My goodness. This dispute over reception issues has taken on a life of its own. With lawsuits being filed, bloggers making a big deal of alleged problems, and comments flying around like a swarm of bees, who can you believe? Well I have found a source that has no axe to grind. A company that has a fairly respected reputation for their unbiased opinions. The company is Consumer Reports. For those who are not familiar with the company, they test products and more importantly survey their readers to find out how good or bad a product is. For the most part, their reviews are usually reliable and accurate.
So when I read their take on this squabble about the alleged reception problems, I thought I would share it with you. Here is what they said:
For its part, Apple recently suggested that any iPhone 4 signal loss results from little more than faulty software that incorrectly displays signal strengths.
The software may, indeed be faulty, but the signal loss can be real. Holding the iPhone 4 in certain ways does cause signal loss. But that’s the case with all cell phones. Indeed, all cell phones, from the mightiest smart phones to the most-basic flip models, must consistently overcome a major communication obstacle: you.
Your hand, your head, or any other part of your body that comes between the phone’s antenna and the nearest cell tower will interfere with reception, and devilishly well. That’s in part because humans are mostly made of water, and water is very good at blocking phone signals. Other confounding factors include nearby buildings, cell-tower location, and even the weather.
Most of the Web sites reporting dropped signals and even dropped calls have demonstrated several techniques, or “death grips” for recreating the problem (which we’ve yet been able to reproduce in a meaningful way). But those almost always require squeezing the phone hard, in an unnatural way. Those grips may also produce sweaty palms from exertion, with the sweat increasing conductivity—and possibly the degree of signal loss.
Case closed, right? Well, no.
Even with that supposed handicap of an exposed antenna, iPhone 4 reception is actually better than on the 3GS according to many to some highly respectable and thorough testers, including AnandTech.com:
From my day of testing, I’ve determined that the iPhone 4 performs much better than the 3GS in situations where signal is very low, at -113 dBm (1 bar). Previously, dropping this low all but guaranteed that calls would drop, fail to be placed, and data would no longer be transacted at all. I can honestly say that I’ve never held onto so many calls and data simultaneously on 1 bar at -113 dBm as I have with the iPhone 4, so it’s readily apparent that the new baseband hardware is much more sensitive compared to what was in the 3GS.
Bottom line: There’s no reason, at least yet, to forgo buying an iPhone 4 over its reception concerns. And even if those do materialize, Apple’s Steve Jobs helpfully reminds new iPhone buyers that “you can return your undamaged iPhone to any Apple Retail Store or the online Apple Store within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.”
This is all that really matters. Apple is even forgoing the traditional 10% restocking fee just to keep customers happy. I just recently wrote a blo post about this issue in which I described problems that Nokia has with their phones. [You can read it here].
Every cell phone has receptions issues, regardless of the brand name plastered on the front.I also know that Consumer Report hasn’t actually taken the new Apple iPhone 4 for a test drive, but the organization does recognize the ridiculous way this is being reported by those who should know better.