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Information Overload: Is the iPhone 4 more likely to shatter?

By C.J. CASTILLO
Oct. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.


When the iPhone 4 was launched in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said they had developed "a glass that's 30 times harder than plastic."

However, the belief about the strength of that glass may be shattered, as claims are circulating that the iPhone 4 glass is 82 percent more likely to crack than the iPhone 3GS.

The independent warranty provider, SquareTrade, has released a report that claims iPhone 4 owners report 82 percent more damaged screens in the first 4 months, compared to iPhone 3GS owners. The reported accident rate for the iPhone 4 was 68 percent higher than for the iPhone 3GS.

According to SquareTrade report, "the iPhone 4 appears to be significantly more likely to break than previous versions." The report also concludes that the "new aluminosilicate Gorilla glass used in the iPhone 4 doesn't seem any less likely to break than previous models."

Square Trade analyzed iPhone accidents for more than 200,000 iPhone 4 devices covered by their warranty plan.

Now, before you iPhone 4 owners run off to buy a protective bubble for your phones, let's consider a few things.

First, consider the fact that the iPhone 4 has glass both in front and back of the device. The previous models had glass only on the front. So yes, there is a higher chance of glass getting damaged on the iPhone 4 when you consider this. It appears this wasn't factored in on the SquareTrade study.

Also, taking a look at the numbers in the report would make it seem that there is high probability your iPhone 4 will get damaged. But, some have taken a closer look at the numbers cited in the study.

I was reading a blog entry on Mashable.com (iPhone 4 Glass Breaking at Alarming Rate, But There's a Catch) that took the numbers in perspective. SquareTrade sampled 20,000 iPhone owners, and found that 3.9 percent of iPhone users suffered broken glass in the first four months, compared to 2.1 percent of the iPhone 3GS.

Jonny Evans also shared some interesting information in his Apple Holic blog on ComputerWorld.com. Evans points out that the survey showed 771 iPhone 4s with broken glass, compared to 427 iPhone 3GS broken-glass screens. Breaking the numbers down more, out of the 771 broken-glass iPhone 4s, 193 claims involved the back screen of the iPhone 4.

So, yes, there is an increase in the iPhone 4s, but keep in mind there is glass on the front and back, in contrast to the front-only glass on the 3GS.

SquareTrade does conclude its report by stating "it's important to take the accident rate into perspective. Overall, the iPhone is still a very well-constructed device, with a non-accident malfunction rate much lower than most other consumer electronics."

As with any nice, shiny and fancy new expensive gadget, you probably want to be careful with it. Even then, accidents can and will happen.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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