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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

iPhone's glass back giving Apple headaches

(Credit: Apple)

Apple likes glass. A lot. You can tell that much from its many retail stores, and in its products where glass is used in displays, notebook trackpads, and both the front and back of the iPhone 4.

That last place though is what might be causing the company some headaches. That's according to a report today from Gdgt, which says that slip-on cases — the kind that cover the back and sometimes front of the iPhone 4 — have been the cause of serious cosmetic damage with the backside of the iPhone. Dirt and other loose bits of debris from your pocket end up in that space. Over time, that can lead to a shattered backside as small scratches grow to become large cracks that travel across the back of the device, much like a ding on a windshield.

This has become a big enough problem, the report says, that Apple's engineers have been hard at work in "a quiet lockdown", testing various third-party cases to see how widespread the problem is, and presumably to make sure it does not happen with future iterations of the device.

The news comes at an especially interesting time given the recent expiration of Apple's free iPhone 4 case program (which included Apple's no closed-back bumper), and the reported beginnings of mass production for a CDMA version of the iPhone said to be coming to Verizon in the US in early 2011. If Apple is planning to bring any physical design changes to that version of the iPhone, a back that's susceptible to cracking could very well be holding up that process.

This wouldn't be the first time cracks have cropped up on Apple's hardware, or the iPhone line for that matter. Both the Mac G4 Cube, which was introduced in 2000, and the iPhone 3G experienced reports from users that the outsides were developing "hairline surface cracks". Similar blemishes had appeared on white versions of the company's MacBook notebooks, which Apple reportedly began acknowledging and repairing early last year.


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StuartT posted a comment   

@simonR. That ultra fast a4 processor has been underclocked to 800mhz by Apple. That's why it runs a bit slower than phones like the desire that have a true 1ghz processor.


Ray of perth posted a comment   

I have had my Nokia N95 for nearly 4 years now, it has been dropped on the road, dropped onto concrete floor, left out in the rain and it still goes great. I have had video calling without WiFi since I brought the phone, the camera has taken hundreds of photos and many long videos also. I have surfed the web on it, albeit on a (by todays standards) small screen. I have transferred videos from my TVPC and watched them on the screen also. This is from what is now an "old phone" Most of the technology in the "Crapples" has been available on Nokia for years. The quality of thge phone is great. No bugs or problems like the "Crapples" and soon I will be updating to the new generation Nokias, which leave the Phone 4 behind. Another day - another Apple bug!!


Mixx of Sydney posted a comment   

Brought a fake leather vinyl protector for the back. That in conjunction with any case and your set. No dirt will get in...Those that can't notice any improvements since the 3GS or 3G must either be old or have a CHIP on their shoulder and complain about everything...


Daryl posted a comment   

Trapping a grain of sand between glass surface and a plastic covering is mainly physics and not Apple's fault. Especailly with third party cases.
This sometimes happens with the old stype mobile phones and the leather and plastic cases.
I for one like the glass back and I used Apple bumper and decided not to enclose it in a full body case. Even then I wondered about possible minor abrasion with dust trapped under the edge of the bumper.
The surface of the glass is the strongest part due to the way it's tempered and any abrasion can act like a glass cutter where a glass sheet can break along a scratch or scored surface.


RichardM1 posted a comment   

Not unique to the glass back. Whilst the glass back may brake the plastic scratches badly. In fact most damage was done when I had my 3G in a skin. Took it out and kept to out.


mayobloke posted a comment   

well the iphone 4 tag line

this changes everything. again.

its the same phone but with more problems. I wanted an Iphone 4 as I am very happy with my 3g. picked up the iphone 4 and found nothing new and exciting about it :(


SimonR posted a reply   

If you can't notice the difference between the 480x320 TFT screen on the 3GS and the 960x640 IPS screen on the iPhone 4, you have serious eyesight problems. Games and any content rendered at this resolution (and pixel density) look incredible.

Then there's the vastly superior 5MP camera, flash (which can also act as a torch), the HD 720p video recording, the ultra fast A4 processor, gyroscope (awesome for accurate tracking in games) and the list goes on.

Picking it up in a shop won't reveal it's power and beauty. Buying one and jailbreaking it certainly does :)

As for the crappy glass back, I admit that it's a poor design choice. Luckily I have a fake leather stick covering the back of my phone, then a case over that. It's pretty stupid you have to go to such great lengths to protect the phone and improve reception, but given the polished superiority of iOS4 and the huge App Store ecosystem, I still think the iPhone 4 is the way to go.

I'll start to take a closer look at switching to Android when Gingerbread comes along..

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