performance page.
post #2 of 166
Something about Consumer Reports referring to the iPhone as "middle aged" is quite amusing. I mean, their reports on new-fangled gizmos like "clothes-washing machines" and "electric ice-boxes" are handy, but they just don't seem to have kept up with what the kids like these days.
post #3 of 166
CR has lost credibility with me. Do they warn users of middle/end of product cycles for other phones?
2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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2011 13" 2.3 MBP, 2006 15" 2.16 MBP, iPhone 4, iPod Shuffle, AEBS, AppleTV2 with XBMC.
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post #4 of 166
They're pissed off because even non-recommending the iPhone 4 it still sold millions. They're pissed people didn't listen to them.
post #5 of 166
Consumer Reports just went bananas.

Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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Which of us is the fisherman and which the trout?

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post #6 of 166
I've dealt with CS off and on, in a couple different industries - even just as a "local" info source for automotive info. Strictly as a personal comment, I'd say CS is pissed-off because they expected a "donation" to their operating expenses from Apple by now.

And didn't get it.
post #7 of 166
Somebody should remind Consumer Reports that the iPhone 3G from many moons ago are still selling like hotcakes, at prices more than the new/used 4Gs.

iPhone and any Apple product for that matter is a gem not a commodity item.

Tell Consumer Reports to just SHUT UP!
post #8 of 166
Looks like CR have been infiltrated by Google fanbois. The "not recommend" on the ATT iPhone 4 despite is scoring the highest ever mark for a mobile phone is all well and good. BUT this new information only appears to reinforce this idea.
post #9 of 166
Looks like it's time to cancel your Consumer Report subscription. That, or they should fire those two reviewers.
post #10 of 166
Jun 2007: iPhone
Jul 2008: iPhone 3G
Jun 2009: iPhone 3GS (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2010: iPhone 4
Jun 2011: iPhone 4S (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2012: iPhone 5
post #11 of 166
Daniel, your argument would hold more water if your very disposition didn't sound biased to begin with. And I don't mean this story, but every story you write. It's like you have your agenda before you set out to write your "report".
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #12 of 166
Something strange is going on over at CR. They seem to have a bug up their a** over the iPhone. Someone earlier suggested that they didn't get the "donation" they hoped for from Apple. It sure seems like their could be something to that.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #13 of 166
Well, if they hadn't lost all credibility before, this should do it for them. Based on their criteria, no one should ever buy any smartphone. They've gone well beyond the attention whoring of this past summer to simply idiotville.
post #14 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Daniel, your argument would hold more water if your very disposition didn't sound biased to begin with. And I don't mean this story, but every story you write. It's like you have your agenda before you set out to write your "report".

Ireland, are you new here?
post #15 of 166
Newsflash:

There is a newer version of something coming.

Glad this came out. Never knew that.
post #16 of 166
Consumer Reports is now in the business of determining obsolescence as well? the iP4 is middle-aged compared to what? Should it be compared to Android phones that are obsolete essentially 15 minutes after it's introduced since the makers create new phone with locked / difficult-to-upgrade OS?

I'll take a "middle-aged" iPhone anyday. Heck, I've had my iPhone 2G for almost three years before I got the iP4.

Consumer Report, get back to testing stuff. Stay away from propaganda.
post #17 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

They're pissed off because even non-recommending the iPhone 4 it still sold millions. They're pissed people didn't listen to them.

Yeah...though there is truth about the criticism of the iPhone's small screen and the limitations of Verizon's network, for some reason CR has never liked the fact that despite their "warning", the iPhone 4 has been the most successful cell phone in history.
post #18 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Jun 2007: iPhone
Jul 2008: iPhone 3G
Jun 2009: iPhone 3GS (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2010: iPhone 4
Jun 2011: iPhone 4S (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2012: iPhone 5

Interesting supposition, but the G really needed that speed bump, the 4 doesn't. Things are moving so rapidly in the smartphone market now that a speed-only model change would risk Apple losing ground to imitators. I think a 5, or at least a 4S with something more than just a speed bump is called for.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #19 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Jun 2007: iPhone
Jul 2008: iPhone 3G
Jun 2009: iPhone 3GS (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2010: iPhone 4
Jun 2011: iPhone 4S (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2012: iPhone 5

What does this list have to do with anything?

And first of all, what incomprehensible logic leads you to believe they'd call the sixth iPhone iPhone 5?

Quote:
Originally Posted by msantti View Post

Could have a iPhone 4g this year and he'll, maybe a iPhone 4gs next year and then iPhone 7 in 2013!

No way would they call a product 4 and a separate, distinct product 4G.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #20 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Jun 2007: iPhone
Jul 2008: iPhone 3G
Jun 2009: iPhone 3GS (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2010: iPhone 4
Jun 2011: iPhone 4S (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2012: iPhone 5

Jun 2012 would be iPhone 6.

iPhone 4 was the 4th iPhone.

Could have a iPhone 4g this year and he'll, maybe a iPhone 4gs next year and then iPhone 7 in 2013!
post #21 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Jun 2007: iPhone
Jul 2008: iPhone 3G
Jun 2009: iPhone 3GS (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2010: iPhone 4
Jun 2011: iPhone 4S (speed bump, same form factor)
Jun 2012: iPhone 5

That will be the 6th iPhone, not 5th so I dont think it could be called that. Personally I hope the next one is iPhone 5, followed by iPhone 6. Once we get to 4G well be stuck on that for so many years that it wont be worth marketing anymore.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Consumer Reports is now in the business of determining obsolescence as well? the iP4 is middle-aged compared to what? Should it be compared to Android phones that are obsolete essentially 15 minutes after it's introduced since the makers create new phone with locked / difficult-to-upgrade OS?

I'll take a "middle-aged" iPhone anyday. Heck, I've had my iPhone 2G for almost three years before I got the iP4.

Consumer Report, get back to testing stuff. Stay away from propaganda.

CR has really gone downhill. Not only does it seem like the iPhone kicked their dog, the point you mention about predicting the future is mind shattering to me.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #22 of 166
Someone needs to check if Google bought Consumer Reports. Freaking Droid lovers.
post #23 of 166
Or, since we're going down the naming convention rat hole anyway, why not resurrect the "Plus" moniker in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Mac Plus? The iPhone 4 Plus. Double-plus good, no?
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #24 of 166
Sounds like click-bait. Ignore it!
post #25 of 166
Here we go again. CR provides a bit of spin, then AI gives CR's comments huge backspin and calls it fair.
Please don't be insane.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #26 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaipher View Post

Looks like it's time to cancel your Consumer Report subscription. That, or they should fire those two reviewers.


Just did.
post #27 of 166
After the way Consumer Reports was so crazy over the antenna issue I canceled my subscription immediately. This abuse is even worse. Vote with your dollars. Hit them where it hurts!
post #28 of 166
Did anyone but me read the actual article? I'm still looking for the "scathing critique" part. Every issue they raise are exactly the same ones raised by posters right here on this board. CR says it and they are the spawn of Satan.
Please don't be insane.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #29 of 166
What a laugher. If you like a phone and it or the manufacturer has a decent history of reliability, it meets your needs, fits in your budget, then you buy it. The CR folks offer virtually no useful information - just hyper-opinions. Obviously, these devices have life cycle issues that more informed buyers will consider. But a good phone that meets your need does not become obsolete because a newer-better model has come out.
post #30 of 166
So . . . I'm confused. Whenever CR disses the iPhone they are deemed a rag, on the take, uncredible, etc. When they diss AT&T they are not a rag, on the take, nor uncredible.

Am I missing something?
post #31 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by danyak View Post

What a laugher. If you like a phone and it or the manufacturer has a decent history of reliability, it meets your needs, fits in your budget, then you buy it. The CR folks offer virtually no useful information - just hyper-opinions. Obviously, these devices have life cycle issues that more informed buyers will consider. But a good phone that meets your need does not become obsolete because a newer-better model has come out.

That's an interesting point.
post #32 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Verizon iPhone for fanboys only

In language uncharacteristic of the normally objective-sounding Consumer Reports advice, even when concerning products like cars and cameras where buyers might have strong affiliations with a given brand, the posting described potential Verizon iPhone 4 adopters as "breathless" fanatics who were spendthrift and ignorant "addicts."

I guess everyone buying current iPhone 4 for AT&T (and other GSM market) are Apple fanboys? Gadgets get replaced all the time. Some, like many on this board, likes to get latest and greatest. But many don't care or prefer to buy more proven stuff.
post #33 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by AAPLforLife View Post

After the way Consumer Reports was so crazy over the antenna issue I canceled my subscription immediately. This abuse is even worse. Vote with your dollars. Hit them where it hurts!

Yep I did after the antenna issue as well, can't say I miss it, plenty of other places online to get similar data anymore...

Of course these are the same folks that still feel there's nothing better to drive out there then a Toyota even after all their issues over the last year. Yet another recommendation that people aren't listening to...
post #34 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post

So . . . I'm confused. Whenever CR disses the iPhone they are deemed a rag, on the take, uncredible, etc. When they diss AT&T they are not a rag, on the take, nor uncredible.

Am I missing something?

Yes, the double standard. The almost-hilarious-if-it-wasn't-so-sad part is, they're making exactly the same observations we hear every day from posters on this board -- about AT&T, about Verizon's network, about simultaneous voice and data, about the minimal changes to the phone, tiered data plans... you name it.
Please don't be insane.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #35 of 166
Quote:
If Consumer Reports is worried about iPhone 4 being refreshed, it should also be warning all Verizon users to hold off buying phones because of the new batch of LTE models being offered within six months.
[...]
Similarly, the posting complains that iPhone 4 on Verizon suffers from "CDMA's shortcomings," including an inability to use voice and data simultaneously and the lack of a global roaming option, without similarly warning that every phone on Verizon and Sprint has the same characteristics.

This particular point has been driving me up the wall as anti-Verizon iPhone sentiment circulates around the blogosphere. The iPhone's limitations w/regard to 3G vs. 4G, and lack of simultaneous voice and data, are no different from all the Android phones Verizon is selling now, and has been selling for a while.

So if these points are dealbreakers, then please immediately recommend against buying any 3G phone, and any Verizon smartphone at all.

It is true that the Verizon iPhone 4 might have a short life as a flagship product, to be bumped down to second tier in 4 months if/when Apple introduces a Verizon iPhone 5. So what?

So kudos to DED for appropriately pointing this out, even if it is wrapped inside a typically Apple-biased article. </left-handed-compliment>
post #36 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Daniel, your argument would hold more water if your very disposition didn't sound biased to begin with. And I don't mean this story, but every story you write. It's like you have your agenda before you set out to write your "report".

Whether or not he has a bias doesn't change the facts of the story. And in so far as bias, ummm.. kettle calling the pot black?
post #37 of 166
So, is everyone who has an iPhone 4 now going to be outraged that a newer model will be coming out in a few months? Or does it possibly mean that there's going to be a lot of owners of an iPhone 4 that might get a new phone when their current contracts are up?
post #38 of 166
By the way, CR still lists the iPhone 3GS as one of its recommended phones on ATT.

But you shouldn't buy the Verizon iPhone4 because it doesn't have all the cool features of the other current phones.
post #39 of 166
Back in the day I used to subscribe to CR - they had a fine, well equipped testing laboratory. Their reports were unbiased and they eschewed funding other then through their magazine subscriptions and its advertising. Slowly they became more commercialized and, in my opinion more biased. I stopped subscribing and no longer even consider their reviews.

This seems to go over the top - they are making comments about products they have never even held in their hands, let alone independently tested.

Goodbye and good riddance Consumer Reports.
post #40 of 166
Do people really care what Consumer Report says about phones anymore?
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