"Glassgate": Another iPhone design flaw?

Faith Merino · October 8, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/127c

An analysis of the design flaw and an appeal to stop adding the word "gate" to everything

A potential new design flaw in the iPhone 4 has a lot of people all a-flutter.  The problem?  The glass backing.  GDGT reported Thursday that unnamed sources (I will seriously [seriously] buy a drink for the first person in the Vator network who creates a PR group called “Unnamed Sources”) close to Apple have said that the company is in a quiet panic over the glass backing, which is easily scratched by non-bumper style slide-on iPhone cases. 

Basically, according to the report, debris is getting caught between the case and the iPhone glass, which is causing scratching and even fracturing.  It makes sense.  Often times I look upon my iPhone and imagine the Apple iPhone designers asking themselves, “How can we make this really expensive item as fragile and delicate as humanly possible?  Let’s make the whole thing out of glass.”  My prediction: the next generation iPhone will be made entirely out of paper and water-soluble glue.  As soon as your hand gets sweaty, it will dissolve into a mush of sparking pulp.

The aluminosilicate glass is described on Apple’s website as “the same type of glass used in the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains.  Chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times stronger than plastic, the glass is ultradurable and more scratch resistant than ever.”  But apparently, glass is still glass, and when Apple became aware of the problem, the company immediately moved to block all sales of third-party iPhone cases from its stores, said GDGT.

But I have a bigger beef with this report.  Can we please stop adding the word “gate” to everything that we want to make into a big deal?  "Antennagate," "Angelgate," and now "Glassgate," which just sounds silly...  What does that even mean?  Yes, I get the Watergate reference…but still… It’s not a conspiracy!  It’s glass!  It breaks!


The most recent “gate” scandal at Apple was the widely talked about Antennagate, which was actually based on a legitimate root problem, and saw some creepy cover-up action on the part of Apple.  Reports of dropped calls and poor service began plaguing the iPhone 4 immediately after its release, and in June, Consumer Reports said that it could not recommend the iPhone 4 because of the frequency of dropped calls when held in a certain way.   

Despite the complaints, Apple refused to do a recall, saying that the data they had collected did not warrant such action.  Instead, they offered a free rubber case to every user and a full refund within 30 days of purchase.  Apple even held a special press conference, where Steve Jobs insisted that all phones have weak spots and the iPhone 4 has seen no more complaints than other smartphones.

While I think the issue is not as critical as some are trying to make it sound (certainly not enough to warrant adding the word “gate” to the problem), I will admit that it would be highly inconvenient.  Regardless of whether or not your iPhone is insured, if you drop it and the glass breaks, you face having to fork over $200 for repairs.  It’s debatable as to whether or not Apple would be able to get away with that with their own cases.  Says GDGT: “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.”

I am curious to hear if anyone else has had this problem (I question whether a bit of dust would really “shatter” the glass backing).  I haven’t heard of it until now, so if you have experienced this, please leave a comment describing what happened.

Image source: pxlshots.com

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