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Thursday, June 10, 2010, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Shattered iPhone 4 photographed to challenge Apple's durability claims

A third-party solutions provider catering to customers of Apple's mobile devices claims to have recently acquired an authentic iPhone 4 enclosure whose glass panel failed to withstand a fall from just a few feet, creating an opportunity for the firm to question Apple's heightened durability claims.

Without explaining how, iFixYouri says it came into possession of a complete iPhone 4 shell with its glass face in tact, but minus its internal componentry. It then performed several drop tests of the device from 3 and a half feet above ground, which shattered the glass panel on the third attempt, as can be seen below.

The firm did not disclose the surface onto which the unit was dropped, nor did it perform any investigation into whether the device was more susceptible to damage sans its internal components and the added density and structural resistance they may provide.

Nevertheless, the firm is using the experiment to generate attention and challenge Apple's stated claim that the iPhone 4's all-new design and build quality are "like no other mobile device." The iPhone maker said earlier this week that the device's aluminosilcate glass front and back are "chemically strengthened to be 30 times harder than plastic, more scratch resistant and more durable than ever."

iFixYouri contends that while the glass may be 30 times stronger than plastic and able to withstand bending, its durability still falls short on sudden impact, which is "what causes 95% of glass shattering. Not because you bent the glass in your pocket, not because you dropped it and it bent, but really because of sudden impact."

The firm also argues that the iPhone 4 sports a design flaw that "will bite [Apple] in the future." Is says that in the new device, the glass sits on top of the unit's aluminum frame, where on previous models it was recessed and protected by a chrome bezel.

iPhone 4 Smash


While iFixYouri's one-off test should be considered anything but conclusive, Apple similarly appears to be veering on the side of caution with its announcement that it will sell its very first set of iPhone protectors alongside the iPhone 4, dubbed Bumpers.

To be made available in 6 colors for $29.99 a piece, the accessories don't obscure the front or back of the handset, but instead wrap its edges in a shock-absorbing, rubberized material.

iPhone 4 Smash


"With metal buttons for volume and power, two-tone colors, and a combination of rubber and molded plastic, Bumpers add a touch of style to any iPhone 4," Apple says. Several third-parties are also racing to market with similar protective casing designs which are likely to fetch a bit less than Apple's first-party offerings.