Apple's iPhone 4S has been officially recommended by Consumer Reports. That could prove a minor relief for Apple, whose previous smartphone, the iPhone 4, did not receive a recommendation from the watchdog organization.
Consumer Reports' issues with the iPhone 4 centered on the smartphone's infamous antenna issues. Soon after the device rolled out in summer 2010, a subset of users reported a signal drop whenever their bare skin touched a specific part of the exterior antenna rim. Apple eventually dealt with the issue by offering its iPhone 4 customers free rubber bumpers, which covered the rim.
"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," Consumer Reports' Mike Gikas wrote in a Nov. 8 note. "The iPhone 4, which is still available, continues to exhibit that problem, we confirmed in tests of new samples of the phone."
Consumer Reports rated the iPhone 4S higher than the iPhone 4, due mostly to its combination of upgraded hardware, including Apple's proprietary A5 processor and 8-megapixel camera, and new Siri "digital assistant." However, a handful of Android smartphones-including the Samsung Galaxy S II-still managed to top the iPhone 4S in the organization's estimation.
Consumer Reports also carried out some "special tests" on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 battery life, after "some users complained on user forums of short run times with some samples of both phones." It found the smartphones -displayed no notable battery problems" in those additional tests.
Apple had acknowledged a "few bugs" affecting the battery life of some iOS 5 devices, confirming earlier reports by users around the world.
"A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices," Apple wrote in a Nov. 2 statement to AllThingsD. "We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks."
The iPhone 4S managed to sell 4 million units by the end of its first weekend of release, reaffirming the smartphone franchise's popularity among consumers. During Apple's Oct. 18 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook suggested the company is doing everything to ensure iPhone 4S supply remains adequate to holiday demand. "We're confident that we will have a large supply," he said. "I don't want to predict when supply and demand might balance. ... I'm confident we will set an all-time record for iPhone this quarter."