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Bloggers swallow iPhone 4 screen weakness claim

Display damage data not as transparent as they seem

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In fact, you can argue that because the iPhone 4 claims haven't demonstrated a 100 per cent increase in broken-glass claims despite the presence of a second glass panel - a 100 per cent increase in the handset's glass area - that the aluminosilicate in the iPhone 4 is actually more resilient than the screen in the 3GS.

Looking at SquareTrade's numbers for overall failure rates, we find that the company admits that "fewer than 0.5 per cent of iPhone 4 owners reported a non-accident claim, roughly the same as the iPhone 3GS". That's a rate, SquareTrade says, is "much lower than most other consumer electronics". Since some folk will inevitable try and hide accidental damage as inherent hardware failure, the figure is probably lower still.

Those are our italics in the quote above, because they highlight that the iPhone 4 is not, of itself, any more likely to fail than its predecessor.

The difference between the two is purely down to accidental damage, and since we have no way of determining how casually the claimants tossed their new handsets around - or not - it's impossible to justifiably claim - as some reporters appear to be doing - that the iPhone 4 is somehow less reliable than the iPhone 3GS.

No. Fail to take good care of it and, yes, one or both of its glass panels is more likely to break than the one on the 3GS was. But look after your iPhone 4 and it's no more likely to break than its predecessor.

That doesn't get Apple entirely off the hook. The iPhone 4, with a glass back as well a glass front, has a lower coefficient of friction than its predecessor. No matter what handset you own, you'll invariably place it face up when you put it down on, say, a sofa arm. It takes a lot less force to send a 4 sliding off than it does a 3GS unless you keep it in a case. This reporter knows this for a fact, from his experience of both handsets.

Apple's two-glass design for the iPhone 4 does make accidents more likely, but nothing which more careful ownership can't accomodate without changing how you hold or place the handset. ®

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