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Consumer Reports declares Apple addressed antenna issue with iPhone 4S

post #1 of 101
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Consumer Reports on Tuesday announced it is recommending the iPhone 4S to customers, stating that Apple's latest handset "doesn't suffer the reception problem we found in its predecessor."

The consumer advocacy group made waves last year when it ranked the iPhone 4 the best smartphone available on the market, but later changed its stance and declared it couldn't recommend the iPhone 4. Consumer Reports tested the iPhone 4 inside a controlled radio frequency isolation chamber, and found that covering the bottom left corner of the handset with one's bare hand could reduce reception.

But the group declared on Tuesday that it has conducted the same "special tests" in its labs with the iPhone 4S, and found that those supposed issues were resolved. The group also tested Apple's new 8GB iPhone 4, and said it "continues to exhibit that problem."

In addition to finding that the antenna issues were addressed, Consumer Reports also said it has not experienced any battery problems with the iPhone 4S. Some users have reported poor battery life with the device, and Apple is already testing a new build of iOS 5 designed to address that issue.

While Consumer Reports is now recommending the iPhone 4S, the group said that Apple's latest handset was unable to outscore the best new Android-based phones. Smartphones that Consumer Reports said ranked higher than the iPhone 4S were the Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola Droid Bionic, and "several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks."

Last year's "antennagate" controversy reached such a fever pitch after the release of the iPhone 4 that Apple was prompted to uncharacteristically host a press conference to explain that signal attenuation is something that occurs with all phones. In low-signal situations, gripping the bottom left corner of the iPhone 4 can cause a dropped call.

The issue can be resolved if a case is placed on the iPhone 4, covering the metal band on its exterior that serves as the antenna. Apple gave away free iPhone 4 cases for a limited time to alleviate those concerns, and the controversy largely subsided as the iPhone 4 went on to become the company's best selling smartphone yet.



Records set by the iPhone 4 are already set to be shattered by the iPhone 4S, as sales of Apple's latest smartphone topped four million in its first weekend alone. During his company's quarterly earnings conference call last month, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he's confident that a new record for iPhones will be set in the current holiday quarter.

One of the major features of the iPhone 4S is its redesigned antenna which allows for better reception and faster wireless data speeds. It's also compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks, making the iPhone 4S a "world" phone, and can connect to high-speed 14.4Mbps GSM HSDPA networks.
post #2 of 101
Donation check must have cleared.

Really, consumer reports used to be great for me, but over the last few years they seem to be more brand focused, have had better luck crowd sourcing information from reviews than their testing, Amazon ratings tend to be more accurate.
post #3 of 101
What would we do without Consumer Reports to illuminate us?
post #4 of 101
So glad they approved! </sarc>
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post #5 of 101
Whew. iPhone sales can now resume.
post #6 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

What would we do without Consumer Reports to illuminate us?

It's about time Apple ranked product report companies. After all, people listen to Apple.
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #7 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

So glad they approved! </sarc>
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They still down ranked the iPhone because it doesn't have a giant, low-resolution screen and it doesn't run on a network (4G) that currently requires first-generation, power-hungry baseband chips...

In other news.... Consumer Reports knocks off all cars that have less then 500 horsepower from their recommended list because they just aren't fast enough. They also mentioned: "We love our top pick because it has a ton of buttons. It took us hours to figure out how to take the car out of park."
post #8 of 101
[QUOTE] While Consumer Reports is now recommending the iPhone 4S, the group said that Apple's latest handset was unable to outscore the best new Android-based phones. Smartphones that Consumer Reports said ranked higher than the iPhone 4S were the Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola Droid Bionic, and "several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks." [QUOTE]

So, Consumer Reports confirms that Android is winning... This knowledge should spark another healthy drop in Apple's share price. Consumer Reports must have inside info that most consumers prefer large displays.
post #9 of 101
So it got slammed for not having a bigger display. Thank god it doesn't! I want something that fits in my pocket, not lug around like an antique calculator. I think Apple picked the perfect size and doesn't need to change it.

I guess because they didn't put a 4G indicator on it like AT&T wants, it's slower. Okay. Sure.

post #10 of 101
Could someone please explain to me the benefit of large screens and 4G?

New Android Phone, now too big to fit in your pocket! And fast enough to use your month's data allowance in five minutes flat!
it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
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it's = it is / it has, its = belonging to it.
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post #11 of 101
Slam Consumer Reports all you want, and they shouldn't be immune to criticism like anyone else, but I think it's good to have independent verification that the 4S has better antenna characteristics than the 4. This was certainly a black-eye for Apple, their excuse of "all phone have this problem, our phone doesn't have a problem" was corporate double-speak at its best/worst. The fact that the degraded antenna performance of the 4 was due to an aesthetic design goal just makes this worse.

And yes, I realize this didn't seem to effect sales at all. Sad that we, as consumers, now have to accept poorer voice quality in exchange for better looking, slimmer phones.
post #12 of 101
I hope the antenna fix fixed the BlueTooth also
post #13 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterRRRRRR View Post

Slam Consumer Reports all you want, and they shouldn't be immune to criticism like anyone else, but I think it's good to have independent verification that the 4S has better antenna characteristics than the 4. This was certainly a black-eye for Apple, their excuse of "all phone have this problem, our phone doesn't have a problem" was corporate double-speak at its best/worst. The fact that the degraded antenna performance of the 4 was due to an aesthetic design goal just makes this worse.

And yes, I realize this didn't seem to effect sales at all. Sad that we, as consumers, now have to accept poorer voice quality in exchange for better looking, slimmer phones.

I mean you choke a Nexus One it loses signal....

you put a finger to an iPhone 4 it loses signal...(from full to none depending on signal strength)

Not the same thing...kind of a big deal...but not as big a deal as a lot of people were making it out to be.
post #14 of 101
The fact that Consumer Reports ranked the iPhone 4 at the top of the smartphone category, but couldn't recommend it to consumers, shows a deep flaw in their rating process.
post #15 of 101
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post #16 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

The fact that Consumer Reports ranked the iPhone 4 at the top of the smartphone category, but couldn't recommend it to consumers, shows a deep flaw in their rating process.

The fact that they STILL refuse to recommend it a year and a half after the original non-existent problem and after a year and a half of the iPhone 4 being the best selling phone on the entire planet shows that Consumer Reports really doesn't have anything going for them.

I'm curious if they could tell me why I'm supposed to listen to them anymore.

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 #17 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

While Consumer Reports is now recommending the iPhone 4S, the group said that Apple's latest handset was unable to outscore the best new Android-based phones. Smartphones that Consumer Reports said ranked higher than the iPhone 4S were the Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola Droid Bionic, and "several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks."

OK. Let's see if we can follow this:

1. Consumer Reports says that the iPhone 4's antenna issue is a major problem and even though it's the top rated phone, they can't recommend it because of the antenna issue.

2. Consumer Reports says that the iPhone 4S doesn't have an antenna problem.

3. Consumer Reports recommends the Samsung Galaxy S and Motorola Droid Bionic over the iPhone 4S - even though these hones have the same antenna issue that stopped CR from recommending the iPhone 4.

Can you say 'hypocrite'?

I've been following CR reports of Apple products for over 20 years - and CR has NEVER fairly evaluated anything from Apple. They have always found some stupid, irrelevant nit to pick and focused on something insignificant as an excuse to recommend something else.

I'm not convinced that it's an anti-Apple bias. Rather, it seems to be CR's inability to actually test things that matter. Rather, they are better at looking at specs or things that they can measure in their lab. It's easy for them to measure a screen size and say "bigger is better". It's much harder for them to measure usability or customer satisfaction, so they pretend those things don't exist.

I remember one review from the 90s where they were evaluating Macs. The review said that the Mac was fast and efficient and managed to keep up with the competition - but they down rated it significantly because the clock speed was lower.

Bottom line is that CR is a useless source of reviews. If all you care about is clock speed or screen size, you can get the information from the manufacturer's site. If you want to know which is actually the BETTER product, it's beyond CR's abilities, so you should find a different review site.

Note, however, that the raw data isn't usually bad (at least, not when they're intentionally fudging the tests to make a car roll over). They do surveys which show repair rates and customer satisfaction and the data can probably be trusted (always keeping in mind selection bias). But their interpretations are usually suspect.
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post #18 of 101
No way was I going to buy a 4S until the Consumer Reports test report came out. They were so right last year about the antenna issue with the 4. Did Apple ever make a turkey when it made the 4!

I'll have to read CR's reports on the Android phones. There might be a better choice in that group. Consumer Reports will know.

</s>
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post #19 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

The fact that they STILL refuse to recommend it a year and a half after the original non-existent problem and after a year and a half of the iPhone 4 being the best selling phone on the entire planet shows that Consumer Reports really doesn't have anything going for them.

I'm curious if they could tell me why I'm supposed to listen to them anymore.

true or false:

In some areas where connection was not strong enough a single finger could detune the iPhone 4 antenna enough to have the signal go from full to no bars.
post #20 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

... I'm not convinced that it's an anti-Apple bias. Rather, it seems to be CR's inability to actually test things that matter. Rather, they are better at looking at specs or things that they can measure in their lab. It's easy for them to measure a screen size and say "bigger is better". It's much harder for them to measure usability or customer satisfaction, so they pretend those things don't exist. ...

Generally, the problem with CR is their, "inability to actually test things that matter." This has always been true of them. However, they do also have many biases that affect their testing, and an anti-Apple bias has historically been an issue with them. The bias problem, if one is aware of it, can be filtered when you read their reviews. Their inability to test things that matter is fatal.
post #21 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

true or false:

In some areas where connection was not strong enough a single finger could detune the iPhone 4 antenna enough to have the signal go from full to no bars.

true or false:

That "symptom" was a function of the displayed signal strength rather than an accurate reflection of signal strength.

What a troll. Dishonest to the core.

[insult removed]
post #22 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

true or false:

In some areas where connection was not strong enough a single finger could detune the iPhone 4 antenna enough to have the signal go from full to no bars.

There seems to be a contradiction in your question. You speak of an area where the connection was not strong enough, yet you also say that the signal would go from full to no bars. How does the phone have full bars if the signal is "not strong enough"?

To answer the question, I say false. With "full signal" on my iPhone 4, I cannot make it go to "no bars" by bridging the two antennas in the lower left corner of the phone. With "full bars", the best I can detune the antenna is two bars (maybe 3 if I press really hard). This was particularly true after the firmware update that modified how the iPhone 4 displayed signal strength. Of course, I also have to say that this is specifically with my iPhone 4 and those of a couple of friends of mine.
post #23 of 101
Granted it has only been a few weeks with my iPhone 4 with Sprint but I have yet to drop a call. I actually get better signal with my iPhone than I did with my Evo 3D. That was before I bought a case for it. So maybe they addressed the issue with the CDMA version.

Now my wife is eyeing my phone...looks as if I'll have to take her upgrade and give her my 4 and I'll get a 4S. All I know is I'm a happy camper.
post #24 of 101
I never had serious problems with the iP4 antenna. But there's no question the iP4S reception is better in various places.

Overall, none of my iPhones (or Android) has been as good as my old Blackberry or Motorola Razr, in terms of antenna performance.
post #25 of 101
I can't imagine anyone on this site, trolls included, would even consider using CR for any CE product review. Maybe for a dishwasher they are the best but for smartphones, computers, et al. there are hundreds of sites that are more thorough and better equipped for testing kit.

2) So what happened to the people claiming the design wasn't revolutionary and that Apple would have to recall each and every iPhone 4 tat hit the shelves because they foolishly put the antenna on the outside?


Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

It's about time Apple ranked product report companies. After all, people listen to Apple.




Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

They still down ranked the iPhone because it doesn't have a giant, low-resolution screen and it doesn't run on a network (4G) that currently requires first-generation, power-hungry baseband chips...

In other news.... Consumer Reports knocks off all cars that have less then 500 horsepower from their recommended list because they just aren't fast enough. They also mentioned: "We love our top pick because it has a ton of buttons. It took us hours to figure out how to take the car out of park."




Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Could someone please explain to me the benefit of large screens and 4G?

That's easy. Large screens and '4G' share a benefit of allowing you to advertise to customers in a way they understand. Things like 960x640, IPS, and 326ppi isn't relatable, but git ass 4.6" display is.

Big displays also have the benefit of being able to increase the volume of the device so you can put in a '4G' radio with a larger battery all without having to shrink or cram components into the svelte designs like the iPhone, that they compete with anyway.

I certainly don't want one of those devices but I can see how that business model is sound.


Quote:
Originally Posted by urinalcake View Post

I hope the antenna fix fixed the BlueTooth also

The WiFi and BT (same chip) antennas are back inside the device. Suprisingly, at least the WiFI antenna, has better performance than the iPhone 4.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Morky View Post

The fact that Consumer Reports ranked the iPhone 4 at the top of the smartphone category, but couldn't recommend it to consumers, shows a deep flaw in their rating process.

Excellent point.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

true or false:

In some areas where connection was not strong enough a single finger could detune the iPhone 4 antenna enough to have the signal go from full to no bars.

True of False:The bars are neither a scientific measure of signal strength or the ability to make calls.
True of False: AnandTech, the site that originally cracked the story, have shown that even with attenuation the iPhone 4 was able to connect and make a call in areas that other phones could not.
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post #26 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post

What would we do without Consumer Reports to illuminate us?

Well, I have found them quite handy for other consumer products.
post #27 of 101
Consumer who?
post #28 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

They still down ranked the iPhone because it doesn't have a giant, low-resolution screen and it doesn't run on a network (4G) that currently requires first-generation, power-hungry baseband chips...
"

I wonder if battery life was a criteria?
post #29 of 101
Thank god CR put the iphone back on its recommended list, cause you know, sales have been spotty.
post #30 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


I'm curious if they could tell me why I'm supposed to listen to them anymore.

Looking for a toaster?
post #31 of 101
Well, I would like a slightly bigger display. But not if the phone is going to be more than about 3mm wider. I've played with some of the giant phones, and for my average sized hands, they're simply too big. Uncomfortable is not what I'm looking for in a phone. If Apple can put a 3.8 to 4" screen in a phone not much bigger than my 4s, then I would be very happy. A slightly bigger screen would make it easier to type in portrait mode, though it's good now.

As far as LTE goes, I agree that it's not ready. If we look at the phone reviews in Anandtech, we can see that the battery life of LTE phones is one THIRD of the 4s. That's ridiculous! I've read posts from people that say that iPhone users are too lazy to "manage" their phone, and that's ridiculous too. We shouldn't have to manage our phones. I did a test with a friend who has one. By the time he turned LTE on, went to the browser and found his page, downloaded the content, turned off the browser and turned off LTE, I had already finished on my "slow" 4s.

It's a crock right now.
post #32 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForceQuit View Post

Looking for a toaster?

Only if they rate one very high but can't recommend it because "if you put a bagel in a slot in a certain way, it doesn't get toasted to our liking".

I'd buy whichever toaster that is in a heartbeat.

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 #33 of 101
While CR was right to make a fuss over the antenna issue it seems to me that it is CR and not Apple that has suffered a hit to its reputation as a result of this whole affair.

Apple has been untouched by all of this and has enjoyed fabulous sales. CR, on the other hand, has appeared to be rather insignificant in that evidently consumers don't care what CR has to say about a product.

How CR has ended up with a failing grade on this one I'm not sure but that is what has happened.

I'll be watching with interest what the impact will be on the Honda Civic which recently got a failing grade from CR. Lots of the 9th Gen Civics on the road in southern Ontario already so maybe this will prove to be another example of how little sway CR now has with consumers. I do have to admit, though, that all along the only aspect of CR's automotive coverage that has mattered to me has been its reliability data. In that regard, CR admits that the Civic is likely to remain reliable and as such the one aspect of the car's value that CR helped promote remains a strength.
post #34 of 101
CR is just so-so at summarizing. They're ignoramuses about important issues and details. It takes me about 1 minute to read an issue. If I didn't receive CR as a gift every year, I'd most certainly pass.
post #35 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


But the group declared on Tuesday that it has conducted the same "special tests" in its labs with the iPhone 4S, and found that those supposed issues were resolved.



I hate Consumer Reports. I never believe a word that they say.

post #36 of 101
These idiots are just trying to make amends without actually having to admit they were wrong. My iPhone 4 has consistently had rock solid reception. It's been by far the best phone I've ever owned. By far. Granted, I want a 4S, but I'm under contract, so it would be stupidly expensive for me to upgrade. I'm hoping we see an iPhone 5 next summer.
post #37 of 101
Not here to debate with everyone but I had receptions issues (both signal bars, dropped calls and data to stop downloading) from the very first day I got my 4 (launch day). I didn't want to use a case since I really loved the way the 4 looked and felt in my hand but finally resorted to one. I was reminded of this when my case ended up falling apart and I used it for a few weeks without a case again.

That being said I still enjoyed everything else about the 4. I upgraded to a 4S and have not had one single issue with reception. I am also now able to have a naked phone which I really enjoy

Give me the smaller phone I can use with one hand and better battery life any day over 4G and larger screen.
post #38 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

Could someone please explain to me the benefit of large screens and 4G?

New Android Phone, now too big to fit in your pocket! And fast enough to use your month's data allowance in five minutes flat!

CR's opinions are out of touch with what consumers really value in smartphones. Withholding recommendation for the iPhone 4, which has been a very successful and popular product worldwide, shows how irrelevant they have become. I'm glad consumers have made up their own damn minds rather than listen to these clowns.

Their fascination with bigger screens and 4G over Apple's very polished, consumer focused App Store and mature ecosystem shows that they lean more in the direction of your average geek hardware benchmark/spec whore rather than the values of the average non-geek consumer.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #39 of 101
Since the ratings seem dependent upon display size, I conclude that Apple simply needs to add a native telephony solution (which it technically has already due to FaceTime) and iPad is the best smartphone or did everyone all the sudden decide that the iPad actually is a PC? iPad can't be a tablet since there isn't a tablet market; there is only an iPad market (as well as a media tablet market ala Barnes & Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle). I can't wait until Apple creates an iTV with FaceTime, iTunes and Siri integration. With even a relatively small 27" cinema display an iTV would be the best "mobile" smartphone available.

http://news.consumerreports.org/elec...EXTKEY=I72RSE0

"These pluses were not enough, however, to allow the iPhone 4S to outscore the best new Android-based phones in our Ratings. Those top scorers included the Samsung Galaxy S II phones, the Motorola Droid Bionic, and several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks. (Technically, only the AT&T version of the iPhone 4S supports 4G, running on the carrier's HSPA+ network at download speeds of about 14 megabits per second, the bottom rung of what is considered to be 4G network speed.)

Other phones that topped the iPhone 4S include the LG Thrill ($100 on AT&T), which has the ability to capture stills and videos in 3D, as well as display them on its 4.3-inch 3D display, and the Motorola Droid Bionic ($300 on Verizon), which also has a superb 4.3-inch, high-resolution (540 x 960) display, with excellent keypad readability under most lighting conditions, even in bright light."
post #40 of 101
My iPhone 4 did not work in various parts of my home. My iPhone 4S works everywhere. While I'm not a C.R. fan by any means, they were right about the antenna issue, from my experience. While the faster processor and Siri are nice, it's the phone's reception that matters the most to me...and the 4S delivers.
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