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Tuesday, November 08, 2011, 04:49 am PT (07:49 am ET)

Consumer Reports declares Apple addressed antenna issue with iPhone 4S

Consumer Reports on Tuesday announced it is recommending the iPhone 4S to customers, stating that Apple's latest handset "doesn't suffer the reception problem we found in its predecessor."

The consumer advocacy group made waves last year when it ranked the iPhone 4 the best smartphone available on the market, but later changed its stance and declared it couldn't recommend the iPhone 4. Consumer Reports tested the iPhone 4 inside a controlled radio frequency isolation chamber, and found that covering the bottom left corner of the handset with one's bare hand could reduce reception.

But the group declared on Tuesday that it has conducted the same "special tests" in its labs with the iPhone 4S, and found that those supposed issues were resolved. The group also tested Apple's new 8GB iPhone 4, and said it "continues to exhibit that problem."

In addition to finding that the antenna issues were addressed, Consumer Reports also said it has not experienced any battery problems with the iPhone 4S. Some users have reported poor battery life with the device, and Apple is already testing a new build of iOS 5 designed to address that issue.

While Consumer Reports is now recommending the iPhone 4S, the group said that Apple's latest handset was unable to outscore the best new Android-based phones. Smartphones that Consumer Reports said ranked higher than the iPhone 4S were the Samsung Galaxy S II, Motorola Droid Bionic, and "several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks."

Last year's "antennagate" controversy reached such a fever pitch after the release of the iPhone 4 that Apple was prompted to uncharacteristically host a press conference to explain that signal attenuation is something that occurs with all phones. In low-signal situations, gripping the bottom left corner of the iPhone 4 can cause a dropped call.

The issue can be resolved if a case is placed on the iPhone 4, covering the metal band on its exterior that serves as the antenna. Apple gave away free iPhone 4 cases for a limited time to alleviate those concerns, and the controversy largely subsided as the iPhone 4 went on to become the company's best selling smartphone yet.

Antenna 1


Records set by the iPhone 4 are already set to be shattered by the iPhone 4S, as sales of Apple's latest smartphone topped four million in its first weekend alone. During his company's quarterly earnings conference call last month, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he's confident that a new record for iPhones will be set in the current holiday quarter.

One of the major features of the iPhone 4S is its redesigned antenna which allows for better reception and faster wireless data speeds. It's also compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks, making the iPhone 4S a "world" phone, and can connect to high-speed 14.4Mbps GSM HSDPA networks.