back to article 'External force' fractured French iPhones, says Apple

Apple has claimed that all of the iPhones it has examined which allegedly underwent sudden screen shatter did so because of pressure applied to the outside of the handset. "The iPhones with broken glass that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone …

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WTF?

External Force!

Hmmm. I wonder if this is the same 'external force' as that reported in the Dyatlov Pass incident?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm With Apple

Have to say, I wonder if some folks are simply jumping on the bandwagon.

I dropped my iPhone 3G (non S) from about 2 feet, whilst in a Belkin case (which protected front, back and sides of phone, with just the top 2 corners peeking out), landing on the exposed corner of the phone and the glass screen cover exploded as if I'd thrown it against a wall. This would suggest that any impact, on the glass or not, may shatter the screen.

It could be that one or two phones have failed in some random manner, prompting genuine investigations, but I bet many more of these are simply from people who buggered their phones and thought they'd try for a replacement.

Just my tuppence.

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WTF?

Does make me laugh...

...how much of a big deal is being made of this. Tens of millions of iPhones sold, a few having marginally physical failures, and it's front-page news. Plenty of other phone manufacturers have higher rates of failure, but nobody cares.

Oh, and I'm not a fanboy, I own an Android device and haven't ever bought anything by Apple.

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Jobs Horns

Broken display a feature

I have seen plenty of iPhones with broken glass displays in use by people whenever I use the Tube. Even one of my friend has a iPhone wih broken display. Seems like a pretty normal feature to me.

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Coat

Hearing about these claims...

Kinda makes you feel all glassy eyed!

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Joke

re: single digits

I can't help wondering if Apple are using a numbering system that allows them to represent a million as a single digit

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Alert

Not in Rapex Yet

The BEEB also says France alerted the EU using Rapex, but there's nothing there yet. Updates each Friday apparently

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_en.cfm

Lots of apples, toy apples, etc. Phone chargers and toy phones. No iphone.

We are an Android G1 and iphone 3gs household. Both phones can do the same things, conceptually and technically. But doing them on the 3gs is so much more enjoyable. Guess which phone is mine :-(

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Law
Terminator

I'm not worried but...

... maybe Apple should have pulled some independant investigators into this, as I really don't trust Apple to publicly comment on any issues, unless it involves user error.

I was more concerned about the magsafe adapter on my macbook pro when I first bought it, I wouldn't ever leave it plugged in unattended... but stories of these fraying and setting fires are few and far between... and mine is as solid as the day I got it so I've lost that fear now. Still... I wouldn't pop the laptop under the sofa with the adapter half-off! :)

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FAIL

Typical crApple using low quality, cheap glass

Typical for Apple to use the cheapest, weakest, lowest quality glass. I'm sure it would've only cost them a few $ more to manufacture/buy/use stronger glass but not SO much more that it affected the retail price of the device much (if at all)...

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@I'm With Apple

Agreed that it's a good bet a fair few of these reports are probably just people aiming for a free replacement, however whether these screens are shattering spontaneously or not still suggests to me a pretty severe weakness in the product.

From your own tale of dropping your phone from 2 feet and having the glass cover exploding away from the phone, that really suggests to me the phone is unacceptably weak or the screen is stressed very badly for such a slight knock to shatter it. A 2 foot drop would barely even be noticed by almost any other phone, let alone its' screen shattering completely, and this is especially bad when the entire purpose of the glass layer is to protect the screen underneath it (from shocks as well as scratches).

Of interest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqB4UdpUoGM

As the above shows, a certain well-known manufacturer that does properly test its phones requires that they be able to survive a 5 foot drop onto concrete.

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Bronze badge

Sounds dubious

So out of a dozen or fewer cases two separate incidents lead to eye injury. This strikes me as suspicious straight away. How often have you broken something made of glass? How often have you had an eye injury as a result. Two out of twelve is either spectacularly unlucky or people are on the make looking for compo claims.

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Flame

Would this be...

Would this external force be the same force that crumples a plastic bottle when all of the oxygen is removed through combustion?

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Happy

Some peeps did report lots of heat

after the last upgrade. Plus phone running out of battery really quickly. Then being ok after a restart.

So yeah. Maybe these folk had a fully charged phone?

I've dropped my phone a few times and not had problems, tempting fate there.

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Pint

Not all glass created equal?

The question here may be: Did Apple choose an incorrect glass formulation for a product designed to be placed in close proximity to a person's face?

I'm not an engineer, but I know there are different types of glass; pyrex (disintegrates violently when tapped in the wrong place at the wrong time), "tempered" (designed to take the odd knock), and the old fave "safety", where a glass sandwich is made with plastic in the middle to prevent flying shards when your head hits the inside of the windshield because you can't be bothered by either seatbelts or stop signs.

So what kind of glass has Apple used? Window glass? Recycled pub Guiness pint glass?

Gee, that last thought made me thirsty...

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Silver badge

@AC

So what you're saying is that iPhones are very fragile and not suitable as mobile phones, since these are dropped regularly by people, and generally don't shatter and cause injuries.

Hmm.

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Hmmm... Now I know the problem.

<<Almost a dozen cases of disintegrating iPhone displays have been reported this month, all in France>>

(Apple) "the number of reports we are investigating is in the single digits"

Apple must be using hexadecimal*.

Imperial, or metric? Thank fuc*k Apple aren't gonna put a bloke in orbit. Well, wouldn't mind if that arrogant twa*t Jobs had a go on the first launch of Branson's ship. Natch, we'll all wait with baited breath.

*To Apple. 3 (in binary) fingers, Sunshine!

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FAIL

I agree with Apple, but still blame them

I agree with the AC at 15:57 and Apple that this is probably some external force causing the screen to break. But I then blame Apple for creating a handheld device to be carried around in your pocket that is so fragile. I know a number of people who have dropped their iPhone or iTouch from a relatively low height and the glass screen has broken. In the 14 years I've had mobile phones, I've broken exactly 5 phones. 4 of them were Blackberries from work where the roller-ball stopped working and one was a Nokia 5110 that I accidentally drove over (it still worked - just the screen was broken and hard to read). Over the years I've dropped phones out of my shirt pocket onto concrete, and many other violent things. Occasionally the back explodes off and the battery clatters out - but never a breakage. Apple may have a beautiful phone with the iPhone, but it won't look great when it's broken 2 weeks after buying it...

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Thumb Down

Health & Safety

Surely Apple needs to do a recall? Can't have glass shards coming out like that regardless of whether it's the owner's fault.

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FAIL

dropping

People drop phones all the time. If it can't take being dropped, its not fit for purpose.

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Anonymous Coward

I droped mine many times.

I have first gen ipod touch which I carry with me all the time. I often put in in my shift pocked and sometimes when I reach for something I forget and it falls out. Once it dropped 3 feet onto concrete.

Its just luck. Depending on how you drop it the impact gets transferred to the glass differently.

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h 6
Grenade

Shoot

I've dropped my iphone (original) so many times but not even a scratch on the screen.

Something else than iphones seem to be exploding.

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in or out?

It should be very easy to tell if the force came from inside or out. Either this is true, or the French investigation will tell us the whole story.

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Sounds like

They're using hardened glass, which due to internal stresses will shatter, in some cases quite nastily, from even the slighest damage. Ofcourse it's also pretty hard to damage.

And if it is indeed hardened glass, you'd be pretty hard pressed to injure yourself that way unless you were holding the thing up against your nose or something silly...

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FAIL

Huh.....

"Apple investigation shows Apple products not to blame."

Well, that's all sorted then.

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Jobs Halo

Temp

What temp would glass have to get to to shatter?

I'm pretty sure it's hotter than the melting point of the plastic back of the phone, so I doubt that heat is to blame. And if it is what kind of numpty keeps it held to their face whilst this is going on? Surely no call is important enough for you to ignore the fact that there is Milton plastic tricklng down your arm!

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FAIL

Apple won't even look at the evidence!

The screen of my iPhone suddenly shattered in my hand just after I unplugged it from charging. Screen seems to have shattered from the inside as the top surface is fine. O2 (in the UK) didn't want to know as it was more than a year old (but still in contract).

I contacted Apple and they said there were no known issues (even after the recent press reports). I asked if they would at least look at it and they said no. They suggested I contacted O2 to establish my consumer rights (like O2 are gonna care). So it doesn't surprise me that Apple have seen no evidence of screens cracking due to overheating - because they are refusing to look at the evidence in the first place.

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Jobs Horns

Independent research???

Why aren't these phones examined by an independent org? It's easy for Apple to get away with it like that, just blame the users... And the ones they have now can be manipulated now to be like they say they are...

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The answer..

I would suspect the battery is being over-charged and is bulging inside the case. As there is very little spare room inside the phone this expansion will put pressure on the case pre-stressing the glass screen until either this pressure causes it to crack or a small knock does.

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Anonymous Coward

Regtards and physics

You can drop somthing from 50 metres and it will survive unscathed if it lands 'right'. Drop anything from a metre and have it hit on a corner and it will be far more likely to break. Force through a narrow focal point such as a corner is amplified many magnitudes higher than force through a larger surface area such as a whole edge or flat face. Any phone landing on a corner will probably die a shattering death.

Fwiw, the three Sony Ericsson phones I've had all failed woefully after less than two years without ever having been dropped at all ...

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Grenade

single digits....

but spread across how many hands ????

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FAIL

Wait for the gagging orders...

...and the fanboys saying it's all Pilkington's fault, and that the journalists are being nasty to innocent, "do no wrong" Apple.

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Grenade

Translation

"due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone"

Would that be air pressure by any chance? If so, nicely weaseled.

It strikes me that since there's no battery compartment and most of the shut lines are very tight, it's possible that they could be rather more air-tight than the average phone. If the glass is already stressed, then it's possible a little more pressure is all it takes.

Anyone have an iPhone that they're prepared to sacrifice? If so, please feel free to test my theory.

Hand grenade for obvious reasons ;)

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Didn't break when I dropped it

I've got a first gen iphone, which I've dropped several times onto concrete from a height of about a meter. Screen was fine in each case. I later managed to step on the glass face (it was in the pocket of a pair of trousers on the floor, and yes that was damn stupid), and that did crack it, but the screen is otherwise working fine, and I've been using it for about 3 months since then with no problems. Come to think of it, I did the same thing with a Motorola Razr a couple of years back, with identical results.

As other posters have said, it looks like its a case of how it falls, and how lucky you are. Seems to me to be no more breakable than any other phone.

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WTF?

more than 9 posters here reported personally seeing iPhones with shattered glass.

Just in response to this article and the above comments, more than 9 posters here reported personally seeing iPhones with shattered glass.

So either this is a common problem, but people blame themselves not Apple, or Apple is lying about how many reports they have.

Yes, a handheld phone designed for use in the street should be able to withstand a drop from waist level or it is not fit for purpose.

(That your original iPhone's glass did not shatter means nothing. Your iPhone would have a plastic screen.)

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FAIL

Re:Typical crApple using low quality, cheap glass

Trolling 101: When attempting a troll on a company renowned for the quality of its hardware, don't choose the hardware as the subject of your troll.

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WTF was apple thinking?

Well in choosing glass they won't have to worry about scratches, especially if someone drops one since there is nothing to shatter anymore. What was Apple thinking using glass in something that might get dropped or fall off a table onto a hard surface accidentally.

I see from this the rule that having intelligence does not mean having common sense. I don't believe it should take more than a thousand or so breaking for the EU or some individual country decides to mandate a recall for all glass screens to be replaced with plastic or some other non brittle material that will actually remain intact from normal accidents like dropping.

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Bronze badge
Megaphone

so why doesn't it happen in the US

A couple of exploding phones would have the sharks ( lawyers) circling very quickly. Not to mention the Federal Trade commision calling for a recall.

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invincible

well obviously Apple should be making their phones out of adamantium so that they'll never break when people drop or step on them

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Silver badge

So...

Apple say an external force was applied to the screen?

You mean kinda like how a touch screen is used?!

I too know someone with a broken screen iPhone. He did say it was his fault as he dropped it. Not sure quite what he dropped it onto, or from how high. All I know is I've never broken a screen on any of my non-apple phones, even the one that flew out of the open window during a car accident was fine, and able to ring the recovery people once I'd found where it had landed!

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WTF?

Utter cods!

I don't own one, have no need for such a gadget, but I know at least a dozen people who do have one and of that small sample, I have heard of only one such incident and that was because the plank in question fell asleep wth it in bed ( too much Apple love? ) and ended up crushing it somehow in the bed and shattered the glass, causing some minor cuts to hands!

5m units shifted in the last 3 months wasn't it? Of that less than a 100 have had a problem, strangely in one country? Too much Apple love in the Gallic kingdom by the sound of it!

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Jobs Horns

Maybe it's deliberate

"but it won't look great when it's broken 2 weeks after buying it..."

Ah-ha, planned product obsolescence

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"no_RS" may be on the right track

Also, excessive heat (from something going wrong during charging) may distort the casing, placing the glass under stress.

Is the glass used in European models the same as that used in the US? CE approval for cars typically means that windows and lights use different glass on North American and European models.

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Gold badge
Coat

@David Barrett

"...Milton plastic...."

Now, I was going to have a pedantic go at you there. Then I realised that you're covered by Poetic License.......

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Thumb Down

@Keith T

"More than 9 posters here reported personally seeing iPhones with shattered glass"

And you know if you read it it must be true!

Sincerely,

Jayson Blair

(OTOH, 9 is more than the number of Zunes I've ever seen in the wild.)

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B 9

@shawnfromnh

What are you thinking? Apple specifically chose glass because it was the most resilient to scratches, you know, something else you'd bitch about from your position of ignorance?

Let's face facts folks, the statistically insignificant number of reports of anything like this is unbelievably low. Now we add to the fact that it appears many of the issues were due to external force. It looks like this has been the huge overblown story of the summer that I thought it was all along. Nice FUD play by those who hate Apple, but there is no issue with the iPhone.

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The Glass

The iPhone undoubtedly uses one of the brands of glass designed for touch screens on mobile devices. This sort of glass is generally very thin, and hardened / tempered (those are the same thing.) The Tempering process does systematically pre-stress the glass, so that it can actually accept more strain before it cracks, but as soon as a small crack forms, it generally propagates at a high speed, since each end of a crack will provide both a massive stress concentration, and an outlet for the built in strain.

Tempered glass will actually bend a fair amount more than standard glass, plus it will take a much higher level of thermal stress, as would be applied under conditions of uneven heating. It wouldn't have a 'shattering temperature' so much as shatter due to having different temperatures applied to nearby volumes of glass. Theoretically a hot battery which applies heat to one side, while the other is exposed to air could cause failure, but I've got no idea whether the rest of the phone would be able to survive such conditions.

In any case, people should probably know what to expect when purchasing a pocketable device with a large, unprotected bit of glass on the front.

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Black Helicopters

Conspiracy

It wouldn't be possible for (insert disputed number) of victims out of (insert disputed number) of iphone owners numbers worldwide to have no insurance after breaking their phone and think a free one from Apple due to a 'fault' could be a nice idea ? Just sayin'.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andus McCoatover

9 is nearly a dozen

9 is single digits

@Darius

You need to seek legal advice.

Sale of Goods act gives you a warranty against faults according to what a "reasonable person" would expect, regardless of any artificial (and usually mandated) warranty period provided by the manufacturer / reseller.

You would need to be able to demonstrate that a reasonable person would expect an expensive piece of consumer hardware to last more than 12 months and O2/Apple would equally have to demonstrate that offering only a 18 month contract minimum and 24 month contract as standard in no way implies that anyone should expect the phone to be fault free within that time.

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Joke

Or maybe...

It's a new iPhone app. One of those useless ones. It simulates a broken screen. Unfortunately the makers added a message saying: "No press detected, press harder"

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