Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Consumer Reports gives thumbs up to iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S "doesn't suffer the reception problem" of its older sibling, the iPhone 4, Consumer Reports said Tuesday, which has put Apple's phone back on its "recommended" list after more than a year of being off it because of the previous model's antenna woes.

"In special reception tests of the iPhone 4S that duplicated those we did on the iPhone 4, the newer phone did not display the same reception flaw, which involves a loss of signal strength when you touch a spot on the phone’s lower left side while you’re in an area with a weak signal," wrote Mike Gikas on the magazine's electronics blog.

The iPhone 4 "continues to exhibit that problem, we confirmed in tests of new samples of the phone. Because of the flaw, we continue to omit the iPhone 4 from our list of recommended models, despite its otherwise fine performance."

The phone's antenna wraps around the phone's casing at a spot where many people hold the phone with their left hand, which led it to be called the "death grip," and to a PR problem for Apple known as "Antennagate." Among the changes in he iPhone 4S it that it has two antennas to help improve call quality.

The iPhone 4S also gets thumbs-up for "an upgraded camera, a faster 'dual-core' processor, and the addition of the intriguing Siri voice-activated feature," the magazine said.

The phone did "very well in our standard tests of battery life; like the iPhone 4, it scores Very Good overall on that attribute. And the iPhone 4S and new samples of the iPhone 4 have displayed no notable battery problems in additional special tests we carried out, after some owners complained on user forums of short run times with some samples of both phones."

Apple has acknowledged the battery life issue for some users, and is planning a software fix in the weeks ahead.

But the magazine isn't making the iPhone 4S king of the smartphone heap.

All of the phone's positive attributes "were not enough, however, to allow the iPhone 4S to outscore the best new Android-based phones" in Consumer Reports' ratings. The magazine said its top scorers included Samsung's Galaxy S II phones, the Motorola Droid Bionic, and "several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks."

The magazine also gave higher rankings to phones like the LG Thrill, "which has the ability to capture stills and videos in 3D, as well as display them on its 4.3-inch 3D display, and the Motorola Droid Bionic ... which also has a superb 4.3-inch, high-resolution (540 x 960) display, with excellent keypad readability under most lighting conditions, even in bright light."


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