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Consumer Reports gives iPhone 4 the thumbs down

US web site Consumer Reports, which is very much like Which? in the UK, has given the iPhone 4 a big fat fail because of its poor reception.

The outfit put the popular handset through its paces in a series of rigorous tests and came to the conclusion that, although it was undoubtedly the smartest phone on the market, in one respect it failed. The outfit couldn't recommend it to readers because of the well-documented flaw in the antenna design.

CR dismissed Apple's claims that dropped carrier signals experienced when gripping the case in a certain way were down to false reporting in the phone's software after testing the device in a radio frequency isolation chamber.

The test found that shorting out the two sections of the lower left case with a finger would reduce the signal strength by as much as 20Db, enough to cause dropped calls. CR tested a number of other handsets, none of which displayed the same behaviour.

The tests also brought in to question claims that the Iphone 4's signal woes might be down caused by AT&T's notoriously flaky network in the USA.

The latest offering from Apple scored higher than any other handset in just about every other test but the fact of the matter is, it's a phone, and if it can't make phone calls, it fails.

"It sports the sharpest display and best video camera we've seen on any phone," said tester Mike Gikas, "and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller. But Apple needs to come up with a permanent - and free - fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4."

CR found that sticking a strip of gaffer tape over the offending area on the phone's case solved the ducking signals, but that's hardly in keeping with Apple's awesome aesthetics, is it?