The iPhone Display: Another Accident Waiting to Happen

Posted by Jesse Herman

If you thought the recent problems with the iPhone antennae were a bid deal, you might want to think again. The display leaves a lot to be desired.

The iPhone 4 glass has taken some abuse after they openly bragged, before release, about how the glass underwent significant advances. Currently their iPhone page reads, " Made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains, the Retina display glass is chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever. The glass also features an oil-resistant coating that helps keep the screen clean."

Based on the various drop tests performed, please remind me to stay off of the above mentioned helicopters and high speed trains. While I am not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, something in me says that these phones can be made to be thinner, sleeker and more durable. The most durable of cell phones were the dumb ones. The way smartphones are now, they are used much more yet are too high maintenance.

In the 1950's car companies started to wake up to the fact that safety was a big issue. By the 1960's cars were beginning to absorb sudden impacts better and seatbelts were being made and used more effectively. In other words, just because you drop a carton of eggs does not mean every egg has to break. Just because I grind my teeth every night, it does not result in a rapid loss of teeth. And just because you drop a smartphone, does not mean is has to shatter. By looking at the egg example, it is easy to see how the shapes of the cars interiors began to take form. Eventually the airbag was implemented and car safety it can be said had officically come a long way.

There is no reason why iPhones, Androids and whatever else can't be made the same way. Instead of and LCD display sitting behind the glass, imagine it is a miniature egg. How can this phone fall without the egg breaking? This seem like a dumb analogy, eh? Thanks, I'm good at that but it's not so dumb when you consider the recent iPhone 3G screen test with a protective rubber case. This test shows that with the older model iPhone 3G, the case succeeds (after five attempts) in protecting the glass from shattering. As noted in the test, though, the LCD died. First part good, second part bad. Given the fact that a 3G or 3GS LCD display replacement can be a more costly affair than a simple glass replacement--this can really suck. Essentially, the car (the phone) with the bumper can suffer very little damage. But inside the car, the egg (your head, LCD, whatever) is still breaking. It's not the made-in-china accessory's fault, it's the made-in-China iPhone that is the culprit. The 'insides' simply can't absorb a blow.

You can argue that no glass is meant to withstand multiple falls on concrete. You can argue that people who drop iPhones are careless and don't appreciate their toys enough. But you can't say that 5 straight 4 foot falls, still inside the egg carton, should be enough to a very expensive egg.

A typical iPhone costs over $500. That's a pretty big price tag, and almost everyone gets a discount but based on paying a premium on calling plans and data rates over two years. It all adds up to an investment of a few thousand dollars. You should get more for your money or a better deal on repairs. Either way, Apple is partly to blame because it has raised expectations for its products, expectations that it is failing to meet.