iphone and steve jobsConsumer Reports says nay to recommending the iPhone 4, despite Apple's offer of a free case, a senior electronics editor from the publication said Friday. Apparently, close only cuts it when playing horseshoes.

Apple's (AAPL) limited offer of a free case and comments made by CEO Steve Jobs at the company's press and analyst conference Friday presents a situation that's keeping the coveted recommendation on hold, according to Mike Gikas, a Consumer Reports senior electronics editor.

"We're pleased that Apple is offering a free case, and it's a good first step, but we don't see it as a permanent solution," Gikas said. "Steve Jobs said it's only offered until Sept. 30, and it's not clear whether they'll extend it."

Some of the issues Consumer Reports has with the offer and Jobs' comments include:
  • Apple will provide free cases from an assortment of suppliers, which would require Consumer Reports to test each case type with the iPhone 4 and assign a rating. Potentially, there could be a dozen Consumer Reports ratings for the iPhone 4.
  • Uncertainty surrounding whether the limited offer of the free case will be extended beyond Sept. 30; whether hardware and software changes are coming to the iPhone 4 in the near future; and whether Apple would entertain an iPhone 4 recall.
"We can only vouch for the phone out of the box," Gikas said, noting a complete iPhone 4 would be one that comes out of the box with a bumper and has had all its software and hardware tweaks completed for the particular model that Consumer Reports is recommending.

Apple's "Wishy-Washy" Offer

In its iPhone 4 test announced earlier this week, the product-testing publication said it was withholding its recommendation because its tests showed the phone dropped calls or encountered poor reception when a gap between the antennas in the device's lower left corner was covered. Although its subsequent tests with the Apple bumper demonstrated a fix for the reception problem, Consumer Reports noted Apple need to make a free, permanent fix to the iPhone 4.

While Apple addressed the "free" portion of Consumer Reports' complaints, it has yet to resolve the permanent issue.

"The fact is what they're offering seems wishy-washy. They're offering a temporary solution and a varied one at that," Gikas said. "With all these variables, it's unlikely we'll change the recommendation status anytime soon."

Apple could not be reached for an immediate comment.

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