Slide-on cases can crack iPhone glass

Apple may have another big iPhone 4 problem on its hands, with reports that the engineering team are scrabbling to deal with numerous complaints over cracked glass on the back of the phone.

Ironically, the problem appears to be caused by people using bumpers or cases – precisely what was recommended back when the ‘antennagate’ scandal erupted.

While Apple eventually caved in and started offering free bumpers itself, its initial response was to suggest that customers go out and buy one themselves to improve reception. And while it recommended its own products, it did not warn customers that using another brand could leave them with a broken phone.

But according to blogger Ryan Block, the iPhone engineering team has discovered that using a slide-on case can allow dirt to get in and cause scratches on the glass back – scratches which can very easily lead to serious cracking.

He says the company’s taking the problem so seriously that it’s set up a test facility specifically to deal with it.

The iPhone was initially promised to be more scratch-resistant than its predecessor. Reports that this wasn’t the case started to appear early on, but were rather swallowed up by the far greater scandal of poor reception.

The company appears to have known about the problem for quite some time. Apple’s own bumper cases are designed, somewhat unusually, in such a way that there’s no contact between them and the glass. And while one or two third-party cases are available through the Apple Store marked ‘Made for iPhone’, not one of these is a slide-on model.