Ryan's description (see below) sounds very unlikely and i was not able to replicate it.
But from my personal experience I have been always surprised how easy Apple replaced my broken iPhones as long I had an explanation why the phone is broken and that it was not my fault. It seems the Apple store employees are instructed to exchange an iPhone rather than discussing and charging for it.
My son throw my iPhone through the room. As a result the front glass was broken similar like the image above and the screen was fully bright white, like a flashlight.
I went to the store and said, that i don't know how the phone could break by having it in my pants pocket. I got it instantly replaced without any questions.
Another time (when I accidentally left the phone in the sink during washing my hands) i called Apple hotline and told them that my phone does discharge very fast and freezes often after i did the last OS update. I got a replacement phone with no charge within 5 days.
I think the breaking back of an iPhone because of using a slide cover might happened once with somebody and instead spending too much time to figure out if it was because of a rare production issue, mishandling by user, serious problem or just coincident, Apple handles any complain in favor of customer. And they are taking any non bumper cases out of stores to ensure not too many people will try to come up with same complain.
There is no question that a phone which has front and back made of glass is easier to break than plastic or metal. However glass parts don't get as easy scratches or actually or almost not possible to get scratches like other materials.
iPhone uses scratch free optical glass, which is much more resistant to scratches but will still break when you throw it on a stone.
If you are thinking about buying an iPhone and you are not sure about the glass enclosure then wait till next year. The 5th generation will have different form factor and will use "elephant" glass (chemical modified glass) which is almost not breakable.
Now take your time and read the original article which was mentioned in almost every feed about Apple.
Ryan at gdgt raises the question today if Apple’s “antennagate” distracted us from a bigger problem, “glassgate”:
Whether or not you’ve experienced the iPhone 4’s famed death grip, or even believe it’s a real phenomenon (and based on extensive personal experience I can assure you that it is), the whole Antennagate scandal undoubtedly left a deep scratch on the iPhone’s squeaky-clean sheen.
But there’s another issue brewing behind the scenes that’s sent Apple’s iPhone engineering team back into the bunker for preemptive damage control.
According to my sources both inside and outside Apple, after Antennagate the iPhone engineering team identified another potential design flaw that appears to have sent them into a quiet lockdown, and has them working behind the scenes in what’s been described to me as something of a quiet panic to preempt any further tarnishing the iPhone brand.
Apple has apparently found that non-bumper style cases — specifically those that slide onto the iPhone 4, which are occasionally prone to particulate matter getting caught between the rear of the phone and the case — can cause unexpected scratching that could quickly develop into full-on cracking or even much larger fracturing of the entire rear pane of glass. To put it another way: Apple is afraid you might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own.
It’s clear that with the iPhone 4, Apple compromised on durability for aesthetic reasons.
The iPhone 4 looks great – but the front and back glass faces mean that you’re twice as likely to have to deal with shattered glass.
From personal experience, the glass faces of the iPhone 4 are timebomb, waiting to go off with the slightest drop. My iPhone 4 dropped out of my car, from floorboard height to the ground – in a rubber case – and immediately shattered the glass.
Apple replace my iPhone 4 for free, when I explained the situation. If your iPhone 4 suffers a similar fate, ask them to do the same.
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