Glassgate? Slide-on cases breaking the glass back panel of the iPhone 4

Image showing the backside of an Apple iPhone 4

Image showing the backside of an Apple iPhone 4

First it was Antennagate and now it is Glassgate? A report from gdgt suggests that Apple is dealing with another iPhone 4 hardware flaw. The problem this time focuses on the glass backing of the iPhone 4 which is prone to scratching and even breaking when an iPhone 4 is housed within a third-party slip-on case. Ryan Block of gdgt writes,

“Apple has apparently found that non-bumper style cases — specifically those that slide onto the iPhone 4, which are occasionally prone to particulate matter getting caught between the rear of the phone and the case — can cause unexpected scratching that could quickly develop into full-on cracking or even much larger fracturing of the entire rear pane of glass. To put it another way: Apple is afraid you might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own.”

To lower the risk of scratched and broken glass on its iPhones, Apple sold only the Apple-branded bumpers and pulled the potentially offending products from its stores and online storefront. No third-party cases = no case-induced broken glass. The report goes on to assert that the iPhone team at Apple has assembled a testing lab and is reportedly working on this problem. Interesting.

Of course, it is possible that this report is incorrect. Apple may have stopped carrying third-party cases and started carrying Apple bumpers as part of its free bumper program, not because it is was afraid of some broken glass. Now that the bumper program is over, Apple has begun to introduce third-party cases to its online storefront. It is also possible that Apple is working on a new testing lab, but that lab could be used to develop new hardware materials for the next generation iPhone, not for fixing a flaw in the current version. Though this report may turn out be correct, it sounds a bit fishy to me. Anyone care to comment on the validity of this rumor?  Are you buying it or not?

[Via gdgt]

  • I’m definitely not buying it. The iPhone’s glass has a hardness comparable to sapphire crystal and I doubt that most of the dirt and debris that could potentially get into the case would be hard enough to scratch it – let alone scratch it deep enough to damage its structural integrity.

  • Richard B

    And exactly how does one get a job where all they have to do is repeat rumors and innuendo. Must be nice.

    • Yoda

      Strong is the fanboy presence, I fear.

  • I work at Apple. The truth is much worse. Jobs is going insane and firing people left and right for this massive blunder. The number of shattered phones is going through the roof, but it’s been kept quiet until now. A new plastic design is being manufactured now to stop the issue.

    • The Truth

      If you worked for Apple, you’d know that posting a comment like that could get you fired.

      I smell bullshit.

  • ytyty

    I can already see Fanboys defending.

    • ironic

      hmm.. i see the haters are already hating

  • kid2k

    They’ve got apples stuffed so far up their asses they’re coming out their mouths.

  • Frankie

    I’m not an Apple fan-boy but I admire their commitment to support. I’ve had a broken iPod a broken Mac and a broken iPhone replaced, no questions asked. That seams more than enough to me to put some goodwill on the brand.

    No one’s gonna take away my PC, though! 😉

  • Brandi Weishaar

    I had my iPhone 4 for 2 weeks when I discovered the back of my phone was completely shattered. I don’t know if it was the 3rd party case, but I was pissed to say the least. I took it to the Apple store who told me it would be $240 to replace the glass as they didn’t have the parts to just fix the back…I bought the warranty from my wireless provider and am getting a new iPhone 4 no thanks to Apple. It’s supposed to be made of helicopter glass…you’d think that’d hold up a little longer then 2 weeks despite the case or whatever it may be.

  • Mimble

    I am so glad I haven’t bought an iPhone – I like all the neat stuff you can do with them, but they seem to be more trouble then they are worth.

  • Dani

    Well, I got my Belkin transparent shield case through the “iPhone 4 Case Program”, I was very happy with it, but today (11th Oct.) I read a piece of news such as this one saying that some shields were cracking the back glass panel of the iPhone 4. I thought it was a lie and that it was nonsense to have the back glass cracking like magic.

    But what was my surprise when I removed the Belkin shield to check the back glass and saw what seemed a scratch. “A scratch?” I thought. And after looking at it very carefully for some minutes, I thought “A scratch that grows!?!?!?!?”. And there you are, a crack that shouldn’t be. Now the question is: how long will the glass resist until it completely breaks into pieces? I’m taking the phone to Apple Carecenter or whatever it is called here in Spain, but these kind of things are unacceptable in such an expensive device…

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