Consumer Reports gives iPhone 4S the thumbs up

8 Nov 2011

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The iPhone 4S

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The influential Consumer Reports, which kicked off the reception flaw saga last year after it gave the iPhone 4 a thumbs down, has given Apple’s latest smartphone, the iPhone 4S, a warm recommendation.

“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,” Consumer Reports said.

It said the iPhone 4, which is still available, continues to exhibit that problem, which it confirmed in tests of new samples of the phone. Because of the flaw, Consumer Report continues to omit the iPhone 4 from its list of recommended models.

“The Apple iPhone 4S 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.”

Consumer Reports said the new iPhone 4S scores higher in its ratings than the iPhone 4 thanks to the upgraded 8-megapixel camera, its faster A5 dual-core processor and the arrival of the “intriguing” Siri voice-based artificial intelligence feature.

iPhone 4S fails to dislodge new Android devices

However, despite the warm recommendation, the pluses did not add up sufficiently to outscore some of the new Android-based models, including the Samsung Galaxy S II, the Motorola Droid Bionic and several other phones that have bigger displays and run on faster 4G networks.

“Technically, only the AT&T version of the iPhone 4S supports 4G, running on the carrier’s HSPA+ network at download speeds of about 14Mbps, the bottom rung of what is considered to be 4G network speed."

Other phones that topped the iPhone 4S include the LG Thrill, which has the ability to capture stills and videos in 3D, and the Motorola Droid Bionic, which also has a 4.3-inch, high-resolution (540 x 960) display.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com