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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
"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 conductivity?and 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.'"
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 451
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 451
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    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
  • Reply 3 of 451
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    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?
  • Reply 4 of 451
    maraudermarauder Posts: 2member
    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 conductivity?and 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...
  • Reply 5 of 451
    I must be made of rubber then.
  • Reply 6 of 451
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,234member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 451
    kreshkresh Posts: 379member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 451
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 451
    hands sandonhands sandon Posts: 5,270member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 451
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,234member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 451
    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'.
  • Reply 12 of 451
    onhkaonhka Posts: 1,025member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 451
    hands sandonhands sandon Posts: 5,270member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 451
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,234member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 451
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,234member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 451
    applebookapplebook Posts: 350member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 451
    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
  • Reply 18 of 451
    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?
  • Reply 19 of 451
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Bullshit. Save your money for iPhone 5, buy a cheaper 3G S. Or buy an Android phone.
  • Reply 20 of 451
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 821member
    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.
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