Apple iPhone 4 still raises red flags for Consumer Reports

Apple iPhone 4 may be selling strongly, but Consumer Reports says users should still beware of the latest iteration of the popular iPhone handset.

Apple iPhone 4 is still not Death Grip-proof, Consumer Reports said today. The magazine suggested that Apple find a permanent fix for the reception issues on the iPhone 4.

And Apple iPhone 4 antennagate rolls onward.

Back in July, at the peak of Death Grip mania, Consumer Reports announced that it was unable to recommend the iPhone 4. When the handset is held on the left side, signal quality is "significantly" degraded, Consumer Reports staffers wrote in a widely-read review, suggesting that users consider "cover[ing] the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or another thick, non-conductive material. It may not be pretty, but it works."

Today, the magazine staff said they would not change its recommendation on the iPhone 4, and added that the bumper case program was only a stop-gap – not a permanent fix for a permanent problem. "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," staffers wrote.

In a post to its Electronics blog, Consumer Reports noted that Apple was likely correct that the Death Grip problem only affected a small amount of users. And the magazine said the bumper case should fix the reception issues. Still, it stressed that Apple has the obligation to fix the reception issues once and for all.

Yesterday, a handful of bloggers noticed that Apple had quietly ended its free case program, which the company had been using to quell Death Grip discontent. "The iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is even smaller than we originally thought," Apple reps wrote in a statement posted to the company site. Apple said that users who buy an iPhone 4 before Sept. 30 will still be eligible for a free case, as will users who experience ongoing antenna problems.

But "for everyone else," Apple reps wrote, "we are discontinuing the free case program on all iPhone 4s sold after September 30, 2010."

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