Apple Feels The Heat Over iPhone 4 Antenna Flaw

Consumer Reports

"When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4," said Consumer Reports' Mike Gikas, in a company blog post Monday.

Gikas said that Consumer Reports' test engineers connected a total of three iPhone 4s, which are "impervious outside radio signals," in addition to other AT&T phones, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre.

"None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4," Gikas said.

CR also expressed strong doubt regarding Apple's explanation that the iPhone 4's perceived loss of signal strength was due to glitch created by faulty software that "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength."

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"The tests also indicate that AT&T's network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4's much-reported signal woes," Gikas said.

Gikas mentioned that one possible workaround for its "death grip" issues would be to cover the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or 'another thick, non-conductive material. It may not be pretty, but it works," he said. "We also expect that using a case would remedy the problem. We'll test a few cases this week and report back.'

In light of the myriad reception flaws, some even suggested that Apple implement a recall for the iPhone 4. Wayne State University Professor Matthew Seeger, who told the Cult of Mac that backlash for Apple would likely include loss of branding and reputation, which could force a recall.

Apple shares took a hit, falling 2.7 percent by midday, according to The Wall Street Journal .

Meanwhile, Wired News' Epicenter blog indicated that Apple might be trying take damage control into its own hands by deleting support forum threads linking to the Consumer Reports article.

"I'm not prone to hysterics or a subscriber to conspiracy theories, but it's fairly hard to imagine any good way to interpret this. Every post that I saw listed in a Google search of Apple's discussion boards lead to the same result: 'Error: you do not have permission to view the requested forum or category," wrote Unofficial Apple Weblog blogger TJ Luoma. "Sadly this isn't the first time we've heard about Apple deleting discussion board threads on topics which are unflattering to Apple's products. It's closer to the fiftieth time. In fact, we've heard so many reports about this happening that it seems safe to call this standard operating procedure for Apple's discussion boards."