Antennagate Redux On Verizon iPhone 4

Consumer Reports testing of the Verizon Wireless version of the Apple smartphone find it has the same antenna problem as the AT&T version and is susceptible to dropped calls.
Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown

Consumer Reports starts off its report on the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 by saying, "The Verizon iPhone 4 has a problem that could cause the phone to drop calls, or be unable to place calls, in weak signal conditions, Consumer Reports engineers have found in lab tests."

Despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs' claim that the antenna design on the iPhone 4 was "genius," users found that bridging the gap between two of the antenna pieces significantly reduced signal strength, and sometimes led to dropped calls. Consumer Reports said the issue hasn't been fixed in the new version of the iPhone, which went on sale via Verizon Wireless earlier this month.

It goes on to state: "The problem is similar to the one we confirmed in July with the AT&T version of Apple's newest smart phone. It can occur when you hold either version of the phone in a specific but quite natural way in which a gap in the phone's external casing is covered. The phone performs superbly in most other respects, and using the iPhone 4 with a case can alleviate the problem."

The Death Grip, as it became known, spurred the Antennagate controversy, which pitted Apple against its own customers. Apple held a press conference in July 2010 to demonstrate how a number of phones made by different manufacturers were affected in the same way (i.e., they lost signal strength when held in certain ways). It claimed there were no unique problems with the iPhone 4, despite the numerous reports that clearly showed the signal strength drop when the antenna gap was covered with a bare finger.

Apple offered free cases to iPhone customers for several months, which help to solve the problem, but that program ended in September. Apple hasn't responded to Consumer Reports' latest article, which was published Friday.

In its conclusion, Consumer Reports said, "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. Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case."

Based on the tens of millions of iPhone 4s that Apple sold during the second half of 2010, I'd say it's safe to assume that most people didn't care about Consumer Reports' initial take on the iPhone 4.

Will Verizon Wireless customers care what Consumer Reports has to say this time around? Device sales figures will speak for themselves.


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