Mobile

Consumer Reports won’t recommend the Verizon iPhone. Do consumers care?

The new Verizon iPhone may have antenna issues that are similar to its counterpart on AT&T, according to Consumer Reports.

In one respect, this isn’t a huge surprise, since the Verizon iPhone 4 appears to be the same as the AT&T iPhone 4 — just, you know, on Verizon. If the antenna design created minor reception issues on one network (at least if you held the phone in a certain way), those problems wouldn’t go away if you moved to another network.

On the other hand, Apple seemed to escape any mention of antenna problems in the early reviews of the Verizon device. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg didn’t bring up any antenna issues, and TechCrunch’s MG Siegler said he tried and failed to replicate the antenna problem.

So there’s a discrepancy between CR’s results and the reviewers’. Even the consumer advocacy group admits that the Verizon antenna problems are limited to “low-signal conditions”, but it argued that this is still a significant problem “since low signal conditions are unavoidable when using any cell phone network.” (That’s true, I guess, but they’re probably much more avoidable on Verizon than on AT&T.)

As a result, CR says that it won’t include the Verizon iPhone on its list of recommended smartphones.

But will it make any difference in sales? Probably not. After all, the earlier antenna scandal (dubbed “antennagate”) got a lot of publicity, with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs saying he was “stunned and upset” by the CR’s criticisms, yet the iPhone 4 was a tremendous hit.

I suppose there is one risk: Verizon iPhone customers were probably waiting for this device specifically because they wanted better reception, so they’re going to be less tolerant than AT&T customers who accept dropped calls as a normal part of the iPhone experience.

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