Consumer Reports condemns end of iPhone 4 free case program

in iPhone edited January 2014
Consumer Reports responded negatively to Apple's discontinuation of the free iPhone 4 case program, refusing to recommend the iPhone 4.

The consumer buying advice group announced Monday on its official blog that it continues not to recommend the iPhone 4. Apple's decision to discontinue the iPhone 4 free case program was seen as "less consumer-friendly."

"Putting the onus on any owners of a product to obtain a remedy to a design flaw is not acceptable to us," wrote Consumer Reports.

Apple announced Friday that it would not extend its free case offer, which expires on Sept. 30. Users experiencing noticeable loss of signal when holding the phone can contact AppleCare to request a free bumper. According to Apple, the "iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller" than they originally thought.

Consumer Reports also took issue with the change in available cases. During the free case program, seven cases, "including some from third-party manufacturers," were offered. Users who contact AppleCare after Sept. 30 will only have Apple's own Bumper case available to them.

In July, Consumer Reports reversed its initial recommendation that there was "no reason not to buy" the new smartphone. After independent testing in a "controlled environment," the organization found that the iPhone 4 was subject to signal loss when held.

Despite the lack of recommendation, the organization still ranked the iPhone as the best smartphone available, giving it the "highest rated" score.

Several websites questioned Consumer Reports' testing methodology. Engineer Bob Egan dismissed the test as unscientific.

"From what I can see in the reports, Consumer Reports replicated the same uncontrolled, unscientific experiments that many of the blogging sites have done," Egan wrote on his website.


  • Reply 1 of 188
    CR is shameless.
  • Reply 2 of 188
    Can't say I really care.
  • Reply 3 of 188
    My iPhone 4 works fine, with or without a case. The low return rate speaks for itself.
  • Reply 4 of 188
    Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

    My iPhone 4 works fine, with or without a case. The low return rate speaks for itself.

    +1 here. I haven't experinced problems thus far, and I do believe if there is a problem, it's with AT&T's network. I live less than 2 miles from a big AT&T complex and I get only three bars.
  • Reply 5 of 188
    Enough, already, from Consumer Reports on this. They said their piece. Now they're just fishing for traffic.

    The irony, of course, is: Consumer Reports has an iPhone app. And... it's considered pretty lame.
  • Reply 6 of 188
    I got one of the free cases, but I like the phone better without the case so case is collecting dust. I haven't had any reception problems.
  • Reply 7 of 188
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    Look at me, I am irrelevant and don't even know it..
  • Reply 8 of 188
    Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

    My iPhone 4 works fine, with or without a case. The low return rate speaks for itself.

    Ditto! And the fact that the loss-of-signal issue seems to be largely US-specific (i.e., AT&T-specific) and not experienced by users on other carriers around the world strongly suggests (perhaps even proves) that the problem isn't a design flaw of the iPhone 4, but a flaw with the strength/quality of AT&T's 3G network.

    Regardless, I (and the overwhelming majority of users) have had no problems with the iPhone 4 since day one. Despite the Antennagate-gate, a flood of bad press, and specifically Consumer Reports' negative comments, reactions and continued refusal to recommend the iPhone 4, Apple is still scrambling to meet demand.
  • Reply 9 of 188
    Consumer Reports... what a misnomer. Seems like actual consumers aren't reporting any problems!
  • Reply 10 of 188
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    According to Apple, the "iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller" than they originally thought.

    What about the iPhone 4 antenna detuning issue? No comments on that from Apple?
  • Reply 11 of 188
    It is a fundamental design flaw.
  • Reply 12 of 188
    nchianchia Posts: 124member
    Consumer Reports... 'nuff said.
  • Reply 13 of 188
    Consumer Reports:

    I can't recommend the iPhone.


    I don't care.

    Seriously, this is just going to make Consumer Reports look bad when that take this stance and everyone else says that it is a minor problem affecting very few people. Can it be reproduced? Yes. Can you easily avoid the problem (if you do not naturally do so)? Yes. Does the antenna design generally improve reception over a traditional design. Yes. Will it cause your call to drop? No. It's like the efficiency gauge on the Toyota Prius. Maximize your bars and you will get better gas mileage. Consumer Reports should stick to cars. Enough said.
  • Reply 14 of 188

    Cases are what, $1.50 at Monoprice -- what NON-news.
  • Reply 15 of 188
    Jesus. Consumer Reports just won't stop, will they? I wonder who's paying them to act this way?
  • Reply 16 of 188
    I have an iPhone 4 with a free bumper from Apple and I have a few thoughts on this:

    1. I find the drop in signal strength with the iPhone 4 to be noticeable (in terms of "bars") and replicable (I can make it happen EVERY SINGLE TIME I hold the phone in the "forbidden" way). I realize that looking at the bars is not "scientific" in the sense that there are a lot of uncontrolled factors, but this is an issue of precision not bias. Repeat the experiment of "hold right" vs "hold wrong" enough times, and even using the "unscientific bars" measure, it's still a valid comparison (just statistically noisy).

    2. Apple's bumper case TOTALLY solves the problem for me.

    3. I can imagine that the reason Apple has seen few returns over this issue is that while holding the phone "in the wrong way" reduces signal strength, it doesn't necessarily result in a dropped call in an area with weak signal AND people might just learn to stop holding it "the wrong way". I suspect this is what Apple is really talking about when they say that the problem is even less common than they initially believed -- it's not that attenuation doesn't happen, it's that dropped calls resulting from attenuation are more rare than they first estimated, perhaps because people are either using cases or just not holding the phone "wrong."

    4. People can still get a free case if they want one. All they have to do is contact AppleCare. I don't see how that's any harder than finding the "free case app" on the App Store.

    5. Seems absurd to me that CR demand Apple provide third party cases. The Apple bumper fixes the issue, so what's the problem? I think this demand from CR greatly reduces their credibility here. It just makes no sense.

    My conclusion:

    The attenuation problem is real, but the implications of the problem are not noticeable for most people most of the time (in terms of dropped calls or other serious disruptions in service). Providing a free case through Apple Care for people who do experience a noticeable disruption in service seems like a totally reasonable solution to the problem. CR is just grandstanding at this point.
  • Reply 17 of 188
    I'm still on my 3GS, but I've heard mixed iPhone 4 comments from others - some say they have no problems while others do. I'm not discounting those with legitimate problems, but I do think some of it is the power of suggestion. If you hear over and over about an issue even if you don't have that issue you invent it in your mind cuz you must have it also - everyone else does, right? Also some people just like to complain. Lastly, it seems to me Consumer Reports has turned into PETA (and others) by using any and every opportunity to let the world know they are around and get people to visit their site and pay attention to them.
  • Reply 18 of 188
    I would think most executive types are using a cell phone. From the way CR is behaving I think that their CEO is an Android user and he feels fear for his own ego if he actually recommends a phone that he/she is using. Dumb on CR part. I don't read their stuff and really don't care.
  • Reply 19 of 188
    Originally Posted by erybovic View Post

    I tested this with field test mode and holding it the wrong way on average loses 20 DB of signal strength. It is a fundamental design flaw.

    I tested in in real life - significantly better reception NO dead zones on my route to and from work where there used to be dead zones (minimum two bars now), and only two (count 'em) 2-dos-ʼiṯnān-dua-dó-twee-tueir-dui-deux dropped calls for the entire 2+ months of use since purchase - a new personal record.

    READ MY PIXELS - 20dB means jack unless you have the rest of the data ohhh like direction, ambient conditions, and cell breathing to name a few.

    And now back to normal-sized commentary.
  • Reply 20 of 188
    I have had my iPhone 4 for over a month now, and I have not had any issue with the attenuation that some have had. I have held it in every way possible, and nothing happened. I think what needs to happen is that someone make a website that collects anonymous data from people, and collects data as far as how many bars and where they are located. The reason why I say that is I wonder if it is certain areas in the US that are having problems, or is it just a sprinkling all over the map.
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