Consumer Reports says it can't recommend the iPhone 4
Though it continues to rate the iPhone 4 highly, Consumer Reports recommends the older iPhone 3GS over the iPhone 4 due to the latter's ongoing antenna issues.
Kent GermanFormer senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Consumer Reports announced Monday that it can't recommend the iPhone 4 due to problems with its reception. According to a story posted on Consumer Reports' Web site, it is withholding the recommendation after its engineers found that when you touch the gap in the antenna on the phone's lower left side, "the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal."
The iPhone 4 still tops the firm's latest smartphones ratings list--largely due to its Retina Display, added features, and better battery life--but Consumer Reports continues to recommend the iPhone 3GS as the preferred Apple handset.
The announcement comes 10 days after Consumer Reports said the iPhone 4's signal problems aren't unique. Writer Mike Gikas has since added an addendum to that story indicating that the problems arose later during lab testing.
Though Consumer Reports' latest findings are significant, it is not alone in reaching them. Indeed, during testing, CNET and other outlets have discovered that the iPhone 4 call quality degrades when you touch the gap on the left side. Like Consumer Reports, we've rated the iPhone highly on our official review--currently it has an "Excellent" rating of four stars--because of its many strong points, but we've withheld our Editors' Choice Award due to the device's continued call quality issues.
What's more, even without the antenna, we agree with Consumer Reports that AT&T's network remains a top concern. Even if a cell phone's design and features are top-notch, you can't separate those from the network on which the handset runs. And if that network doesn't deliver, we rate the phone accordingly.
On the upside, Consumer Reports found that using a bumper or even a piece of tape over the gap will eliminate the antenna issues. Over the next few days we will conduct similar tests on our iPhone 4 to see if we find similar results. Also, we'll continue to add to our review as we test. Check back later this week for more.