Consumer Reports, the influential publication of product and service reviews, could not recommend the iPhone 4 because of internal antenna issues affecting the phone's call quality. Apple has apparently fixed this so-called "death grip" problem with the release of the iPhone 4S, and Consumer Reports has branded the new device with its seal of approval.
From a news release on the Consumer Reports website entitled "Consumer Reports recommends the iPhone 4S":
The Apple iPhone 4S is among the recommended models in our newly updated Ratings of smart phones. Apple’s newest smart phone performed very well in our tests, and while it closely resembles the iPhone 4 in appearance, it doesn’t suffer the reception problem we found in its predecessor in special tests in our labs.
Consumer Reports still could not recommend the iPhone 4, however, as it "continues to exhibit" weak signal problems. When the iPhone 4 was released in 2010, the publication famously concluded that "there is a problem with its reception":
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. Due to this problem, we can’t recommend the iPhone 4.
It is perhaps worth noting that Consumer Reports recommended the iPhone 4 weeks before un-recommending it due to antenna issues when it was first released.
Despite a growing number of complaints on the Apple forums, call quality on the iPhone 4S has not tainted public perception of Apple's latest smartphone as it did the iPhone 4; rather, it has been poor battery life that has caused the largest uproar. Apple recently confirmed that the issue was a bug in the new operating system, iOS 5, and not in the iPhone 4S hardware itself, that was causing the battery drain. Apple has said it will release an update in the coming weeks.
Interestingly, the iPhone 4's feature set earned top marks last year from Consumer Reports, despite the device's antenna issues. However, this year, Consumer Reports notes that several Android phones topped the iPhone 4S in terms of ratings. Among the honorees were the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Droid Bionic (both 4G phones with larger display screens) and the LG Thrill (which costs $100 less than the iPhone 4S on AT&T). Consumer Reports subscribers can find the full list of recommended phones here.
Take a look at the slideshow to view some of users' biggest problems with the new iPhone (so far).