Do you know somebody with a cracked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S? The device is becoming increasingly infamous for an easily broken glass casing. Drop it once from a height of about 3 feet, and you have a very good chance of smashing your beautiful device, resulting in, at best, a lengthy trip to the Apple Retail store for a warranty replacement.
This video demonstrates the shocking difference in durability between the Super AMOLED screen used in the Samsung Galaxy S2 vs the iPhone 4 and 4S.
Quite frankly, the fragility of the device is beyond a joke: it is beyond embarrassing, in fact. Deliberatly releasing a high-end, highly expensive, highly portable product constructed out of deceptively fragile glass is downright irresponsible and class actionable.
I’m not the only one who thinks so.
In January 2011, Apple began facing a consumer fraud class action lawsuit over allegations that the chemically strengthened “aluminosilicate” glass used its iPhone 4 is defective. The “defect” has not been addressed in the new iPhone 4S either, resulting in the fastest selling consumer smartphone also becoming the fastest breaking consumer smartphone on the planet… not exactly a title Apple should want to hold.
While the “defective” claim may not be true, it is still legally important no to have misleading advertisements. The class action suit claims that Apple was marketing the phone on the strength of the iPhone 4 being “20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic” and is “ultradurable”. This has continued with the iPhone 4S:
Warranty provider SquareTrade found that iPhone 4 and 4S owners are in fact 82 percent more likely to accidentally break the glass compared to the previous iPhone 3GS and other smartphones.
Perhaps in response to this, Apple has, instead of actually improving the glass issue in iPhone 4S, emphasised that iPhone comes with a 1-year hardware warranty. The fact that this is emphasised as if a feature at all, should come as a huge warning sign for potential iOS users. It is, in reality, a consolation prize and does not offset the personal cost in time and inconvenience experienced by victims of the glass issue.
I know what some of you are thinking: If you buy an iPhone 4S you should know it’s glass, so tough luck. Well this is where you’re wrong: as a consumer of an expensive device precisely designed to be ultraportable, it is a reasonable expectation that the device be made to be at least as durable to a reasonable standard. Being the top-end device, you would expect this to be above standard. For a device primarily designed to be freely ultraportable, this is well below acceptable.
The statistics are so high, while the advertisement of it’s durability so blatant, that this is arguably negligent design on part of Apple.
The biggest mystery is why the company continues to waste literally millions on replacement screens while the cost of adopting Corning’s patented Gorilla Glass or the 20+ year old plastic-that-looks-just-like-glass technologies are much cheaper, lighter, clearer and equally functional solutions. Obviously the “use real glass, because glass is sexier and helps justify the exorbitant price” tactic has been employed here, and employed well over common sense.
The most perplexing part? The original iPhone did indeed use Corning’s Gorilla Glass …and breakage incidents were a much lower percentage of users than today. (Source: “Steve Jobs“ Biography by Walter Isaacson)
I’m surprised Apple allows such an embarassment to continue. Until this is settled, I will continue to smirk somewhat sadly at everyone buying ugly, protective lunch boxes for their otherwise unrealistically fragile iPhones.
For the awfully large number of people who are excusably misinformed about the defects and how to get them addressed: If this happens to your iPhone 4S, do not hesitate to take it in for repair, Apple will replace it right then and there, on the spot, if it’s within the first year.
It’s the least they can do to sweep this broken glass mess under the mat.