Report: iPhone 4 least likely to malfunction, most likely to shatter

Broken iPhone 4

In a report by SquareTrade, a company that sells extended warranties for many mobile devices, Apple's iPhone 4 was found to be the device least likely to have electronic malfunctions. However, it also had the highest likelihood of breaking when dropped. From TechCrunch:

The year long study looked at 50,000 warranty replacements. The iPhone 4 had the fewest malfunctions not due to accidental damage while Motorola and HTC Android phones tied for second. As for breakage, the iPhone 4 is king of the heap with 9.4%

Not related to the possible Glassgate situation, this news is still rather off-putting in a world where the iPhone 4 is one of the greatest designed phones around -- but that design includes glass on both sides.

Does this concern any of you iPhone 4 users? Sound off in the comments!

[SquareTrade via TechCrunch]

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Report: iPhone 4 least likely to malfunction, most likely to shatter

31 Comments

Note what this report states: ONLY 9.4% of iPhone 4 warranty REPLACEMENTS with this company are because of broken glass. The percentage is not of ALL iPhone 4s, just those that needed replacement, which is probably a very tiny percentage of the total iPhone 4s sold.

Buying a phone made almost entirely of glass, refusing to protect it, and breaking it via dropsies = No sympathy from me..
That article in my opinion deserves a "thank you captain obvious" remark.

Actually, Ryszard, that's not what it says. It's the percentage of phones warranted by SquareTrade that had a general malfunction, water damage, or drop damage. And at that, the "accident rate" (the rate at which devices are dropped or wet) is NOT the same thing as the rate at which devices are damaged. Squaretrade says that 11.1% of iPhone 4 owners will experience drop-related damage in a year, compared to 6% of 3GS owners.
Now, where the problem is is that they have made no attempt to correct for the fact that people who buy SquareTrade warranties - which specifically DO cover accidental damage - are perhaps more likely to NOT further protect their device with covers or even gentle handling. After all, they may well reason that they're covered by their extended warranty. I'm not convinced that it's reasonable to extrapolate the accident rate for Squaretrade purchasers to people who haven't bought an extended warranty.

@Phxblue- Exactly! You take a layer of electronics and put it between two layers of glass and wtf do you expect? Duh.

Ben, the report specifically says:
Given that Android phones really started gaining traction in 2010, we have 8 months of solid data for Motorola and HTC, and 4 months of data for the iPhone 4, which launched in June of this year. Using this data, we predicted the 12 month failure rates using the failure curve for other phone models.

I mean, if you don't put a case on your iPhone 4, you're dumb. That's what Otterbox is for. My red Otterbox Defeder has saved my phone more than once.
Really, it doesn't even have to be an Otterbox or bulky protective case. Any case (on any phone, for that matter) is better than none at all.

"SquareTrade, a company that sells extended warranties"
Taking their report seriously is something akin to taking advice on your vacuum cleaner from a door to door salesman. Square Trade makes its coin by convincing people they need an extended warranty to protect against exactly this kind of damage. Hardly likely they will report the models aren't more prone to damage.

Greatest designed phones??? Are we talking about specs or appearance??? If it's appearance, what good is it if you have to put a case on to protect it???

All I have to say is look at the source, they sell warranty for phones. If you think the phone is more likely to break you'll be more likely to buy warranty for it. Buy a case problem solved.

It's important to use a soft case or a hard one with cushioning on the inside. I've only had one iPhone break in my family and it was a 3G with a hard case. I've dropped my phones with soft cases tons of times with no breakage.

Sorry but the greatest designed phone doesn't shatter when you sneeze on it or lose reception when you hold it. The only reason the ifail 4 sells is because of Jobs' reality distortion field. Jobs could poop on a plate, call it wonderful and millions of ilemmings would proclaim it the greatest thing ever.

I've dropped my 4 a handful of times and there is not a nick on it. I've had a countless number of cellphones over the last decade or so and they've all taken a fall. No phone no matter the brand is going to fair well smashing the sidewalk.

@DH: "It’s the percentage of phones warranted by SquareTrade that had a general malfunction..." If this is correct, then the study is even more meaningless, as they never report what percentage of their warranted total each phone represents.

Hey gquaglia, have you ever even used an iPhone 4? Because if you did nobody would need to tell you the thing is "Magic" because you would already know

I want to take my bumper off because I love the design, but fear prevents me from doing so. Right now I have a bumper and ghost armor on it, Ive dropped it tons of times with no problem. I still love the phone, I just wish that I could pull the bumper and enjoy the design.

@E-Man: The study also says the iPhone 4 is the most reliable ("The iPhone 4 was the most reliable phone, with 2.1% projected to have a non-accident malfunction ... Motorola and HTC, were also very reliable, with just 2.3% and 3.7%."), so it's not just appearance.

I guess they didn't include the proximity sensor in this study. Everybody at work, including myself, are still suffering from this issue. Even after a virgin install of 4.1 too.
Looks like a trip to the genius bar for me. Hopefully their legendary customer support lives up to the hype.

CJ, I am on my fifth iPhone 4 and finally have a working proximity sensor. I waiting until 4.1 before going to Genius Bar and thought that if it were do to early hardware I would be fine. But instead I had replacements that did not ring, vibrate and had much worse proximity sensor issues. It was frustrating to continue to replace but glad I did. My current phone works just as well as my previous 3GS with regards to proximity sensor.
But, the study says that the iPhone 4 is least likely to malfunction not due to accidental damage. I disagree. I had 4 phones that should not have passed QA. Was I very unlucky or does Apple have a QA issue?

@DH:
I don't think you can sell the argument that people who buy a warranty are less careful than people who don't.
If anything buying a warranty speaks to being MORE careful.
Its not like you can get a AD warranty from AT&T or Apple.
You are using this argument to denigrate the data, because the data "seems" to suggest a problem with a device you hold dear. Recognize that tendency in yourself, and learn to work past it.

It does not bother me. The old iPhone had a glass screen. If I dropped it the screen would shatter. When the new iPhone is dropped, its screen would shatter. And although technically the old iPhone could have landed on its back case, it seemed to always fall face forward.

Im always skeptical of studies like this. A study conducted about hardware failures of iPhones done by a company that sells iPhone insurance. "Do you want mine subsidence insurance? Your city has all kinds of mines below it and they could cave at any moment."

I'm responding to this article as a pissed off iPhone consumer. I purchased the 3G, 3GS, and now 4. I didnt' have a single problem with the glass breaking, or cracking on my previous phones, but on the first day I purchased my iPhone 4, it slid off my table and cracked the bottom corner of the glass... THROUGH the case. I thought this was supposed to be revolutionary gorilla glass, or something of the sort. But now I have to keep this cracked phone, because Apple Care does not cover cracked screens. My iPhone 4 is still this shiznit, but WTF

I broke my first iphone4 second week i had it. Had my 3g for 2 years and dropped it many times with no damn issue! Good thing I went to the tenuous bar and made a scene about the four not being a good phone and that's when I was offered an exchange!. Lol

It's not hard to keep from breaking the phone if you're even remotely careful with it. I have never damaged a phone and I have had a lot of phones. It's simple: Don't throw it on the ground. Pretend that you have a $600 device in your hand.