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‘Glassgate’ Issue to Hit iPhone 4


‘Glassgate’ Issue to Hit iPhone 4

We’ve had ‘Antenngate’, and ‘MissingwhiteiPhonegate’ (no that doesn’t work) – but now Apple is facing another iPhone 4 related drama - ‘Glassgate’. While the iPhone 4 is undoubtedly a highly successful product for Apple, at the same time it seems to be afflicted with more than its fair share of issues.

Tech site GDGT claims that Apple is aware of an issue with third-party cases scratching the glass rear of the iPhone 4 – scratches that lead to fully fledged cracks. In response, Apple has blocked sales of all slide on cases until the matter can be resolved.

The issue is specifically with cases that slide onto the iPhone, rather than bumper style cases, as the former sometimes can cause matter to become trapped between the case and the rear of the phone, leading to the scratches. The issue was uncovered by GDGT’s Ryan Block, who claims to have sources in and outside of Apple confirming that Apple is aware of the issue – but no official statement has been forthcoming.

While the iPhone 4 is praised for its aesthetics, building the antenna into the metal exterior and this making it vulnerable to signal attenuation has been widely criticised – and now Apple could find itself in the firing line for choosing to cover both the front and the back of the iPhone 4 in glass.


October 11, 2010, 7:54 pm

Simple - just use the type of glass that's on the front (that doesn't scratch) on the back too.


October 11, 2010, 8:00 pm

forget 3rd party cases - i've had the Bumper case since day one.

took it off the other week - only to find the steel band scratched in many places

upon closer inspection the front 'gorilla glass' screen also has many micro scratches

the back glass is suprisingly ok...

Stewart Clark

October 11, 2010, 8:26 pm

I use a split case and used one on my iPhone 3g and no scratches front or back. The one thing I hate is the amount of grease and smears the phone collects so I wipe it over with a damp cloth. I have seen some phones that seem never to have been cleaned so I can understand how these will collect grit and scratch. The fit of these case is very snug, so snug that you cannot fit the supplied screen protector, so I assume that those with a scratched screen were too lazy to clean the phone first.


October 11, 2010, 8:55 pm

Must be a slow day in the office... for this to count as news.

Has anybody owned a mobile device that doesn't pick up *some* wear and tear over time - even with careful use?

I'm a careful guy but a gaggle of corporate Nokias, PDAs (Palm/HTC), Laptops (IBM/Dell/Lenovo/Acer) and a couple of iPhones tell me that no device is completely impervious to scuffs and scrapes. But my experiences with iPhones (3G and 4) suggest they are more resilient than most of the tech I've owned.

Matthew White

October 11, 2010, 9:22 pm

Umm the UK apple store has snap on / slide on cases for sale , now im no Apple fan boy but that part of teh story doesnt ring true currently.


October 11, 2010, 10:06 pm

Blimey... if Apple are being picked up on the durability of their materials, practically every other manufacturer should be shot at dawn!

In an attempt to put a constructive spin on this 'news'... I can vouch for a case called 'The Edge' from Gear4. This case avoids slide-over scratches whilst protecting the sides and back of the phone - and maintains the slim form-factor of the iPhone4.

Been using one of these cases for weeks (there were few other choices at the time) and do not yet have a single mark on my handset.


October 11, 2010, 10:31 pm

I'm far from Apple's biggest fan, but... seriously?

What next? Hammergate, in which it turns out the iPhone doesn't respond well to being hit with a large mallet? Firegate, where users complain that the iPhone doesn't work after being subjected to 1000 degrees? Obviously if it's made of glass it will get scratched. Competing handsets instead use plastic - but this too can get scratched. I think Apple have a lot to answer for, but even I wouldn't hold them responsible for a third party's accessories causing cosmetic wear and tear...


October 11, 2010, 10:58 pm

@ Stewart Clark

Try this product http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brasso...


October 11, 2010, 11:17 pm

@ Coffee : Have you seen the pictures - we aren't talking about a sctrach here and there but proper cracks though the glass as if it had been dropped. Personlly I use a full body protector (screen protector style all over) and then have a case around that.


October 11, 2010, 11:22 pm

Umm, you guys (as in TrustedReview) do know that Ryan is on record as saying he didn't mean that there was a widespread issue and that his sources indicated Apple were working to ensure it didn't become one right? Of course WHY he'd be surprised that this got reported as an issue (rather than possible pre-emptive behind the scenes work) considering the alarmist wording he used in his original post and his long history in the gadget world is another issue all together.

In addition this line: "In response, Apple has blocked sales of all slide on cases until the matter can be resolved." isn't accurate in any way. There are no slide on cases in the Apple store but, frankly, there's been no cases at all as Apple didn't want to give the impression that you had to buy one while the free case program was ongoing, something that is briefly mentioned in the GDGT article but dismissed in favour of this theory (and from that point on Apple not stocking cases is treated as proof of, ug, 'glassgate'). They also haven't blocked sales of these cases, just that they're not selling them in their own store. Oh, and the article claims they are aware of a potential issue, by missing out the word potential you significantly change the tone of the claims.

Please note, not defending Apple here, if there's a genuine issue they need to resolve it, but the GDGT article was published four days ago and the story has moved on a bit since then. More importantly what's reported here as fact simply isn't true.


October 11, 2010, 11:29 pm

Recycling this 'news' does TR no favours at all. Even the original author (whom you didn't note has something of an axe to grind against Apple) has weakened the conclusions of his original story: http://gdgt.com/discuss/follow...


October 12, 2010, 12:00 am

Let us not forget that Ryan Block is the same 'journalist' who reported a rumour three years ago that the original iPhone was delayed from June to October based on a hoax e-mail. A simple phone call would have verified the story was rubbish but instead he published it on Engadget and, as a result, was at least partially responsible for a 2.2% drop in Apple's share price in a very short space of time (less than ten minutes I think it was).

Why on earth the tech press are giving this the time of day (and reporting the details of what is blatant click-bait incorrectly at that) I have no idea.


October 12, 2010, 12:23 am

For those wondering why this is a serious issue, it's quite obviously not the aesthetics of the scratches but rather "scratches that lead to fully fledged cracks" that the news piece is about. You can see the original posts here http://gdgt.com/discuss/with-a... and here http://gdgt.com/discuss/follow...


October 12, 2010, 5:12 am

My favourite 'gate', from The Thick of It, is still NottingHillGateGate. Though unless Apple's next cutesy TV spot for iPhone 5 has a distinct absence of ethnic minorities, they'll probably avoid that one.

Greg Shewan

October 12, 2010, 11:07 am

Could have guessed this would happen, glass as a back cover is a bad idea. What is aesthetically pleasing is not always the best solution, so who do you think rules the roost at Apple? Engineers or Designers? I'm inclined to think the later.



October 12, 2010, 12:49 pm

@dev - this whole thing stinks of sub-tabloid sensationalism... hopefully anyone with half a brain has checked out the survey questions in your second link. Talk about skewing results.

Rather like determining the health of TR readers as such...

A) Proportion that have had a cold, flu virus, or a serious life threatening sexually transmitted disease.

B) Those who have experienced stomach pains, headache or leprosy.

C) Those who have never experienced any form of illness.

Dubious journalism all round. Shame on you Engadget & TR for pushing this as real news.

What next? 'Windscreengate' or 'Stonechipgate' on a model of car that it's become fashionable to lay into?

Tabloidesque tactics might bag you some clicks - but they can cheapen your brand.


October 12, 2010, 1:18 pm

It seems some of you are unaware of what sensationalist journalism actually is. We've done nothing more than present a condensed version of the facts. How you choose to interpret those facts is entirely up to you.

As to Ryan Block having somehow gone back on his original post, yes he makes a point of saying he was surprised at some of the coverage alluding to this already being a big issue. However, he then goes on to cite a survey on Cult Of Mac where 69 percent of users say they have had issues with trapped dirt scratch or cracking their iPhones, so maybe it could be a more widespread issue than first thought.

Obviously all such devices get scratched over time, and certainly the iPhone is one of the more rugged, but it is just as true that there could be thousands of people out there that end up with prematurely cracked or severely scratched iPhones simply due to the type of case they're using. Thus making people aware of this issue is surely a positive thing?


October 12, 2010, 6:10 pm

Ed, sure. But that Cult of Mac survey question is pretty flawed too. It's like surveying the public asking "Have you ever scratched or crashed your car" and then assuming most responses have crashed rather than scratched their cars.

I would be a lot less sceptical if more than one instance of cracking was cited. It's fine to raise awareness but what's the issue there? That stuff might break? It just seems like such a vapid story.

I don't own an iPhone 4 btw.


October 12, 2010, 8:16 pm

@Ed - I'm with Oliver and KultiVator - not sure what 'facts' can be pulled from that steaming turkey of a survey over at CultOfMac!

I feel quite 'dirty' for rising to the bait.


October 12, 2010, 11:25 pm

OliverM: I know I'm wearily flogging the dry skeleton of a dead horse here, but here goes... the line "Cult of Mac" is telling. With any other device, be it plastic or metal, the notion that a third-party cover could damage the phone (for example by poor fit, rough finish, abrasive material or trapped dirt) would be common sense. But stick "i" in front and people suddenly expect glass to magically become impervious to scratches (presumably they have never worn specs or owned a camera). I have some sympathy for Apple, since they've apparently become TOO good at marketing. Here's a suggestion for their next ad campaign: "The new iPhone. It's bloody good, but it's not the Second Coming and it can't defy the laws of science."

Arctic Fox

October 13, 2010, 7:25 am


"But stick "i" in front and people suddenly expect glass to magically become impervious to scratches (presumably they have never worn specs or owned a camera). I have some sympathy for Apple, since they've apparently become TOO good at marketing."

I have to admit that my sympathy for Apple with regard to their "magical marketing" is somewhat limited. Their marketing strategy (very effective and shifts a lot of units) has the effect of creating expectations that cannot rationally be fully met. Hence my limited sympathy, they have to a considerable extent been "hoist upon their own petard".


October 13, 2010, 4:06 pm

Here's an interesting report:



October 13, 2010, 9:04 pm

Arctic: I agree, but almost every company creates unrealistic expectations for their products. Lynx claim their deodorant will make you irresistible to the opposite sex, but if your advances are met with a slap then you wouldn't blame the company. Apple may be a victim of their own success, but I also Blame The Meeja(tm) who have been their willing accomplices in hyping the brand beyond all reason - for example the Murdock empire has been desperately plugging the iPhone and iPad because they want us all running headfirst into their paywall...

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