Consumer Reports Can't Recommend Verizon iPhone

Our cousins-in-arms at Consumer Reports have finished their tests on the Verizon iPhone and found that, just like the AT&T version of the iPhone 4, it offers great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen and one heck of an MP3 player. Unfortunately, when used without a case, it also shares its predecessor’s problem of dropping calls and weak signals.

In addition to the normal battery of tests CR employs to rate mobile phones, the Verizon iPhone was also examined in the same way the magazine investigated the original iPhone 4. The phone was placed in a radio-frequency isolation chamber, which blocks interference from outside signals, and mounted on a stand. Engineers then established a continuous signal connection to their base-station emulator, a device that simulates the signals phones receive in the field. They then placed a finger to the iPhone in a range of locations around its edge, and monitored any changes.

For sake of comparison, CR also tested several other Verizon phones — Samsung Fascinate; Moto Droid 2 Global; HTC Incredible; LG Ally; and Motorola Droid X.

The only phone to experience any meaningful decrease in signal during this test was the iPhone. And once again, it occurred when testers placed a finger over the gap in the lower left side of the metal band wrapping around the phone’s edge.

CR then tested the phones using actual network signals. And when that same gap was covered up:

Reception typically dropped notably within 15 seconds or so of the gap being bridged. The iPhone eventually dropped calls when touched at very low signal strength–that is, at levels of around one bar in the phone’s signal-strength meter.

Tests were also carried out with the tester holding the phone in their palm and talking. These also confirmed the possibility for signal-loss issues.

However, when testers placed an iPhone bumper — the same kind sold by Apple — on the Verizon iPhone, the signal-loss problem was eliminated.

CR notes that there haven’t yet been widespread complaints about dropped calls on the Verizon iPhone. It also notes that the Verizon network has previously received above-average reliability scores from readers.

From Consumer Reports:

But given our findings, we believe the possibility exists for individual users to experience the problem since low signal conditions are unavoidable when using any cell-phone network.

For that reason, we are not including the Verizon iPhone 4 in our list of recommended smart phones, despite its high ranking in our Ratings.

To all the Verizon subscribers out there: Have you gotten the iPhone yet?

If so, have you experienced any problems with dropped signals? Are you using a bumper?

If you haven’t made the move to iPhone, are you waiting for the 4G version that’s rumored to be on the horizon or have you found love with another phone?

Verizon iPhone 4: Mind the gap, our tests show [Consumer Reports]