Consumer Reports faults new iPhone

Associated Press / July 13, 2010

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SEATTLE — Consumer Reports will not recommend Apple Inc.’s newest iPhone because of reception problems caused by its antenna design.

After the iPhone 4 went on sale in June, buyers started complaining that holding the gadget a certain way could cause reception to fade and calls to drop.

Apple has said that any phone will lose signal strength when gripped in certain ways. It said the iPhone 4 seems to show a larger drop because it has been using a faulty formula to decide how many signal bars to show.

But yesterday, Consumer Reports said it had tested several phones that use AT&T’s network, and only the iPhone 4 seemed to have the reception issue.

“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,’’ Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports wrote. “The tests also indicate that AT&T’s network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4’s much-reported signal woes.’’

Apple did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Still, the iPhone 4 topped Consumer Reports’ updated ratings list for smartphones, thanks to its sharp display and “best video camera we’ve seen on any phone.’’ But the magazine, which tests electronics, appliances, and other items, will not mark the iPhone 4 as recommended until Apple finds a permanent and free fix for the problem.