Ina Fried

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Consumer Reports Continues Its Love-to-Hate Relationship With the iPhone 4

Consumer Reports said Friday that the Verizon version of the iPhone–like its AT&T sibling–is susceptible to signal problems if held the wrong way.

In a blog post,, the publication said its lab tests showed phone problems could occur if the gap in the metal casing was blocked by a hand.

“The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the original AT&T iPhone 4 in many positive respects, including offering great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen, and the best MP3 player we’ve seen on a phone,” it said in the blog. “Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case.”

The publication said its testing showed that the issue is specific to the iPhone and doesn’t appear to happen with other phones.

“The only phones in which the finger contact caused any meaningful decline in performance was the iPhone 4, the sides of which comprise a metal band broken by several thin gaps,” it wrote. “As with our tests of the AT&T iPhone 4, putting a finger across one particular gap–the one on the lower left side–caused performance to decline. Bridging this gap is easy to do inadvertently, especially when the phone is in your palm, which might readily and continuously cover the gap during a call.

As with the AT&T version, a case can help alleviate potential problems.

Consumer Reports declined to recommend the AT&T iPhone over the antenna issues, even though it still gave the device the highest smartphone ranking.

The Verizon iPhone is getting similar mixed signals, with Consumer Reports giving it high rankings but leaving it off the recommended list due to the antenna issues.

Update: Verizon said in a statement that its customers are experiencing “stellar network performance” with less than one half of one percent of iPhone 4 calls being dropped in major cities such as New York and San Francisco.


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