The respected consumer advocates and technical experts at Consumer Reports have independently tested Apple's controversial new iPhone 4 smartphone and concluded what the rest of us have known for weeks: The device ships with a major hardware defect related to the 3G radio that will not be fixed by Apple's upcoming software update. As a result, the organization recommends that consumers not purchase the iPhone 4.

"Consumer Reports' engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception," a Consumer Reports blog post reads. "Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4."

Consumers Reports "calls into question" Apple's claims that its forthcoming software iPhone fix will help consumers, since the fix will only change the way the device reports reception strength and won't address the iPhone 4 hardware defect at all. The organization also directed the blame away from AT&T; the wireless carrier has been a convenient target for angry iPhone users for three years now, but it's becoming clear that many of the iPhone's reception issues were, in fact, Apple's fault.

In an official statement about the iPhone 4 reception issues earlier this month, Apple claimed that "gripping almost any mobile phone in certain ways will reduce its reception ... This is true of iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, as well as many Droid, Nokia, and RIM phones." Not so, says the Consumer Reports, which has been testing products since the 1930s. After closely examining other smartphones running on AT&T's network, including older versions of the iPhone, the organization found that "none of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4."

Consumer Report's verdict on the iPhone again raises questions about the testing regimen—or lack thereof—that Apple products undergo before being unleashed on the public. And this lack of testing is especially problematic because Apple's more successful products, like the iPhone, quickly sell millions of units. Consumer Reports has a recommendation for Apple, too: "Come up with a permanent and free fix for the antenna problem."

For those customers who were lured by Apple's hype-heavy marketing and already purchased an iPhone 4, Consumer Reports notes that covering a gap in the device's antenna with duct tape will solve the problem, albeit in an unaesthetic fashion. Another solution would be to purchase a case, though again the organization doesn't believe that consumers should shoulder the financial burden of fixing this issue.