Despite the huge publicity around the iPhone 4's antenna design issue, people are still rushing to by the device in droves. While the public loves the device, Consumer Reports however, said that it can't recommend the device based on the reception issue, which it reproduced itself.
This isn't to say that Consumer Reports didn't love the device. In fact, its report fairly gushed over the iPhone 4, with them saying that "its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest Ratings of smart phones that were released today."
However, it's usage as a phone in which the iPhone 4 suffers, at least if you hold it in such a way as to bridge the gap between antennas on the lower left-hand side. Naturally, you can buy a case, or even simply put tape over the area (either of which CR recommends).
[...] we can't recommend the iPhone 4.
We reached this conclusion after testing all three of our iPhone 4s (purchased at three separate retailers in the New York area) in the controlled environment of CU's radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber. In this room, which is impervious to outside radio signals, our test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers. We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.
Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength."
The tests also indicate that AT&T's network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4's much-reported signal woes.
Our issue with the iPhone 4's signal issues isn't so much the problem itself. After all, we'd never carry such a valuable device around sans case. It's the response by Apple, which seems to be that it's not a big issue, or that it's all about signal indicators (as CR notes).
Also, asking folks to buy a case to fix a design flaw grates on many. CR added if Apple came up with a permanent (but free) fix for the issue, they would revisit their recommendation decision.
CR's annual auto issue is frequently used by buyers. Will this report make a difference in sales? Probably not, based on the sales figures so far.