Consumer Reports Still Doesn’t Recommend iPhone 4, Apple Needs to Fix iPhone 4 Reception Issues

Written By Sam on 15 September 2010
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News continues on Apple’s recent decision to curtail its free bumper case programme for iPhone 4, come October. While the company feels the “antenna attenuation issue” is “even smaller than we originally thought”, that’s not what some consumer forums seem to think.

We may recall, the programme was launched to address iPhone 4 attenuation issues that were mainly a result of the placement of the antenna on the device’s outer rim, which led to diminishing signal strength every time the antenna got covered. Now that Apple thinks only a ‘small percentage of iPhone 4 users need a case’, you may have to take out your wallet if you want a case for your iPhone 4 after September 30. Alternatively, of course, you can approach the company with a claim that you belong to that ‘small percentage’ of iPhone 4 users who still haven’t gotten over reception issues and request for a free case.

While on the face of it, the announcement to call off Apple’s free bumper case programme seems consumer-friendly, Consumer Reports, a non-profit organisation, is still resolute in its stand of not recommending iPhone 4 to consumers. The NGO had decided that the device would not get a buy-recommendation in the magazine until the ‘antennagate’ issue was fixed. And even after the latest Apple announcement, the magazine’s stand remains unchanged. The reasons for this have also been specified on its blog:

“Our tests found the bumper successfully mitigates the iPhone 4’s reception issue, which was a weak point in the phone’s otherwise-stellar performance in our tests. And we agree with Apple that not all iPhone 4 owners will experience reception difficulties with the device. But putting the onus on any owners of a product to obtain a remedy to a design flaw is not acceptable to us. We therefore continue not to recommend the iPhone 4, and to call on Apple to provide a permanent fix for the phone’s reception issues.”

The NGO also noted that in its earlier bumper case programme, Apple has offered consumers a choice of seven cases. The new programme will only offer Apple’s own bumper, “a frame-like cover that runs around the edge of the phone”. While there are rumours Apple might come up with a new version of the phone with a permanent fix for its signal issues, the company has not come out openly about what it actually intends to do. It has also “provided no data to detail its claim of lower-than-expected incidence of dropped calls with the iPhone 4,” Consumer Reporter argued. Valid concerns. And till the time Apple chooses to maintain a stoic stand to the iPhone 4’s reception issues, not even its ‘stellar performance’ may be able to convince discerning customers to give the phone a thumbs-up.

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