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Consumer Reports won't 'recommend' Verizon iPhone because of antenna

Consumer Reports is dissing the Verizon iPhone 4 for its antenna, just as it did last year with the same model sold by AT&T, even though the antenna on the Verizon version of the phone was moved to a new location on the device.

"The Verizon iPhone 4 has a problem that could cause the phone to drop calls, or be unable to place calls, in weak signal conditions, Consumer Reports engineers have found in lab tests," the publication said on its blog Friday.

"Holding the Verizon iPhone 4 in a specific but quite natural way can cause dropped calls in weak signal conditions, our tests found."

For Verizon's iPhone 4, Apple moved the antenna to a less prominent place than the version of the phone sold by AT&T.'s Wilson Rothman noted last month: "Though the bottom antenna gaps — which on the AT&T iPhone 4 can be grasped to recreate the 'grip of death' known to reduce reception and occasionally drop calls — are still in the same place, the top antenna gap is moved. Instead of being located up next to the headphone jack, it is located on the side, above the mute switch.

"Though this doesn't necessarily correspond to any difference in performance, it did cause the switch and volume buttons to drop down 'ever so slightly,' " according to another employee who tested the phone.

Consumer Reports is adamant about the issue:

The Verizon iPhone 4 closely resembles the original AT&T iPhone 4 in many positive respects, including offering great multimedia functionality, a sharp screen, and the best MP3 player we've seen on a phone. Unfortunately, it also shares with its sibling the possibility of compromised performance in low-signal conditions when used without a bumper or case. As noted earlier, there have not been widespread reports of reception difficulties with the Verizon iPhone 4, and Verizon's network, unlike AT&T's, has received above-average scores from our readers for the reliability of its voice service in the past. (Those scores reflect data gathered before the launch of the Verizon iPhone 4.) 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. Although Apple no longer offers a free case to buyers of the iPhone 4, as it did for a time after the problem was first discovered on the AT&T version, the company has said in the past that it will consider requests for a free case from customers who buy the phone and subsequently experience reception problems.

We've reached out to Verizon and Apple for comment on this, and are awaiting word. Those of you with Verizon iPhones, what are you finding to be the case? Let us know.

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