By John D. Sutter, CNN
July 13, 2010
(CNN) — Has it really come to this?
The most talked-about phone in the U.S. — Apple’s iPhone 4 — has a design flaw that’s best fixed with a sliver of duct tape, according to Consumer Reports.
“It may not be pretty, but it works,” writes Mike Gikas on that nonprofit consumer group’s electronics blog.
The patch — which sounds like it’d be more appropriate for kitchen plumbing than for a phone that retails for $200 to $300, plus an AT&T contract — is supposed to correct an apparent problem with the iPhone 4′s metal antenna.
In a controlled test, Consumer Reports found that people who hold the iPhone 4 in a way that covers up an antenna connector on the phone’s lower left side will experience poorer reception and possibly dropped calls.
But if you slap a piece of duct tape over that antenna connection, the reception problems go away, the group says.
“When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side — an easy thing, especially for lefties — the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal,” Consumer Reports says.
“Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.”
Many others are testing the phone, too, and coming up with wacky solutions for the apparent reception problems.
Justin Horn, of the site WhenWillApple.com, suggests iPhone 4 users should wear a type of oven mitt called the “Ove Glove” when they need to make calls. The thick glove prevents dropped calls, he says.
“This test produced the best results with zero signal loss, even trumping the results I got with the bumper earlier!” he writes, referring to the “bumper” iPhone 4 cases Apple sells on its site for $29.
“Another plus, the Ove Glove is half the price of the bumper.”
Apple did not respond to a CNN request for comment on this story.
On July 2, the company posted a public letter about the iPhone 4, in which it said reception problems were perceived, not real, and that a software update would fix the problem. Essentially, Apple said the formula used to calculate signal strength was flawed, so the number of reception-indicating “bars” on its phones did not correspond with actual phone reception.
“Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place,” the Cupertino, California, company said in the post.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, was more blunt in an e-mailed response to a concerned iPhone 4 owner.
“Just avoid holding it in that way,” he wrote.