As part of the iPhone 4‘s design aesthetic, Apple decided to make the backside of the phone out of the same glass used on the front. Cool idea, right? You don’t see too many phones with the backside made of glass.
The problem with glass, believe it or not, is that it’s prone to cracking. It’s true! So with both sides of the phone made of glass, you’ve got twice as much to worry about when it comes to scratches, scuffs, and cracks.
Apple has an official licensing program for third-party cases and other accessories. Accessories that are accepted by Apple feature a “Made for iPhone” icon on the packaging and can be sold in Apple’s highly-trafficked retail stores—Apple then gets a cut of each sale, of course.
According to GDGT’s Ryan Block, Apple is apparently in a “quiet panic” over some of these third-party iPhone 4 cases causing the glass on the backside of the device to scratch and, in extreme cases, crack.
Citing “sources both inside and outside Apple,” Block says:
“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.”
In response to this problem, according to Block, Apple removed “nearly all third-party iPhone 4 cases from its stores” recently and created a new laboratory and test programs to determine which cases are safe to sell. Certain third-party cases have just now been made available again through Apple’s website, but haven’t made their way back into Apple’s retail stores yet, according to Block.
If you check out Apple’s online store, you’ll notice Apple’s two iPhone 4 bumpers—which don’t touch the glass—in the “Top Sellers” section of the iPhone accessories. If you click on the “Just Added” tab, you’ll notice a whole bunch of newly-added (perhaps re-added) third-party cases.
Given Apple’s recent trouble with the iPhone 4’s reception issues, it’s not surprising that for Apple to find that third-party cases are causing cosmetic damage as outlined above would send the company into a “quiet panic,” as described by Block.
Keep in mind that this information does come from unnamed sources and Apple won’t comment on the issue, so take it all with a grain of salt. Just don’t let that salt or any other particulates get trapped between your case and the back of your phone—just to be on the safe side.
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