Gdgt: After Antennagate, Glassgate (Cracking Back Glass) Could be The Next Big iPhone 4 Issue

Submitted by lalit on October 10, 2010 - 9:19pm.

Ryan Block of gdgt is reporting that Apple engineering team has discovered another design flaw in the new iPhone 4 and is working hard for preemptive damage control. Dust particle could get stuck in the slide on iPhone 4 cases and cause unexpected scratching on the glass surface leading to full-on cracking. Ryan wrote in GDGT newsletter:

According to my sources both inside and outside Apple, after Antennagate the iPhone engineering team identified another potential design flaw that appears to have sent them into a quiet lockdown, and has them working behind the scenes in what's been described to me as something of a quiet panic to preempt any further tarnishing the iPhone brand. 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.

So before things escalated out of control and they had "Glassgate" on their hands, Apple swiftly moved to block sales of nearly all third-party iPhone 4 cases from its stores (which it just this week reversed, but only online -- physical retail stores still aren't yet stocking cases). Internally, I've heard the iPhone team has grown to be very concerned by this issue with slide-on cases, and has created a lab and large new test program specifically to investigate this further. (If the bumper seemed like kind of an odd concept for a case when it was announced, now its design, which doesn't come in direct medial contact with either of the iPhone 4's glass surfaces, seems to make a lot more sense.)

Apple surely can't ignore any iPhone 4s cracked -- with a certain dash of irony -- by those users going out of their way to protect their phone from undue damage, but whether they will (or can) find a resolution to what the what the company is treating as another design flaw is yet to be seen. Either way, something tells me there's a pretty good chance next year's iPhone probably won't have any glass on its back.

We weren’t able to find any information backing Ryan’s claim through our sources. However, one of the sources suggested that this problem could be solved by using Invisible Shield or other protective film before putting iPhone in a slide on cover. The Invisible Shield would protect iPhone back from scratches. But, the main question is, should the consumer do all this to protect a device that shouldn’t in first place need a cover for normal day-to-day use.