We’re a little surprised by the results—normally Consumer Reports has nothing but amazing things to say about Apple products, but Consumer Reports refuses to recommend the iPhone 4 because of the lost signal problem when holding the phone in your left hand.

This could be a case of milking a problem for as many page views as possible, or the honest truth, and the reality probably lies somewhere between those two end-points. You have to hand it to Consumer Reports for the tests they put the iPhone 4 through. A couple of weeks ago we pointed out that someone would eventually test these devices in a “more scientific” way than the traditional YouTube video, and this is the first sign of that, but by no means is this a real scientific test. We should also point out that this is the same Consumer Report that originally recommended the iPhone 4 to their readers a couple of short months ago, so this could be an attempt to stay in the news cycle more than anything.

According to the Consumer Report,

“We reached this conclusion after testing all three of our iPhone 4s (purchased at three separate retailers in the New York area) in the controlled environment of CU’s radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber. In this room, which is impervious to outside radio signals, our test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4. Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4’s signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that “mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”

You have to hand it to Consumer Reports here; they’re just confirming what we all know—the iPhone 4 is shipping with a defect, and despite their claims of it being an optical illusion, there’s a mighty fine case to be made that the iPhone 4 has some serious problems that have yet to be honestly addressed by Apple.

Don’t get me wrong. I really hope that this is a problem with effective reporting of signal strength by Apple, but after reading the consumer report, I’m a little bit skeptical that a software patch is going to fix these issues. I wouldn’t not recommend the iPhone 4, like Consumer Reports did, but I’d certainly be telling friends and family about the current pitfalls of the device.

No matter how we slice it, the reception issue is a giant pitfall, and until a software patch fixes it, or Apple figures out what to do with the device, Cupertino is going to be scrambling. There’s nothing worse than bad PR, and it’s going to continue until there’s some resolution, one way or another.

Article Via Consumer Reports