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Apple's ally: Engineer says Consumer Reports study flawed

As iPhone 4 hits seem to keep piling up, Apple finds a friend in an electromagnetic engineer and self-described "mobile topic expert" who claims that Consumer Reports failed to provide a truly scientific test of the antenna issues facing Apple's iPhone 4.

According to Bob Egan, Apple may not be entirely to blame for poor iPhone 4 call quality. Apple

As iPhone 4 hits seem to keep piling up, Apple finds a friend in an electromagnetic engineer and self-described "mobile topic expert" who claims that Consumer Reports failed to provide a truly scientific test of the antenna issues facing Apple's iPhone 4.

Bob Egan, now a technology blogger and global head of research & chief analyst at the TowerGroup, claims that the Consumer Reports study, which had the popular independent customer advocacy group unable to recommend purchasing the iPhone 4, has many inherent flaws and can barely be counted as scientific.

Egan writes, "Bottom line. 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 also wonders if the issue is even entirely Apple's, supposing that AT&T could share some of the blame for the signal variance and call dropping problems that have since become endless blogging fodder for every technology Web site reporting on Apple's affairs. "We also don't know if placing a finger on the antenna bridge is detuning the antenna or detuning the receiver itself."

Since this issue has come to light, I have carefully monitored my own 3G reception while using the iPhone 4. My conclusions, though completely unscientific, are that while I can replicate the signal bar indicator issue (where the number of bars drops significantly when covering the antenna gap on the lower-left of the device), it does not seem to affect call quality or cause any dropped calls. That would lead me to believe that the indicator problem is a result of a software miscalculation, and I fully expect a software fix to silence this issue for good.

So the question looms, who do you believe? Has Consumer Reports done its due diligence in testing iPhone 4 or did it miss some steps along the way that would make the report more valid? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!