Consumer Reports iPhone 4 findings 'flawed'

An electromagnetic engineer who has spent much of his career working on the kind of problems currently plagueing Apple and its iPhone 4 has dismissed the findings of a respected consumer research outfit as bad science.

Bob Egan says the testing carried out by Consumer Reports, which caused a storm in the blogosphere and may have contributed to a significant drop in Apple's share price, was fundamentally flawed.

"Consumer Reports “RF” engineers should know better than to think they can run an engineering grade test for an issue like this in a shielded room. And certainly not one with people in it," he says, referring to a recent CR posting which refused to give the handset a coveted recommendation due to its reportedly poor cellular reception.

"CR claims directly that the finger effect reduces the iPhone's sensitivity by 20db as reported elsewhere, but unless CR connected to a functional point inside the iPhone, that number is fantasy," the engineer says. "Even the way they seem to have tested the change – by varying the base station simulator levels – seems to assume the iPhone receiver and/or transmitter operate in a linear fashion across all signal strengths – bad assumption."

Egan doesn't deny that the iPhone 4 has hardware or software problems which cause poor signals or dropped calls, he just questions the methods used by an outfit better equipped to test blenders and vacuum cleaners than complex electronic devices.

"I don’t know what part of this problem is Apple’s and what part is related to the AT&T network," he points out, "and we don’t know how the observed effect is, or is not, similar to other devices." [ We do. And it's got burger all to do with AT&T. Ed.]

"We also don’t know if placing a finger on the antenna bridge is detuning the antenna or detuning the receiver itself, and neither does Consumer Reports." [And do we need to? Who is this bloke? Ed.]