Radio engineer: Consumer Reports iPhone 4 testing flawed

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  • Reply 61 of 193
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vrkiran View Post


    Everyone is a scientist. If it's pro Apple stock, it's bound to get a mention on AI. Last week CR was a great publication known for their honesty, this week, it's ignorant and unscientific!



    Ug. Are you blind?



    I'm sure AI's coverage of the Consumer Reports review itself was pro Apple stock too, right?
  • Reply 62 of 193
    rrrobrrrob Posts: 17member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wtbard View Post


    There's been a lot of bad information put out. Attenuation has been called interference. Transmit power levels called receive levels.



    From the video, it looks like what was tested was the iPhone transmit power as received by their simulator. As far as I can tell, no one has measured receive power levels which are what are displayed on the iPhone bars.



    This was definitely not a rigorous test but more like a demo. It would be good to have a real engineering company with experience with cell phones to take measurements, but that likely would cost more than the media is willing to pay.



    The problem is, a truly rigorous test requires directly interfacing with the phone's baseband hardware through the operating system so that the phone's hardware and software can be put into fixed, known transmit and receive states. This is typically done using in-house developed computer programs talking to unpublished APIs in the phone operating system?things no cell phone manufacturer reveals, least of all Apple. The best that can be done outside of this is with a setup fairly similar to what CR used in order to actively control the environment the phone is operating in, instead of the phone itself.
  • Reply 63 of 193
    donarbdonarb Posts: 52member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Yeah, I don't really want to jump on the CR bashing bandwagon, but, as has been pointed out before, if you actually know something about products of a given type, one will find that the reviews on CR tend to focus on irrelevant features and rarely end up recommending the product a knowledgeable consumer would choose. It's been that way for as long as I can remember.



    Exactly. I remember a few years ago reading their review of a small sports car. Their main complaint was that there wasn't enough head room for a six-foot two-inch man. Well, duh!
  • Reply 64 of 193
    katonahkatonah Posts: 95member
    This thread and the others on the subject are just a bunch of b.s. In the real world 99.999% of the users have no problem and everyone focuses on the .001 percent that do. There is no doubt in my mind that in areas of weak cell signals, you may have a problem with the iphone 4 dropping calls, just like other phones. Since most people use some sort of case I would imagine that the .001 percent figure could be cut in half, at least. So it is a very small number I would imagine.



    I have an iphone 4, in Westchester, NY. It works great, and I am unable to replicate any problem when I grip it my left or right hand. I have a strong signal, stronger than with my 3gs. The battery life is better and their are a lot of amazing features on this phone. It's just that blogs and the media love to stir things up on the most minute of affected users.



    I have a car, and it got a flat tire once. Guess I should start a law suit against the manufacturer of the car, the tire, the asphalt company and the town in which the tire became flat. Because all products are perfect and if they are less than perfect BRING ON THE CLASS ACTION SUITS!



    BTW if I sound unsympathetic to those .001 % affected, I'm not. Get your refund from Apple (free of restocking charge) and buy a droid! Or go back to 3gs!
  • Reply 65 of 193
    I've had the iPhone 4 since the first day. I was able to replicate the bars decrementing in the signal display. When my Bumper case arrived from Apple, the symptom went away. I must say that there has been no significant difference in the performance of my iPhone 4. It works just great! It is the best of the iPhones and I've had all four models.



    The crap being perpetuated in the media is just Schadenfreude!



    Folks, get a real life!
  • Reply 66 of 193
    cvrcvr Posts: 5member
    As someone with a background in electronics, I know that high-frequency electronic design is the hardest area of all. Predicting the behavior of radio waves, and high-frequency signals in general, is hard, hard, hard. And the higher the frequencies are, the harder the predictions are.



    The illustration that was given at my university was simple: take a closed metal box, and screw in two Coax plugs at two opposite walls without any connection between them, and put a signal on one of the plugs. At low frequencies there is obviously no signal on the other plug, because the inner leads of the two coax plugs are not connected. As you increase the frequency of the signal there is a weak signal due to the capacitance between the two connectors and tricky interactions with the metal box. The signal gets stronger for higher and higher frequencies, but sometimes it also drops in strength again. In fact, at some frequencies the signal is transmitted from one plug to another without any significant loss.



    If you're really smart, put in a lot of effort, and make a number of simplifying assumptions, you can predict what will happen for a setup like this, but a scratch in the metal of the box can already have such an influence that your prediction is worthless. Therefore, real engineers will be very, very, careful about what they are saying about a complex system such as a cell phone. Of course that makes them boring to the average guy, because they don't say anything snappy.



    What Bob Egan is saying is that the CR people have made a couple of mistakes in their test setup that makes it useless to evaluate the performance in real-life use. That may disappoint people that want to hear different things, but he definitely has a point.



    What annoys me at the Apple forums is that there are always armchair engineers who know better: It's obviously because your finger is shorting the two antennas! At such high frequencies things are not as simple as that, and putting tape over the gap doesn't work. Or it does, or doesn't, or certainly doesn't, depending which blog you're reading, but the majority verdict seems to be that it doesn't work. In any case, this piece of armchair engineering wisdom has a very shaky foundation, so it is better to ignore it.



    Oh, and this is CLEARLY a hardware problem and Apple should just own up to the problem and recall all phones, and avoid an epic disaster, and fire their entire design staff, and .... As far as I can tell, it is still possible that a software fix will eliminate the problem. Signal processing of high-frequency signals is perhaps even trickier than HF hardware design, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if some clever guy/gall somewhere at Apple comes up with a way to avoid or at least reduce the problem.



    And if Apple announces that they have found a bug in the way signal strength is displayed, that is immediately dismissed as nonsense by the armchair engineers, because they had the same software in the previous phones, and they are admitting they are faking things, and how can you do something like this wrong, and it is clearly a coverup for, erm, yes, well, Apple is just evil, you know. The truth is that when you write code, now and then you revisit your code to clean things up, improve it, and perhaps adapt it to a new cell phone chip that has a different way of communicating the signal strength. And signal strength varies ENORMOUSLY, so these five small bars will always be a somewhat abstract representation of this signal strength anyway. Still, It would be nice if better signal means more bars and vice versa, and that doesn't seem to be the case at the moment. Oops. Nobody's perfect.



    Sorry for the long post, but since people are venting in these forums anyway, why not do the same in my way? Oh well, the armchair engineers will always be louder than the real ones, I think I will have to live with that. Yes, I feel much quieter now, I'll take my coat and leave, shall I?
  • Reply 67 of 193
    freddychfreddych Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kiwee View Post


    If CR is such a known and respected organization,

    how come Apple has not commented on it?



    If my company had just released a product and CR did not recommend it.

    I would comment on that.



    I know Apple does not comment on much. Accept when stuff isn't true.

    Remember that Steve Jobs back and forth mail thing a couple of weeks ago some guy tried to sell.

    They came out and said that was fake.



    I guess they are hoping this will die down. Or scrambling to figure out what the problem is.

    If they had known about this before hand, why did they not put the seam on the bottom?



    This whole thing is crazy. COMMENT ON IT.

    I know they sent out a pressrelease. But that did not mention the seam did it?

    It just said, all phones does this.



    One more thing. My 3GSs baseband is fubar after 4.0. 3G service jumps up and done like never before. Something is not right. Why mess with it in the first place. It worked fine.



    Exactly!



    This whole thing is crazy. Apple is a great company. Any great company that has a problem, would address the problem right away.



    Thus, since Apple is neither giving away free bumpers, nor offering any sort of fix nor instructions on a fix, there is no problem! If my company were to have a problem, we'd fix it. Clearly, there's no problem here.
  • Reply 68 of 193
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Instead of apple getting their image tarnished consumer reports are, as they should, I cut my subscription to these guys this year, little quality...
  • Reply 69 of 193
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Do I need to make phone calls and want a highly reliable way of doing that? If the answer to that is yes, then no. 'Cause the iPhone isn't highly-releaible in that department. The Nexus One is similarly not highly-releaible in that department. So neither of them are suited to that type of customer. If you're a guy who make a lot of important calls, get something else. Or get a 3G S.



    Is there such a thing as a reliable cell phone? I've been using them a long time on many different carriers and I currently have a 3GS. I have yet to own a cell phone that I would call reliable. I guess it depends on what your definition of reliable is or what you consider important phone calls, because if I was to call, let's say a prospective new client, I would not use a cell phone for fear of sounding unprofessional with all the static, audible delay or possible dropped call. Cell phone call quality is pretty bad.
  • Reply 70 of 193
    rrrobrrrob Posts: 17member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Scafe2 View Post


    Egan notes that it is not known "what part of this problem is Apple?s and what part is related to the AT&T network. And we don?t know how the observed effect is, or is not, similar to other devices.



    Why does he think / suggest that this is only connected to the AT&T Network,..over in the Uk I am on the O2 network and have the same issues,.... Time for a re- think Mr Egan one thinks



    Since the cellular carriers all buy from the same small set of base station hardware and software vendors, and the networks need to be interoperable for roaming to have a chance of working, it's entirely possible that Telefónica O2 has a network setup similar to AT&T's. Though there are always the inevitable, carrier-specific tweaks to their systems for the phones' software to contend with?
  • Reply 71 of 193
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Go read what the guy's written in his blog.



    That's what we call "ruin the reputation" (provided he had one)



    Quote:

    We also don’t know if placing a finger on the antenna bridge is detuning the antenna or detuning the receiver itself.



    It then takes more than 30 years of experience to some ``global heads' ' to figure out the exact meaning of the words ``antenna bridge' ' and use them as professionals do?

    Receiver? Really?



    Quote:

    but unless CR connected to a functional point inside the iPhone that number is fantasy



    ``Functional point' '? What about real hardware and not block diagrams?



    Quote:

    I’m not saying...

    I also don’t know what part...

    And we don’t know...

    We also don’t know...



    WTF do you professional know? WTF are you professional now mumbling about?



    Quote:

    send me a few more iPhones ( i bought 3). I’ll find a chamber and get you some answers in a day



    First find the chamber, then open your mouth.



    P.S. "Bob provides unified leadership direction for all matters related to the strategy, policies, best practices, and business operations of the research products group"

    == QA engineer (glorified s/w tester), who isn't even good enough as a tester (doesn't want to work).
  • Reply 72 of 193
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,272member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post


    Instead of apple getting their image tarnished consumer reports are, as they should, I cut my subscription to these guys this year, little quality...



    It would take more than a faulty antenna to damage Apple's image... as for CR, who cares?
  • Reply 73 of 193
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Is there such a thing as a reliable cell phone? I've been using them a long time on many different carriers and I currently have a 3GS. I have yet to own a cell phone that I would call reliable. I guess it depends on what your definition of reliable is or what you consider important phone calls, because if I was to call, let's say a prospective new client, I would not use a cell phone for fear of sounding unprofessional with all the static, audible delay or possible dropped call. Cell phone call quality is pretty bad.



    I think it's more the service quality of the mobile operator, rather than the handset.



    Here in the United States, consumers are relatively accepting of really crummy service. That is not the case in a place like Japan. NTT DoCoMo is rock solid and has been for a decade, even in sketchy places like Tokyo trains.



    I use a Motorola dumbphone on T-Mobile USA's network and my call quality is usually excellent so certainly your mileage may vary.
  • Reply 74 of 193
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bcotten View Post


    i think the bigger issue is that we're all still having this conversation 3-4 weeks into this... that's the biggest problem for the iPhone 4. Also- the antenna.



    Well it's only us having this conversation not the wider community given iP4 demand.
  • Reply 75 of 193
    willrobwillrob Posts: 203member
    The software patch Apple has promised is for iOS4, run on a iPhone 4 or 3GS or 3G. The incorrect reading of the bars occurs via OS not hardware. Thus 3GS owners who updated their OS are seeing erratic bar behavior.
  • Reply 76 of 193
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CvR View Post


    Sorry for the long post, but since people are venting in these forums anyway, why not do the same in my way? Oh well, the armchair engineers will always be louder than the real ones, I think I will have to live with that. Yes, I feel much quieter now, I'll take my coat and leave, shall I?



    Why is it cold out where you are?



    No, that was a good post. Thanks for the detail.
  • Reply 77 of 193
    Quote:

    Egan notes that it is not known "what part of this problem is Apple’s and what part is related to the AT&T network. And we don’t know how the observed effect is, or is not, similar to other devices.



    And it's the inconsistency from various user experiences which makes me lean more towards the network. If it was a design flaw in the Antenna then surely people in Europe/UK, where 3G networks are more established, would be having these issues.



    I'm just not reading these issues elsewhere other than the US.



    This whole episode is more than a storm in a teacup, its a full blown hurricane and Tsunami all rolled into one. All because somebody could make the iPhone 4 drop calls and make the bars drop by bridging the antenna. These dropped calls and loss of bars were present from the first iPhone. So what's changed?



    Apple need a new product launch and they need it soon.
  • Reply 78 of 193
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    As flawed as CR is with this report, the people who don't get tech like we do refer to them completely. Grandma Sue might read it and spread the word to her family and friends that the iPhone has issues and no one should buy it. I was down in the Texas Valley this weekend and everyone saw my i4 and started asking about reception and how they heard this and that negative thing about it. Basically, the same publicity as Vista.
  • Reply 79 of 193
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post


    I use a Motorola dumbphone on T-Mobile USA's network and my call quality is usually excellent so certainly your mileage may vary.



    The very first cell phone I owned had really decent call quality. Of course it was mounted in a car with 2' high antenna affixed to the roof and was putting out about 20 watts. It was a Motorola and it cost $2,500. And that was 1985 dollars.
  • Reply 80 of 193
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Yeah, I don't really want to jump on the CR bashing bandwagon, but, as has been pointed out before, if you actually know something about products of a given type, one will find that the reviews on CR tend to focus on irrelevant features and rarely end up recommending the product a knowledgeable consumer would choose. It's been that way for as long as I can remember.



    Their reviews can be, or at least in the past (pre-WWW) were, sometimes useful for comparing certain things across products, when that information was otherwise hard to come by, but certainly not definitive statements of which is actually the best product.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by donarb View Post


    Exactly. I remember a few years ago reading their review of a small sports car. Their main complaint was that there wasn't enough head room for a six-foot two-inch man. Well, duh!



    And that's not to mention the cases where the intentionally fudge the test. Remember the test on car roll-overs?



    CR has shown that if there's enough whining about a topic, they'll jump on board. For example, they're bashing Apple without doing any control experiments on other phones. EVEN IF their testing methodology were meaningful, the results are meaningless without testing other phones.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Well because Apple knows the issue is real and if CR found the issue, which they did, Apple would look even worse then they already do now on this issue, if that's possible. Moreover Apple rarely comment on stuff like this.



    And you know all of these things because......?



    (Hallucinations don't count).



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    Do I need to make phone calls and want a highly reliable way of doing that? If the answer to that is yes, then no. 'Cause the iPhone isn't highly-releaible in that department. The Nexus One is similarly not highly-releaible in that department. So neither of them are suited to that type of customer. If you're a guy who make a lot of important calls, get something else. Or get a 3G S.



    Really? My iPhone 3G used to drop calls on occasion. I have STILL not had a single dropped call on my iPhone 4 - and I'm in a moderate signal area.



    SOME people have problems with the phone - but that's true of any phone and network on the planet. I'm still waiting for your evidence that the iPhone is less reliable than any other phone out there. If you find it, you'd be disagreeing with the same CR that you're praising - since CR says the iPhone has the best signal of any smart phone - even with the problems.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by freddych View Post


    Exactly!



    This whole thing is crazy. Apple is a great company. Any great company that has a problem, would address the problem right away.



    Thus, since Apple is neither giving away free bumpers, nor offering any sort of fix nor instructions on a fix, there is no problem! If my company were to have a problem, we'd fix it. Clearly, there's no problem here.



    Or, just maybe, Apple is far more rational than you are.



    First, you find the problem.

    Then, you do research to find a solution to the problem.

    Then, you have to get regulatory approvals

    THEN you can fix the problem.



    All this whining that Apple hasn't created the world in 3 days is just plain absurd. They've told you a perfectly usable work around and have stated that they're working on other fixes.
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