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Analyst says ‘Consumer Reports’ test of the iPhone 4 flawed, ‘barely scientific’


Bob Egan, a technology blogger and global head of research/chief analyst at the TowerGroup, says the “Consumer Reports” on the antenna/reception problems of the iPhone 4 — which left the publication unable to recommend the smartphone — is flawed and “can barely be counted as scientific.”

Egan says “Consumer Reports” replicated the same uncontrolled, unscientific experiments that other sites have done. He also wonders if the issue is even entirely Apple’s, supposing that AT&T could share some of the blame for the signal variance and call dropping problems.

On his own web site, “Viewpoints by Bob Egan,” ( he had this to say: “Let me start off by saying that for much of my career, I worked as an electromagnetic engineer on exactly the kind of issues that now face Apple on the iPhone4. But this isn’t about me. It is about Consumer Reports and its not so scientific testing on the iPhone 4.

“Consumer reports ‘RF’ engineers should know better than to think they can run an engineering grade test for an issue like this in a shielded room. And certainly not one with people in it.
To even reasonably run a scientific test, the iPhone should have been sitting on a non-metallic pedestal inside an anechoic chamber. The base station simulator should have been also sitting outside the chamber and had a calibrated antenna plumbed to it from inside the chamber.

“[Regarding] CR’s claim directly that the finger effect reduces the iPhones sensitivity by 20db as reported elsewhere … unless CR connected to a functional point inside the iPhone that number is fantasy. Even the way they seem to have tested the change — by varying the base station simulator levels — seems to assume the iPhone receiver and/or transmitter operate in a linear fashion (the same way) across all signal strengths — bad assumption.”

Egan has more than 30 years of experience in information technology. Before joining TowerGroup, he founded and led Mobile Competency, a boutique market analyst and consulting company focused on enterprise mobile and wireless technologies and solutions. He previously held corporate, product development, and technical leadership positions at Corechange, Gartner, Digital Equipment Corp., Waters Associates, Fenwal Inc and GTE Research Laboratories.
As technical director for Emerging Technologies at Digital, he was responsible for some of the pioneering efforts in wireless LANs, data-over-cable TV, and mobile IP. As a vice president with Gartner Group, Egan received the firm’s Thought Leadership Achievement Award. “Wireless Review” has called Egan the “Market Maker,” and the Technology Marketing Group has named him one of the top six most influential industry analysts.

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