Consumer Reports: New iPhone Is Best Ever

Consumer Reports sent their intrepid shoppers to wait on line for the iPhone 4 Thursday morning, and rushed the new models back to their labs. Their initial assessment: “Based on the first few hours of using this fourth-generation Apple smart phone, it’s the best iPhone yet.”

CR liked the new, sharper display, the iPhone’s videoconferencing system and the new gyroscopic motion-detection system. However, they admitted that not all of the new features are must-haves:

So should you consider buying this iPhone? If you’re been a iPhone watcher from the sidelines, waiting to jump in, your patience has arguably been rewarded by this new version. But if you already have the last-generation iPhone, you can get a lot of the same functionality by just upgrading the software to the new iOS 4, which is free. The extra functions you’ll get with the iPhone 4 likely don’t merit the $200 and up you’ll pay for the device, unless you’re enamored with that video-calling feature.

First Look: iPhone 4 [Consumer Reports]

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  1. ColHapablap says:
  2. SaltWater says:

    Yeah, but as a phone (which last time I checked is a device used to make telephone calls) it sucks since AT&T the carrier for the majority of users has terrible service and coverage.

    • Rachacha says:

      It is widely believed that the poor phone reception is not because of ATT but because of the phone construction itself, which is why Apple redesigned the phone and placed the antennas on the outside of the phone (although as ColHapablap mentioned above, there have been some reports of reception issues with the new phone).

      Don’t believe that the iPhone itself might be part of the problem, ask a “dumb phone” user on ATT what they think of ATT service. Ask a Blackberry, or Windows Mobile or Android user what they think of ATT and you will likely get a different story than the typical iPhone user.
      Personally, I am very happy with ATT reception with my iPhone. Are there dead zones, sure, but they are extremely small (1/2 block) and easy to work around.

      • BobOki says:

        I disagree completely. I had three different phones that would work with AT&T, and my iPhone. I got horrible signal and 75-85% dropped calls all the time (Savannah, Ga area but also travel all round the area atlanta, etcetc and orlando) no matter which phone I tried.(and yes, also tried turning off 3g) I snagged my friends t-mobile sim and it was a different story. I had no dropped calls, just poor speeds.
        Now I am on Sprint with a EVO and I have yet to regret my decision. Phone is amazing, and I have only had two dropped calls out in the stix.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          If you’re around Atlanta a lot, the signal issues might have to do with the surrounding mountains.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I am happy with AT&T as well. Once in a while I get a dropped call, but whenever it’s one of my friends, they’re quick to attribute the dropped call to their service, which is generally Verizon. I think it happens to everyone, but overall, I’ve been happy with AT&T service.

      • Sbb says:

        I’ve been using dumb phones on ATT forever and I get absolutely abysmal service. It’s routine both at work and at home that text messages will fail to send, calls won’t connect. The worst thing is that people will call me and my phone will never ring, while on their end, it does appear to be ringing and they’ll just think I’m ignoring them. Then I’ll get their voicemail about half an hour later. This has been happening over multiple (different) phones over a long period of time. If not for my etf, I’d already be gone.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      That’s okay, Verizon Wireless is going to start sending out bills to everyone else in the country for their iPhone 4 service, even if they don’t have a phone.

      And then charge them $1.99 every time to call to complain about the bill for a service they don’t have.

    • Waydew says:

      In the time I’ve owned my Iphone, I’ve lived in Tucson and Dallas; in addition, I am an IT professional in the healthcare industry and I travel for a living. I have rarely had AT&T service issues whether I am in New York, Evansville or Cheyenne. My co-workers will tell you the same thing. Stop speaking for the “majority” of users.

      • kcvaliant says:

        When the majority of the US complains about the phone and you do not.. You are not the majority.. You are the exception..

        • Rachacha says:

          I would hardly call the technology press in NYC and SanFrancisco the Majority of the U.S.

          I travel around the country frequently visiting large metropolitain areas and rural areas, and I rarely have any problems with my iPhone, although I think that my Moto Razr had a bit better reception. The only place that I had significant problems were at a ski resort in West Virginia while standing at the top of the mountain (my Sprint data modem had no reception, and I could not see a cell tower for miles), and in a remote part of Puerto Rico along the waterfront (I had 1 bar in my hotel room, but if I went to a different part of the hotel, I had 5 strong bars, my Sprint data card was no better).

          No problems in Dallas, Atlanta, Baltimore, D.C., NYC, Upstate, NY, Chicago, LA, SanDiego, San Francisco, Boston, St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton and the outskirts of all of thise cities.

    • alexwade says:

      Where I live, the only people who have a problem with AT&T service are the iPhone users. I have AT&T and a BlackBerry, and I have good enough service. No 3G, but I haven’t had a problem with dropped calls in a long time. Except in a place like Wal-Mart where a 1900 MHz signal has trouble penetrating the building. The iPhone users do have a problem. Unfortunately, AT&T does not have the lease for 850 MHz in my area. Lower frequencies penetrate buildings better. AT&T and Verizon paid billions for the old analog TV leases because they are at a lower frequencies and thus work better indoors. The only thing stopping this is having compatible phones.

      In any event, if you hold the new iPhone with your left hand, your phone won’t work. Major design flaw. Makes me glad I have a BlackBerry. It isn’t pretty and it can’t do a lot, but it just plain works.

  3. milrtime83 says:

    In other news….newer version of is better than older version of .

    • mikeP says:

      Agreed. This is a rather obvious and stupid conclusion from Consumer Reports.

      Obviously it is going to be better. The question is if it is SOOO much better that it warrants spending 400 to 500 bucks on it and extending your contract another 2 years as well as standing in line for hours and hours. I’m betting probably not.

  4. milrtime83 says:

    blah, that didn’t work right.

    should be “newer version of (insert product name) is better than older version of (insert product name).

    • Draygonia says:

      Averaged out to 0, but you are correct… No doubt a new product will be better than the old one… its rare that it isn’t in the smart phones market.

  5. kylere1 says:

    Clearly, the did not actually USE it

  6. PBallRaven says:

    And once you wash off the suicide blood, it actually looks pretty good.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m tired of this. China is an oppressive society with a very authoritarian style of rule. The pressure to fulfill societal and financial obligations and the many non-manufacturing related crimes (like hacking to death school children) are indicative of a much larger problem than what is going on at Foxconn. It’s a symptom, but not the disease.

      • PBallRaven says:

        And yet Foxconn security tortures an employee that lost a prototype iphone to the point that he throws himself off the building. People will defend this sort of thing because they want to get their grubby little hands on the latest hot gizmo.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        And Apple is fomenting it.

      • fantomesq says:

        Thank you, Pecan… well said!

  7. The_Fuzz_53 says:

    Except for the fact that the signal disappears while you’re actually holding the phone.

    • microcars says:

      degrades, not disappears
      and this affects EVERY mobile phone, not just the iPhone
      The Nexus One
      and Nokia

      • SanDiegoDude says:

        True, every phone signal can degrade a bit from holding the phone a certain way… But these people aren’t cupping it in both hands and having 1 bar drop off, they’re holding the phone normally and having it go from full bars to nothing, and yes it can cause calls to drop (there are videos of it happening on Gizmodo)… That’s far worse than your average cell phone.

        I have faith Apple will get this sorted pretty quick though, even if it means giving a bumper and/or a 30 dollar credit for the bumper they already purchased to all early adopters.

    • donjumpsuit says:

      *sigh*. The “signal” doesn’t disappear, the way the phone DETERMINES the signal is affected. Those making calls with the antennas bridged, sometimes show “no service” on their phones can still make calls without dropping.

      UNDERSTAND?!

  8. Red_Eye says:

    Uhhh link to blog not working right?

  9. MyTQuinn says:

    “Best iPhone yet”… talk about a backhanded compliment!

  10. SanDiegoDude says:

    C’mon Consumer Reports, no mention of the design flaws?

    External Antenna grounding out when being held like a phone:
    http://gizmodo.com/5571171/iphone-4-loses-reception-when-you-hold-it-by-the-antenna-band

    Although according to Apple, you’re just holding it wrong:
    http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/24/apple-responds-over-iphone-4-reception-issues-youre-holding-th/

    Glass cracking and shattering from short distance falls?
    http://gizmodo.com/5572227/fuuuuuu-gizmodos-first-accidentally-dropped-iphone
    http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/06/23/so-it-begins-the-iphone-4-shatters-like-a-mofo/

    Yellowing displays (although this appears to be more a factory woops than a true hardware flaw)
    http://gizmodo.com/5571143/some-iphone-4-screens-have-yellow-bands-and-spots

    Now, I know Apple will fix these issues, whether they fess up to the bad design on the antenna and give everybody bumpers for free (ala Nintendo and the Wii Remotes) or a firmware fix that corrects the signal attenuation, or replace people’s shattered glass for free (and correct whatever is causing the stress point on the glass that’s making that gorilla glass so fragile on future factory runs), but it surprises me that Consumer Reports didn’t point these issues out to begin with before making the “yes you should buy this phone hands down” recommendation.

    BTW, I’m not “hatin on Apple” – The iPhone 4 is sexy as hell, I was playing with a coworkers this morning (although I was able to cause his bars to drop by holding the phone in my left hand sadly) and if it came to Verizon, I would be hard pressed not to swap out my beloved Droid, design flaws and all. I just feel that the biggest consumer product testing organization should mention some of the issues cropping up in the real world when making such a bold recommendation.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Will putting a case on the phone prevent the problem with touching the antenna? If so, most people buy cases anyway…

      I know you should’nt have to buy a case, and I agree that yes, it is a design flaw. However, I’m just curious if getting a case is a better solution that “holding the phone a different way”.

      • SanDiegoDude says:

        Yep, the bumper guard Apple sells for 30 dollars completely corrects the issue since the rubber/plastic of the guard prevents your skin from contacting the metal antenna.

      • Rachacha says:

        I have an iPhone 3G, and I have a case, but it is a holster style case that I keep attached to my belt. When I handle the phone to answer a call/surf the net, I am handling a bare phone, so unless I get a clear plastic wrap around the phone, my preferred case will not work for me. I suspect that I am not alone.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I was waiting for this since yesterday, I was very curious to see what would happen when this phone made of glass is dropped.

  11. zibby says:

    Shouldn’t it be the best ever? Wouldn’t they have…you know, worked on it and stuff?

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’ll get a droid instead -the screen is bigger and I won’t be a fanboy.

    Oh, who am I kidding. I still don’t have a data plan and I bought a RAZR – four years after the RAZR was popular…

    Sigh… so poor.

  13. Rask says:

    Ya know.. Consumerist never talks about positive reviews CR gives to ANY OTHER piece of Consumer Electronics other than Apple products..

  14. jessjj347 says:

    If you upgrade your 3g or 3gs, you’ll get multitasking and the ability to have folders of apps.
    Considering multitasking is the major feature I like in the iPhone 4, I probably won’t buy it and instead will upgrade.

  15. jo3lr0ck5 says:

    OMG the iPhone 4 is so amazing, I touched it and it shattered, lost service, developed yellow lines and spots, dropped all my calls, and then it decided to flip the volume buttons on me…

  16. Tank Fuzzbutt says:

    I have the 3G model ( not the 3GS ) and upgraded to the 4 OS and it has made the phone painfully slow. Texting is so slow that it is almost unusable. I don’t recommend the upgrade on a 3G.

  17. Sarcastico says:

    Clearly this phone is not for lefties. I’m waiting on an upgrade to the iPod Touch. Wireless bump to 802.11n, perhaps a camera, drop in price and any other goodies Steve may be willing to impart.

  18. Outrun1986 says:

    Yellowing displays have been common in a lot of devices, I have seen a lot of complaints because of yellow screens on the Nintendo DS Lite and I have actually seen these yellow screens myself on that device. I am guessing this is a typical flaw with LCD screens and not a flaw that is specific to the iPhone 4.

  19. FrugalFreak says:

    Best iphone?

    Sure because it may function better or have new features.
    But is it worth the price for namesake hype? Most likely not.

  20. watchwhathappens says:

    I’ll never understand the need to get it THE DAY IT COMES OUT. It’s not like there won’t be more (and cheaper) in a few weeks or months.

  21. Mp3dog says:

    You do not wait “ON” line, you wait “IN” line. Big difference.