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iPhone 4 Deemed Most Reliable, Least Rugged Among Popular Smartphones

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Last month, warranty company SquareTrade shared the results of a study of warranty claims showing a higher accidental damage rate for the iPhone 4 than the iPhone 3GS, with the iPhone 4 having a particular propensity for cracked glass due to the fact that glass is used on both the front and back of the device.

SquareTrade today followed up with a broader study of over 50,000 smartphones covered by its warranty program, revealing that the iPhone 4 checks in as the most reliable smartphone when it comes to non-accident malfunctions, but that it also experiences the highest accident rates among the studied devices.




When it comes to non-accident malfunctions, SquareTrade's extrapolation of iPhone 4 data yields a failure rate of 2.1% after 12 months, better than the 2.3% rate for the iPhone 3GS and all other studied smartphone brands.
Apple emerged as the most reliable manufacturer, with Motorola not far behind. We project fewer than 2.5% of iPhone and Motorola owners will report a malfunction in the first 12 months of use, with iPhone 4s leading the pack. HTC came next with a one-year malfunction rate of 3.7%, and BlackBerry's 6.3% was the highest of the four manufacturers examined. All other smart phones taken together fared the worst, with 6.7% reporting a malfunction.
But in looking at accident rates, the iPhone 4 projections suggest that 13.8% of iPhone 4s will suffer an accidental breakage within the first 12 months, topping the list of studied smartphones that includes the iPhone 3GS and its 9.4% accident rate.
As reported in our previous study on the iPhone 4 glass, the early iPhone 4 data shows a much higher accident rate compared to its predecessor. However, when we compare it to the Android manufacturers, it is higher, but not by much. We expect 13.8% of iPhone 4 owners to report an accident within a year, compared to 12.2% for both Motorola and HTC.
The study comes just as Cult of Mac offers its own report corroborating earlier claims that Apple is investigating issues with slide-on cases for the iPhone 4 leading to cracked and broken glass backs on the device as dirt and sand trapped between the phone and case lead to scratches that weaken the glass.

The report claims that Apple's retail stores are not stocking slide-on cases for the iPhone 4 as the company works to thoroughly evaluate each case design at a secret testing facility. The delay in availability is affecting a number of case manufacturers, many of whom rely on Apple's retail stores as their largest distribution channels.

One high-profile manufacturer affected by the issue is Mophie, which reportedly ordered a production run of over 100,000 for its Juice Pack Air, which offers a combination case and rechargeable external battery. According to Mophie, the case is sold through the company's own site and through AT&T stores, but remains unavailable directly through Apple.

Other manufacturers are disputing that there is even a problem, calling it a perception issue that Apple is carefully trying to guard against, particularly after all the attention the company received over antenna performance issues on the iPhone 4. So until Apple can certify for itself that these third-party slide-on cases are not leading to cracked iPhone 4s, the company is expected to refrain from offering them for sale.

Article Link: iPhone 4 Deemed Most Reliable, Least Rugged Among Popular Smartphones
 

croooow

macrumors 65816
Jul 16, 2004
1,044
206
So far so good with my iPhone 4. It has been dropped a couple times with no damage but I keep it in a silicone case.
 

Glenny2lappies

macrumors 6502a
Sep 29, 2006
501
117
Brighton, UK
I'd wager that the iPhone gest dropped more than other smartphones as it's very slippery without a case. It's also used a lot more for things like browsing, so I expect it sees a lot of disaster/accidents.
 

addicted44

macrumors 6502a
Jun 6, 2005
532
168
The higher accident rate is the result of 2 factors:

1) Lack of cases as people waited for their free ones.
2) Most importantly, an awesome camera, that means people pull it out and hold in an awkward position (by the sides) a lot.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,423
4,682
But in looking at accident rates, the iPhone 4 projections suggest that 13.8% of iPhone 4s will suffer an accidental breakage within the first 12 months, topping the list of studied smartphones that includes the iPhone 3GS and its 9.4% accident rate.

Especially when the iPhone 5 is released; lots of insured iPhone 4's will suffer accidental breakage then. (One insurance company reported iPhone 3 accident rate increasing by 50% when the 3GS was released).
 

Gm7Cadd9

macrumors member
Jul 7, 2005
46
0
I myself have a squaretrade warranty... but they have a motive in posting these numbers.

It seems like bad math/science. You can't make direct correlation to the amount of people who have your warranty to the amount of phones that get sent in. There are so many variables that affect this stat.

Does this number take into account the total number of a given phone in the wild, or just the amount of people who have warranties through squaretrade?

Are iPhone owners more likely to buy a warranty?

How many motorola phones break that you'd never hear about because Joe Blow didn't buy a squaretrade warranty?

What angle does this suggest? That the iPhone is weaker? Or is it that it's just more slippery than the average phone and prone to be dropped more?


I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't coming from a company trying to sell you their product.

When I first got a squaretrade warranty I was excited, thought I was getting a real deal... 30% off this month only, better hurry!!!11. Well next month, it was also 30% off, Summer Special, ending soon. Then 30% Fall special! TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Don't get me wrong, they offer a valuable service, but I don't like their tactics. They don't want you to NOT buy an iPhone, they just want you to buy their warranty.
 

ghostface147

macrumors 68040
May 28, 2008
3,357
3,036
I am careful with my iPhone. I keep it in its bumper most of the day for grip. It is a tad slippery.
 

perkj

macrumors newbie
Jun 2, 2010
4
0
I find it interesting that they broke out Apple to the 3GS and 4 seperately, yet lumped all the other manufacturers into a single group. I'd be very interested to see the data behind those others manufacturers as to which phones where included and what the indivual rating was for each. This study and the way the chose to show the data is not comparing apples to apples, they need to lump all Apples into a single grouping or only call out the top two phone from each manufacturer

Gotta love it when data is shown to tell only the story they want to tell.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,196
I like the Macalope’s analysis of the fictional slide-case issue:

http://www.macworld.com/article/154750/2010/10/macalope_scandal.html

Who needs things like “evidence" when there’s ad revenue to be had? :)


I find it interesting that they broke out Apple to the 3GS and 4 seperately, yet lumped all the other manufacturers into a single group. I'd be very interested to see the data behind those others manufacturers as to which phones where included and what the indivual rating was for each. This study and the way the chose to show the data is not comparing apples to apples, they need to lump all Apples into a single grouping or only call out the top two phone from each manufacturer

Gotta love it when data is shown to tell only the story they want to tell.

Good point. One of those many phones they didn’t break out could in fact be by far the worst/best of all, but the graph won’t provide that info. It only shows the iPhone data that way. There could be many models in this survey with worse accident rates than iPhone, but because they’re lumped together with other models we wouldn’t know—making iPhone look to be the worst. It might be... but we don’t have the data.

If you average the Apple data the same as they did for the other companies, you get Apple’s total failure rate being better than all but BlackBerry! I wonder what those unseen other models would show...
 
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Rocketman

macrumors 603
The reliability rate is high and improving, better than even Motorola. All they have to do is have a more 3GS inspired backplane.

It would be nice to have an optional 4x area version for visually impaired folks.

Rocketman

never logged in anymore due to a persistent system state
 

Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,311
32
iPhone 4 seems a step back in terms of ruggedness from the previous iPhone. However, with the bumper case, it's so grippy it's difficult to drop it.

To follow your logic, iPhone users are the clumsiest of them all :D

Oh darn, 39r0u[fdkvmaf;hka'r3

spilled stuff on keyboard. jk.
 

x13gamer

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2006
210
19
Pure Michigan
Who cares Where's the iPad 4.0 OS

Seriously its November 9th, Is apple going to also make us pay $10 to upgrade to it? Knowing them they would.
 

spazzcat

macrumors 68030
Jun 29, 2007
2,795
1,629
How many people had squaretrde on their other iphones? I did not, but have it on my iphone4. How many people broke their other iphones and has to live with it because they did not have insurance?
 

Wang Foolio

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2010
164
0
The stats themselves aren't terribly interesting to me (perkj brings up an excellent point about having all the other manufacturers' data lumped into single categories) but I still think the case issue is legit.

I bought a slide-on case for my 3G the day after I bought it. The only time it came out of the case for the first few months was for the occasional wipe-down and eventually the application of a screen protector film.

I noticed a lot of vertical scratches on the back of the case at that point. I was working on a dusty jobsite that summer, and dust/dirt getting into the back followed by sliding the case on and off was clearly scratching the back. So like Tiger Woods before me, I threw caution to the wind and I started riding bareback. Thin layers of protective rubber just took all the fun out of it.

Oh, and purely anecdotal evidence here, but I have witnessed TONS of my friends hurl their iPhones across the room accidentally, and I hear the familiar clatter of a 3G bouncing off hardwood coming from my roommate's bedroom all the damn time. I don't think I've ever seen someone drop a Blackberry... and I work in government where everybody is double-fisting smartphones. It might have something to do with so many people using those lame holsters for their BB's. Just random food for thought :)
 

res1233

macrumors 65816
Dec 8, 2008
1,127
0
Brooklyn, NY
Aren't most Blackberries made out of the same material?

Have any of them switched as drastically as a plastic-to-glass change?

True, but look at that malfuction rate! It's no wonder companies are thinking about jumping ship. Can't be too good for a business if you constantly have to replace faulty products. I'd imagine all they'd have to do to keep the accidental damage rate low is require their employees to use a case, although that's only for businesses that provide the phones.

EDIT: Well, not "Constantly", but definitely more than competitors. The iPhone is a viable replacement for the blackberry at this point.
 

pmjoe

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2009
461
31
And at 13.8% vs. 12.2%, it's a statistical dead heat.

Advantage = iPhone 4.
1.6% of 1,000,000 phones = 16,000 phones
16,000 x ~$500 phone = $8,000,000

Care to pay the difference on that "statistical dead heat"?
 

Wang Foolio

macrumors regular
Jan 11, 2010
164
0
Another excellent point :)

Still, it has to be said that the "accident rate" says as much -- if not more -- about the user than the manufacturer. Demographics, behavior patterns, accessory usage, they all will have a major impact on the accident rate.

Hardly the manufacturer's fault that the iPhone sees the dance floor while the Blackberry sits gently on board room tables.
 
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