Skip to main content

Apple iPhone 4 back glass can be scratched?

iFixit claimed the front display on Apple's new iPhone 4 was protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass, but Engadget's review unit is already showing scratches on the back side. Was it an earlier test unit not up to release unit standards? Is the Gorilla Glass only on the front and not the back? Is Gorilla Glass not as scratch resistant as we thought? Is it not really Gorilla Glass at all?

Engadget did get a little rough with their iPhone 4 review unit, but no doubt so will users. And the front seems to be holding up fine.

Credit where it's due -- Georgia was worried about that glass Oreo design in general the moment she saw it. Apple's confident in their tech, especially if that rumor aboutremoving screen protectors from the Apple Store pans out. (The iMore Store will fully stock iPhone 4 versions of BodyGuardz and InvisibleSHIELD just as soon as possible -- no cheap plug intended, we just want our own screens defended!) And again, we don't know much yet. It's just the back, and just one review unit so far.

Let us know what you think.


Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • The iPhone 4 is being released tomorrow. Why would the review unit not be the final build? The front seems to be Gorilla Glass, while the back is not.
  • Why? F gorilla glass :(
  • Might get an invisibleShield skin for it if this turns out to be a big problem. Not too worried at the moment
    Given the placement of the scratches it wouldn't surprise me if this unit was handled by someone with a diamond ring at some point (with the diamond part facing in at the time) as no glass is impervious to something like that scratching it.
  • Fake.
  • No matter how careful we handle, it gets scratched eventually anyway? There is no way we can keep it without a single scratch - like new cars, you might be very careful for a month or two but you eventually realize it is impossible for anyone to keep them in a brand new condition... About screen protectors - if I put it, it will miss the whole point of having the retina display?
  • those are deeper scratches than i had on my 3gs , they really must have jabbed the thing.
  • wait, so, glass can be scratched?
    file under "obvious", move on.
  • I received my phone earlier this morning and I'm not taking the protective film off the back until my invisible shields arrive!
  • Here's a tip: The iPhone won't get scratch if you don't have butter finger hands. Howz that? If you don't know how to takecare your phone don't buy one. Period.
  • Zagg invisible shield
    Gadget guard
    This is how you prevent scratches on the hardware.
  • What's the purpose of the glass on the back?
  • @Jeff B. I would think you'd want the back surface to not interfere with any of the antennas so you'd want to use plastic, glass, ceramic or a similarly non-interfering material. In this case they went with glass. I think it went with their industrial look of the device.
  • I loved having a zagg on my 3G[S] the corners started to peel and it eventually turned into a sticky mess but when it was new it was awesome. Had it on the phone about 8 months. No scratches whatsoever. Since the back of the iPhone 4 is flat a zagg should last forever. I'm definitely getting one.
  • I ordered a Zagg InvisibleShield last week, hope it arrives by tomorrow!
  • Get phantom skinz. It's soooo much better that invisible shield since it's way clearer. they offer a matte material for the back and sides instead of clear, which is pretty sick if you ask me.
  • Actually, now that I think of it, I've always thought it was odd to have the plastic back because my Apple logo would get all scratched up just from being in my pocket (no screen protector). You'd think Steve wouldn't be happy about that.
    I actually liked the original metal back, but I understand why that isn't a great idea.
  • Newsflash, diamonds can scratch anything, including titanium. Pyrex dishes are hard to scratch from daily use, but give me a chisel and I can scratch it real nice and easy.
    When it comes to scratch tests, I want to know two things:
    1) What material scratched the glass
    2) how hard did that material hit the glass
    Advertising wise, Apple never said it was scratch proof, because nothing is scratch proof, but it's cleverly trying to imply that it is by using special glass. At the same time, believing that it's scratch proof is naive, and of course tech blogs are going to jump all over this as if it's some great revelation.
    It would be nice if there was a little more science behind the whole scratch thing. People are willing to blend iPads, shell out some money to buy an iPhone and put it to the test and find out what does and does not scratch it. But stop trying to play neener neener here as if it's some great breaking news story.
    For example, I've seen those InvisiShield kiosks play a video of someone keying a phone with their product, what happens if someone would just do the same for the iPhone 4 with no shield? Can you scratch it with a standard house key just trying to key it 20 or 30 times?
  • I had a iPad for two days and found several fine scratches on the screen - and I was pretty careful with it. I'm not sure if it has Gorilla Glass or not, but I immediately got a Ghost Armor screen saver and have been very happy with it.
  • I just have this one nightmarish vision as a phone dropper with the 4: getting out of my car, holding my keys, my wallet and my phone in one hand, suddenly my all glass phone breaks free from my secure grip and does a death spiral into the Tarmac. 4 sidetracked as always a
  • Sorry , my iphone decided to publish a little early. Anyway as my all-glass beauty hits the tarmac, I start to think that that $30 Apple Bumper was a good investment. But my hopes are dashed as the phone simply explodes into a million shards of glass and all I see on the pavement is a perfectly intact stainless steel rectangular ring with an Apple bumper on it. Please let it not happen
  • @Cuseguy: Now that's a scary thought!
  • Unfortunately you know someone will actually break both panels in a drop at some point and photos will be plastered here and elsewhere. As long as it's not me
  • Walt Mossberg, writing for All Things Digital, said "I dropped it several times from a few feet onto a hard surface with no problem, and it acquired no scratches at all in my testing, even though I didn’t use a case or coddle it."
    I generally find the guy to be very neutral in his reviews, so I think it's important to see what actually caused the scratches in the photo. With that said, a little Zagg never hurt anyone.
  • Well, I've had mine for two days and have babied it like you would not believe! This morning, I find there's a not-insignificant scratch right in the middle of the FRONT glass! I'm going to my Apple store today! I don't know what they can do, maybe give me a free case or something, but I'm pissed that it was this easy to scratch the FRONT screen!
  • Why the F..K do you expect not to get a scratch on a surface that is made of glass? I they'd invented unscratchable glass, they wouldn't be selling phones anymore! Only the glass itself all over the world! How yoz people are?!
  • My iPhone 4 was dropped about 6 inches a few days ago and it landed on the corner of the phone. 3 hours after and 1 day after the back glass has a hairline fracture in 2 places. One is about 3cm long and the other is about 3/4 of an inch long. I'm sure that glass will be replaceable somewhere. The front is fine.
  • gorilla glass my ass, my iphone 4 has a big ol scratch in the face just by putting something in my pocket...there are replacement glass fronts already on the market for it though.. bad news--it scratches...good news---you can fix it..other than that it rocks
  • I had mind less than 12 hours, was very careful with it, and noticed two large scratches on the back already.
  • Received my I-Phone on Friday, the next day, I put the phone in my pocket, sat down and the phone slid out of my pocket and fell out onto the floor and the back panel shattered...No internal damage, phone still works but I cut my hand picking it back up due to the panel being made of glass....As soon as an option becomes available to replace the glass panel with anything else, I will do it. Wonder how many others will break the glass in the months to follow.
  • why gorilla glass and not sapphire as Vertu did?!
  • Mine has a couple of very thin scratches on the back, and a very small one on the front. They dont show up in natural light, only at night, in specific light and angles. I'll probably sell mine off for a white iphone when they come out, pretty sure i wont see scratches on that!
  • Yeah I'm going to install invisibleshield and put the iPhone 4 bumper on it aswell, that should protect it pretty well.
  • So disappointed. I had my iphone in griffin wallet case, thought it was safe. Without dropping it at all, a month later I already have a scratch on my camera lens. Its been in the case since day one. This weekend, I was in walgreens and had my phone in my hand, got distracted by my kid asking me to buy him a toy for the fiftieth time, only to have the iphone 4 slide OUT of the stupid griffin wallet case and fall on its back. I ended up with scratches on the back, which pisses me off. Today I get home and my bodyguardz had come in the mail, if only it had come sooner! I have never had a phone so prone to scratches as the iphone, I wish they did something to make it more resistant
  • i've had mine for a little over a week. i havent dropped it once. no case or anything either. yet i've noticed a lot of scratches on the back and i have no clue how they got there. i dont carry any keys in my pocket or purse with it so idk how it got scratched. :(
  • used mine for a week without anything..
    literally nothing.. i even took off the film they gave with it..
    not one sratch neither on front or back..
    absoultely perfect!
    not gonna be to cocky.. i've now got a cheap screen protector for front and back on it..
    which i got for 0.75c AUD lol even if i take that off, my phone still looks perfect like it just came out of the box!
  • yes it can :P and very hard scratched
  • Nothing is scratch proof and I do not believe Apple will ever make the iPhone scratch proof.
  • My iPhone 4 back glass is just been stratched!!!Oh gosh!!!!
  • Never was a fan of Tilton or, for that matter, any preacher whose main theme is to beg for money. It's like all those tarot card readers and fortune tellers. If they're so damn good at it, then how come they're all broke?