It's official. Consumer Reports' engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4.
Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength."
The tests also indicate that AT&T's network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4's much-reported signal woes.
The signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone 4 as a "recommended" model, even though its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest Ratings of smart phones that were released today.
The iPhone scored high, in part because it sports the sharpest display and best video camera we've seen on any phone, and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller.
But Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4.
Apple needs to put the brake on the PR train and really decide if it wants to continue down its current path - the path of half-truths and treating their own customers like children.
Apple may believe that giving free bumper cases away to fix a fatal design flaw is "appeasing customers", but I call doing it the right thing and treating your phone customers with respect.
Let's remember, this isn't an iPod...it's a phone. In the end, it isn't a very good phone if it doesn't work when holding in it a natural way.
Should Apple give out free Bumper Cases?
We asked our readers what they thought, and a staggering 97% of you agreed that Apple should hand out free Bumper Cases to all iPhone 4 customers.