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Apple in 'quiet panic' over fragility of iPhone 4 glass?

updated 06:25 pm EDT, Thu October 7, 2010

May be keeping more cases out of Apple Stores

Apple is seriously concerned about the state of the glass on the iPhone 4, sources inside and outside of the company allege. Some time after problems with the device's antenna emerged, the engineering team is said to have identified another issue related to the rear glass. If dirt or debris gets trapped in a slide-on case covering the phone's back, this may potentially cause scratching. Whereas it would only ruin the look of an older iPhone, on the iPhone 4, the damage is thought to carry the risk of eventually cracking or outright fracturing the glass.

As a response, the company is said to have blocked sales of most iPhone 4 cases from Apple Stores. Only the online storefront is believed to have reversed the policy, and then just this week. The iPhone team is currently said to be running a lab with a large, dedicated test program, although there is no indication of a solution on the horizon.

The issue may be even more critical for case makers than it is for Apple. While the latter has the reputation of the iPhone at stake, as well as income reaped from accessory licensing, case manufacturers are significantly smaller and can generate much of their revenue from the high foot traffic at Apple outlets. These companies may have have been relegated to selling at third-party stores or from their own websites.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Glass back panel

    was the least desirable material selection (if you ignore the slightly less desirable polished poo back panel) for a device one might conceivably drop occasionally.
    Front panel makes sense. Back panel, not so much.

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lab grown sapphire..

    They need to switch to lab grown sapphire for the back. Anyone who wants the new back could simply stop by an apple store to get it swapped out. I recently had to replace my iPone 4 due to an internal hardware failure, but i had a vinyl skin from, it seemed to have bonded to the phone after all the days of heat we've had, days when i've been out & about, so the tech swapped out the back glass from old phone to new phone, sadly the edge segments that go over the antenna metal were on there for good so that went with the old phone. In any case, the iPhone 4 is still the thinnest smartphone out there, and this would be an incredibly simple fix.

    The old glass could be recycled.

    - A

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Also, if i'm remembering correctly, steve changed the phone's front material from plastic to glass before release. Not sure if that was for the 1st iphone or the current one.

    - A

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Citation Needed

    So MacNN is publishing rumors from random websites now? Slow news day so they had to make something up to fill space and drive ad hits? I'd take this information with a Jeep-sized boulder of salt.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Screen protectors front and back

    And then a bumper. Perfect.

  1. Donevan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Under Informed, Over Hyped

    Given the original author (the under informed Ryan) isn't sufficiently aware to grasp why more cases weren't being sold until last week, can anyone really put any faith in his 'sources'. No, it looks more like Ryan is trying to hype a story to build his own profile.

    The only panic I would get into here relates to anyone who might actually see any sense in Ryan's tale.

  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    As a material, glass is fragile

    In engineering, glass is never used as a structural element because it breaks. It is only used where it is necessary to see through something so why put it on the back of the iPhone? Not only is glass sweaty in a warm palm which makes it more likely to be dropped, when it is dropped being glass makes it more likely to shatter.

    Glass for the rear panel? What a dumb idea that was.

    Make that " is slippery in a sweaty palm..."

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Never used as structural?

    Really, SwissMac? That must explain all those glass staircases I keep seeing in Apple stores. This is chemically toughened glass. It's several times stronger than regular annealed glass. If toughened glass is so weak, try punching a car window or windshield. Unfortunately, like tempered glass, if the outer surface is compromised by a deep scratch, chemically toughened glass will shatter, which is what Apple is worried about. Although since that's well-known, it really shouldn't have taken them by surprise.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Forget BluRay

    This iPhone 4 is turning out to be a real bag-of-hurt, Steve.

    AntennaGate, Yellow ScreenGate, Cra ppy White-balanceGate, Reversed ButtonGate, Proximity SensorGate, GlassGate. What's next?

    Next I'll hear... "But I have an iPhone 4 and I don't have any of these problems."

    Yes, all the above problems are all made up because there is a worldwide conspiracy against Apple.

    *lowers and shakes head*

    I must admit that the iPhone 4 is a nice piece of kit construction wise, but it's not the ideal material for a mobile phone that is generally treated roughly, dropped, smacked around, and abused by most people. Although perhaps not the most elegant, industrial plastic is still the ideal material for a phone.

  1. macnnoel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    all this proves

    is either how gullible and/or predatory some people are...

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