Apple’s reported redesign of the iPhone 4’s antenna for Verizon Wireless has not fixed its “death grip” problem, according to Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports said Verizon’s iPhone 4 can drop calls when users cover a gap on the lower left side of the phone’s external steel band with their hand or finger, according to lab tests conducted by its engineers.
The design flaw is similar to the “death grip” problem with AT&T’s version of the device, which caused the phone’s signal quality to degrade when held in a certain way.
“As with our tests of the AT&T iPhone 4, putting a finger across one particular gap — the one on the lower left side — caused performance to decline,” said Paul Reynolds, Consumer Reports electronics reporter, in a blog post. “Bridging this gap is easy to do inadvertently, especially when the phone is in your palm, which might readily and continuously cover the gap during a call.”
Consumer Reports said it tested five other Verizon smartphones for a similar degradation in signal quality: the Samsung Fascinate, Motorola Droid 2 Global, HTC Droid Incredible, LG Ally and Motorola Droid X.
“The only phones in which the finger contact caused any meaningful decline in performance was the iPhone 4,” Reynolds said.
Consumer Reports is not including the Verizon iPhone 4 in its list of recommended smartphones because of the problem with its antenna, though the publication conceded that the design flaw only caused dropped calls in areas with already weak signal strength and was easily remedied with the use of a case or bumper.
A spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless dismissed the reports, saying the company’s iPhone customers “are experiencing stellar network performance” with less than one half of 1 percent of calls dropped in major cities like New York and San Francisco.
Tear-down analysis from IHS iSuppli and other research firms indicated that Apple had attempted to fix the problem with the iPhone 4’s antenna when it modified the device for Verizon’s CDMA network. Analysts at iSuppli reported that Verizon’s CDMA iPhone 4 used a new two-antenna design that could improve reception.