Consumer Reports Declares ‘Antennagate’ Over with iPhone 4S

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Good news, would-be iPhone 4S buyers still unconvinced Apple’s death-grip reception troubles with the iPhone 4 didn’t carry over to the lookalike iPhone 4S: Consumer Reports claims they’ve been banished.

“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,” writes CR, adding the iPhone 4S to its list of “recommended” phones.

(MORE: Apple iPhone 4S Battery Life Still Circling the Drain?)

That’s an honor never bestowed upon the iPhone 4, which CR recently tested again using “new samples,” noting that the iPhone 4 “continues to exhibit that problem.” Because of the flaw, the magazine says it will “continue to omit the iPhone 4 from our list of recommended models, despite its otherwise fine performance.”

It’s not a problem I’ve noticed, speaking as an iPhone 4 owner since Verizon got into the game last February. I use a protective plastic case, however, which wraps around the edges and prevents my hands from making direct contact with the phone’s looping silver-metal perimeter.

Another interesting takeaway: CR says the iPhone 4S did “very well” on its standard battery tests, noting that both the iPhone 4S and new samples of the iPhone 4 “displayed no notable battery problems in additional special tests we carried out.” The magazine conducted the supplemental tests after noticing users complaining on various support forums that the 4S’s battery life was subpar, a problem Apple has since acknowledged and says will be fixed in an upcoming iOS 5 software update.

CR‘s final take, no surprise: “Overall, the new iPhone 4S scores higher in the Ratings than the iPhone 4.” It certainly ought to, with its faster processor, superior camera and Siri voice command software. Whether those kinds of evolutionary updates—and now, declaration by a respected consumer advocacy mag that the phone is reception-issue-free—will be enough to nudge you toward a purchase remains a question of timing (due for an upgrade?) and taste.

MORE: Rumor: You Thought Siri Was Exclusive to Apple’s iPhone 4S?

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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