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Consumer Reports ranks Apple's iPhone 4 best smartphone available

Despite saying it "can't recommend" iPhone 4 in its blog, Consumer Reports also assigns Apple's newest phone the "highest rated" score as the best smartphone currently available in its official paid research reports.

While waffling between official blog entires that first told users there's "no reason not to buy" iPhone 4 related to its antenna issues, and then backtracking to say it "can't recommend" the phone until Apple addresses its antenna issues with a free fix (after also noting that applying a piece of tape solves the signal attenuation issues it found in testing), Consumer Reports has ranked iPhone 4 the best smartphone on the market.

The group's latest blog entry did note in passing that, despite refusing to give iPhone 4 a "recommended" listing, "its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest ratings of smart phones that were released today."

However, web surfers interested in the group's official comparative rankings probably wouldn't notice that if they only follow the site's official blog and the avalanche of blog responses that its postings have generated, because visiting its online mobile phone rankings page only presents an ad asking visitors to pay for a subscription in order to view its rankings (below).

Once users pay for "complete access to smart phones," Consumer Reports represents a detailed outline of its cellphone rankings where the new iPhone 4 leads the pack with a "highest rated" score of 76 points out of a possible 100. The next-highest ranked phones are Apple's previous generation iPhone 3GS and the HTC Sprint Evo 4G, which are both ranked at 74 points overall.

As noted by John Paczkowski of the Wall Street Journal "Digital Daily" blog, the Consumer Reports paid evaluation rates the display, navigation, web browsing, multimedia and battery life of iPhone 4 as "excellent," gives its phoning and messaging a "very good" ranking, and describes voice quality as "good."

"Well this is ironic," Paczkowski writes. "iPhone 4 is hands-down the best smartphone available today, but Consumer Reports advises against buying it."

Apple moderators have been scrambling to delete negative chat about the most recent Consumer Reports blog entry from its support forums, given that the group only provides the full story to users who pay for its research.

Consumer Reports does not note that competing smartphones have far more serious problems that can not be resolved by using a protective case or applying a piece of tape. The outrage surrounding the iPhone 4 antenna seems to be a particularly vexing issue among advocates of competing smartphone platforms. As one comment notes, "Isn't it interesting the people who are having this problem don't even own iPhones?"