An article that appeared yesterday speaks of a problem that the new Verizon CDMA model iPhones have, which may be one reason why some have stayed away – they were waiting to see if any problems appeared. (Of course, for current customers, there was also that little upgrade cost problem!)

Relaying the message from a labs test from Consumer Reports, the new iPhone seems to suffer the very same “death grip” problem that the AT&T model using GSM does. I guess the minor case change was not enough to do the trick. This is certainly an example where form should have followed function, not been preceded by it.

The test states that under certain instances, the phone will either drop calls, or have a signal level so low that the calls cannot be initiated. Of course, the signal levels must be weak, and we are not told exactly how low those conditions are.

The cause of the problem with the lowered signal levels and dropped calls is the contact with any of the four gaps in the antenna used, which surrounds the phone. The antenna used is basically the same form as the AT&T model, but modified with an additional gap so as to get the length of the elements right.

The fix for the problem is essentially something that could have been handled by Apple, but a small extra piece of acrylic plastic surrounding the antennas was too much to ask for.

Since the case precluded the use of older accessory protective cases already, I fail to see why the small change was not made, as that extra fraction of a penny in build cost will surely cost much more now that this has gotten into the public domain.

Consumer Reports, which has been throughout my life, short on specific details and measurements, but usually is capable of getting the big points correct, does not give the iPhone 4 a recommendation, as it states that a cell phone should not need a case to work correctly.

That will certainly make a dent in sales to the over-35 crowd, but I wonder how many of the many potential users born under that divider even are aware of the periodical, or would heed its warnings.

I’m thinking that the death knell for the large sales of Verizon iPhones will come about through the use of Twitter of Facebook, where mob mentality takes over quickly.