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Apple Reportedly Heading Off iPhone 'Glassgate' 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-just-not-holding-it-right dept.
alphadogg writes "Apple is reportedly working behind the scenes to address scratching and cracking of the iPhone's glass back panel by certain third-party cases. This 'Glassgate' story got rolling with a report in the gdgt newsletter by Ryan Block, who says he spoke with sources inside and outside of Apple about this issue, but was unable to get an official Apple comment. Block 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.' Apple is said to be taking it seriously, looking to avoid the sort of backlash it got when reports surfaced over the summer that the iPhone 4's antennas didn't work correctly when users gripped the phones in a certain (and quite natural) way."
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Apple Reportedly Heading Off iPhone 'Glassgate'

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  • next up (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:27PM (#33838778)
    Next up assgate, you don't want to know about this defect trust me.
  • Crazy Idea! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:28PM (#33838786) Homepage
    Don't make things that are exposed to shocks, scratches and scrapes out of glass! Use diamondoid materials instead.
    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:39PM (#33838972) Homepage Journal

      Forget Diamondoid, use Diamondium! - Hubert J. Farnsworth

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Forget Diamondoid, use Diamondium! - Hubert J. Farnsworth

        Ha! Diamondium is pathetic! My Diamondillium is superior in every way!

        -Dr. Wernstrom

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Werrrnstrom!
    • Re:Crazy Idea! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:20PM (#33839518)

      Actually, you don't want a harder material -- the harder the material it is, the more brittle it is. It will resist scrapes and scratches, but at some point, dropping or bending the phone will cause it to shatter (quite spectacularly, I wouldn't want your diamondoid phone in my back pocket when it shatters).

      I think a more ductile material would be a better case material -- i've seen some work on self healing plastics where minor scratches eventually disappear. I suppose this may be where Apple's liquid metal purchase will come into the picture.

      • I believe he is referring to the ability to add a very thin diamond coating to surfaces. this gives you the scratch residence without all of the brittleness issues.
        • by hawguy (1600213)

          I believe he is referring to the ability to add a very thin diamond coating to surfaces. this gives you the scratch residence without all of the brittleness issues.

          Did you read the same post as me? He said:

          Don't make things that are exposed to shocks, scratches and scrapes out of glass! Use diamondoid materials instead.

          That doesn't sound like he's advocating evaporating a thin layer of diamond coating, it sounds like he's advocating using an diamond like material called diamonoid (which doesn't currently exist)

          Adding a thin diamond coating would help with the issue of minor scratches, but coating glass with diamond wouldn't address the cracking/shattering problem people are experiencing when they drop their phones. Coating a ductile metal surface with a hard (and brittle) diamond

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StikyPad (445176)

      I'm still waiting for my glass tires, crystal shock absorbers, and Pyrex (R) leaf springs. Since nobody else seems to be doing it, I'm crossing my finger that Apple starts making cars.

    • Why not sapphire? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by swb (14022) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:42PM (#33839796)

      My Tag Heuer watch has a sapphire crystal and it has ZERO scratches on it after 3+ years of continuous wear. I wear this watch all the time, including times where one might question the wisdom of wearing a $2500 watch (ie, crawling in the crawlspace working on a lighting/wiring project).

      • by jimicus (737525)

        Probably cost. A sapphire crystal an inch and a half in diameter for a watch and a sapphire crystal cut for the size of an iPhone are going to be two very different animals.

        (And I'm not surprised it's not scratched. IIRC sapphire is only one notch down from diamond on the Moh's hardness scale, and when the glass on my own watch eventually gets badly scratched I intend to replace it with sapphire).

      • by cowscows (103644)

        I just did a quick search on google on sapphire, and saw a couple sites that mentioned that sapphire is actually more brittle than glass (but also more scratch resistant). So while sapphire might avoid the scratching that can sometimes result in cracking, it'd be more like to suffer damage from drops or other impacts that sometimes result in cracking.

    • by DrVomact (726065)

      I didn't know they used glass for the backs of iPhones. I know the screen is covered by glass, but I didn't know they made the whole shell out of that material. It seems to me that this is indeed likely make the phones too fragile—I figured that dropping my 3G was a bad thing because it could break the screen, I didn't realize the whole thing might shatter all over the floor. So using some kind of shock-absorbing case should be considered mandatory for such devices.

      It's still a puzzling design decis

  • ok seriously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravenspear (756059) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:29PM (#33838798)
    why does every type of problem that anyone encounters now have to be suffixed with "gate".

    Not every problem is the result of a conspiracy to cover up illegal activity, so the analogy doesn't really fit imo.

    Looks like this was just a case (no pun intended) of design oversight.
  • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:35PM (#33838900)
    "Those users are putting their cases on wrong." - Steve Jobs, master of customer service
  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:38PM (#33838952)

    This is speculation right now, where are the pictures of phones with scratched or broken glass?

    The damn phone has been out for months and Gawker, Powerpage or any of the Apple fanboy sites have no photos of this "issue".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      This is speculation right now, where are the pictures of phones with scratched or broken glass?

      The damn phone has been out for months and Gawker, Powerpage or any of the Apple fanboy sites have no photos of this "issue".

      Cognitive dissonance? They're just assuming they broke their own phones?

      That's what I would think - those things aren't exactly built for rough use.

    • by semiotec (948062) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:36PM (#33839726)

      http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/07/apple-afraid-of-a-shattering-followup-to-its-antennagate-woes/

      http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=iphone+4+shattered

      several of the top results are images of the same phones.

      • Um the engadget article is merely linking to the article in this posting. It's not an independent confirmation. From engadget's article:

        Of course, plenty of questions are raised by all this: is this a widespread problem with folks that have managed to acquire a slide-on case? We haven't really heard of such a correlation so far. Do the snap-on folks, many of whom received their cases free of charge from Apple, have anything to worry about? And does Apple have any intention of warning its consumers about this potential danger?

        So engadget has no answers either.

        • by semiotec (948062)
          Um I didn't actually read the article, I linked it for the picture. I only ever read them for the pictures and centerfolds.
  • by FrostDust (1009075) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:38PM (#33838954)

    Too bad the back of your phone has cosmetic damage. Maybe if you had some type of case on hand, you could cover it up and never worry about it again.

  • Legitimate concern (Score:5, Informative)

    by srussia (884021) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:39PM (#33838960)
    FTFS: "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."

    This happened to me (particulate matter getting caught between the rear of the phone and the case causing scratches). Have gone caseless since with no further scratching. In any case, replacing the back panel is trivial [ifixit.com].
    • Yeah I'll just spend $15 or whatever it is every 3 months to keep my phone working and looking alright. I mean, all other phones are that way, right? (hint: they are not)
      • by srussia (884021)

        Yeah I'll just spend $15 or whatever it is every 3 months to keep my phone working and looking alright. I mean, all other phones are that way, right? (hint: they are not)

        I've had no further scratches since ditching the case. In hindsight, I should have just gone caseless from the get-go. The phone has been working great (better reception than my original iPhone), still looks mahvelous.

    • Warranty? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Wouldn't doing it yourself violate the warranty?
      • by EkriirkE (1075937)

        Only if you make it obvious, such as by breaking seals (e.g. scored stickers) or using non-OEM parts. And apparently there are no seals.
        Fried of mine shattered his iphone digitizer glass that applecare would not cover without $$$, got the kit from ifixit to replace it and change it all himself. Later the new digitizer stopped working on one edge so he brought it back into applecare and they replaced the digitizer, no questions.

    • by mspohr (589790)
      I don't see why people buy cases for the iPhone. It makes them bulky an they don't protect the screen. ?
      • by cowscows (103644)

        I actually like the way my 3GS feels in my hand with the added thickness of the case. I don't think I have abnormally large hands, but without the case the phone feels just a little too small for me to hold it comfortably with one hand. Also the case that I chose provides better grip than the default plastic, so that's nice too.

        That being said, sand has gotten between the back of my phone and the case, and there are some very significant scratches on the phone. The 3GS back is plastic, so it's just a cosmet

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      In any case, replacing the back panel is trivial.

      I'd actually suggest removing the case first.

    • by semiotec (948062)

      Buying a new phone is even more trivial [apple.com], doesn't mean owners should expect to do so though.

      Although a couple Apple owners I know will probably be quite happy to have any reason to buy a new iPhone every few months.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:40PM (#33838992)
    An iCase will solve this problem (not to be confused with an iJob, iGates or an iSteve) NEVER accept a cheaper alternative.

    Read the scripture here:
    http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/guidelinesfor3rdparties.html [apple.com]
  • Are the iPhone backs made of glass too? (Description says "back".)
  • by RapmasterT (787426)
    this is the same whining that we had to hear when apple first brought out the black ipod and people realized black shows scratches more than the old white did.

    Stuff gets scratched when you use it, DEAL WITH IT.

    Grit can get trapped inside a case and scratch the device? NO SHIT? have these people never used a case before? Take it out and CLEAN IT every now and again.

    Are apple customers the most helpless people on the planet, or does the media just make them look that way?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kenja (541830)
      I did deal with it. I bought a snap on case for my Motorola Droid.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Mine is made using Gorilla Glass and has no scratches. Seeing a case on a droid is like seeing a task killer running on android 2.2.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "Oh I get it you made a funny because You don't have an iPhone!" - Fouad from Family Guy.

        I could live with a few scratches, I just wish I could have a WiFi connection on my Android phone for more than sixty seconds.

        • by semiotec (948062)

          "Oh I get it you made a funny because You don't have an iPhone!" - Fouad from Family Guy.

          I could live with a few scratches, I just wish I could have a WiFi connection on my Android phone for more than sixty seconds.

          That'd teach you not to buy secondhand crappy phones that's taken a swim in the toilet.

    • by c++0xFF (1758032)

      I 99% agree. The last 1%: the glass could end up fracturing because of the scratches, making this problem slightly more than cosmetic.

      That said, I don't see anything where such a thing has actually occurred, just that it might

    • by Intron (870560)

      OK, thanks for the head's up, Steve.

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      This isn't about scratching. The motion of pulling the device out of the case was causing the grit to crack the glass. Broken glass is far more serious a problem.

    • by catbutt (469582) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:27PM (#33839614)
      Some things are more scratch resistant than others. Apple customers have high expectations. Deal with it.
  • by mrnick (108356) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:53PM (#33839184) Homepage

    I thought making the back side glass was not overly bright in the first place. I'm not in the group that wants their phone to be all shiny and pretty so they can show it off anyway.

    I have not upgraded to the 4, still using the 3gs. Because of the front glass the iPhone requires a case. I have a rubber case that has tread on the back, like a tire. It helps it grip and keeps it from sliding.

    If you are the type of person that is going to buy a case that covers up the glass back of the iPhone are scratches on the back really going to bother you? If it cracks the back that could be an issue but how is Apple to blame for this? I would be upset with the people who made the case. It's their fault for the design flaw in their product. You won't see and Apple logo on any of these!

  • by dave562 (969951) on Friday October 08, 2010 @02:57PM (#33839254) Journal

    The title says it all.

  • by pedropolis (928836) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:01PM (#33839302)

    I've got an iPhone 4, with it's associated death grip(e) and continuing proximity sensor issue. It's worked OK to date, a bit slippery, and I love it's electro ice-cream sandwich design (even if it was made to be broken).

    That said, this thing seems so problematic that I can't help but think it's Apple's S-Type or X-Type Jaguar. The smart phone everyone will forever associate with problems. It's beautiful form that doesn't allow for any real-life durability.

    Kind of like a celebutante.

  • I don't subscribe to the Apple kool-aid, but in all fairness there are plenty of phones out there that just simply suck for design reasons. I'm on my fifth Palm Pre in one year (lucky I have insurance). One with slider problems, two the power button stopped working, and the last one the modem went to hell on it. Seems like these gadgets are not made to last long.
  • The seriousness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:26PM (#33839592)
    Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones...or particulates.

    Cracked or shattered glass on the back of the iPhone is a serious issue. Anyone who's been cut by glass can relate. Understanding that this hasn't happened yet, one could easily see why Apple is working to head this off. "Gushing blood caused by iPhone" isn't something Steve can explain away with "He was holding it wrong".
  • by sycorob (180615) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:36PM (#33839732)

    I admit, I have no data to back this up, just anecdotal observations, but does it seem like a fair number of people walk around with iPhones with cracked screens? I don't think I've ever seen people walking around with Droids and Blackberry's with shattered screens. When it's happened to people I know, they'll admit that they dropped it, but I drop my Droid at least once a week, and so far it's OK (knock on wood).

    I feel like the iPhone casing has gotten so minimal that there's not much to muffle the blow if you drop it on the edge - nothing left to give. I'll give Apple props for this though; even though the cracked screens look like crap, the phones still work, touch screen and all.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      Yea and I dropped my iphone a few times and the screen is still in perfect condition. Say what you want about the iphone it is still far superior to any android device not because of the hardware but the applications and performance while running them. Droid programming sucks balls because everything it runs is tied to a poorly performing register based jvm. Apple starts selling through Verizon and the droid devices are all but screwed. No I am not a apple fan boy I do linux for a living but google really s

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      but I drop my Droid at least once a week, and so far it's OK (knock on wood).

      I actually dropped my Droid face down on asphalt from about 4 feet up. I immediately feared the worse (made even more worse as that was also my GPS unit and I was currently out in the middle of nowhere). However, I picked it up and, although the metal case itself was chipped at the corners, everything else was working great.

      That was a pretty awesome experience.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      No protective cover of any sort and I just carry my iphone 4 in my front pocket. It's in as-new shape after 2 or so months. I also have coworkers with all kinds of other phones, and I've seen a few with shattered screens. I'd say your anecdote is just random chance.
    • by Graff (532189) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:45PM (#33840578)

      I've dropped my iPhone 4 a couple of times without problems, it's not anywhere near as fragile as people make it out to be. They hear glass and think it's the normal sodium glass they use for plate glass windows or cups. This is gorilla glass, much more scratch- and impact-resistant than sodium glass and it's even stronger than most polycarbonate plastics from which other phones are constructed.

      That being said, things break. I've seen tons of people with slider phones that don't slide right anymore, or have a keyboard with a stuck or missing key, or have a plastic face all scratched to hell and back. These are devices that get used in harsh environments and which are dropped, banged-up, slid across tables, soaked, spit on while talking, grimed over with dirty hands. At least the iPhone has very few moving parts to get gummed up, extra resistant to scratches, and they are easy to clean. Are they still going to break? Of course!

      If you want to be extra careful then throw on a bumper case and you take care of most of the issues since it makes it that much harder for the glass to touch anything and it makes for a softer landing if it does get dropped.

  • I think Apple have done this before, for instance with titanium cases (thin sections are rather prone to cracking) and the G4 cube with its tendency to stress cracking.Their problem is really quite simple. Once, Macs were better engineered than any other PCs: you could open them and see the well designed cabling, the clever internal ducting, and the properly engineered arrangement of boards, versus the thrown together stuff of many other manufacturers. But then CAD got cheap, and even cheap PCs became well

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