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Antennagate 2?

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We're not sure how seriously to take claims that some third-party iPhone 4 cases can cause the handset's rear glass panel to shatter.

To be fair, no one appears to have suggested that this has actually happened. But it is alleged by Gdgt.com that Apple engineers are busy investigating this potential problem, implying that the company is sufficiently worried that broken phones - and, by extension, a broken reputation - are a possibility.

Here's the problem, we're told. Slide-on cases can allow dust and grit to become wedged between case and glass. Said particles then exert pressure on the panel, potentially causing a scratch, or maybe even to crack and then shatter.

It has been said that Apple pulled third-party cases out of its retail stores to avoid this.

Except that the cases are now back on sale, Gdgt.com admits. So Apple can't be too worried about the problem. More to the point, while cases allegedly were being yanked from Apple shops, the company was perfectly happy to mail out third-party cases to punters participating in its antennagate case giveaway. In addition to its own Bumper wraparound, Apple offered a good selection of third-party alternatives.

I know, I've got one. It's an Incase Snap. It clips onto the back of the handset, and being transparent you can see any dust and such. There are some specks in there now, and I know from past iPhone cases that there will be with any such covers.

Surely a more likely reason for the absence of cases in Apple stores has been the only-just-completed giveaway? The freebies stopped coming on 30 September and - guess what - cases are now back in the stores being sold over the counter.

Then there's the fact that Apple claims the "aluminosilicate" glass used on the iPhone 4's front and back is "chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 itmes harder than plastic" and is "more scratch resistant than ever".

Even allowing Apple hyperbole, that doesn't sound like the kind of material to crack or shatter because someone got some crud in their case. ®

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