Court says iPhone 4 owners can't sue Apple over broken glass

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A California federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit against Apple over glass cracking on the iPhone 4.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila ruled this week that Betsalel Williamson's suit against Apple will not proceed. The ruling from the judge (via CNet) states that it is a "well-known fact of life" that glass, even when reinforced, will crack and shatter under impact.

"The shattered window of a storefront, the cracked windshield of a car, and the chipped smartphone screen are routine encounters of modern existence," Williamson said.

The class-action suit was first filed in January of 2011. It unsuccessfully attempted to argue that Apple's iPhone 4 design, which features both a glass front and back, is defective.

The original complaint cited Apple's promotional materials, which touted the strength of the glass used on the iPhone 4. The lawsuit featured a quote from Apple's chief designer, Jony Ive, who said the iPhone 4 glass was "comparable in strength to sapphire crystal."

Suit


The complaint also cited a third-party insurer who found that the iPhone 4 glass housing allegedly broke at an 82 percent higher rate than prior versions of the iPhone.

But the judge determined that Apple never stated that the iPhone 4 was "resistant to normal wear and tear, that the glass housing would never break or crack under normal use, or that the phone might not be damaged if it was dropped."

Apple utilized the same glass design for the iPhone 4S released in late 2011, but the next iPhone is expected to feature a significant redesign with a metal back rather than glass.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24


    "I crashed my 15 year old car and it got damaged. I demand a new one for free."

  • Reply 2 of 24


    Or, let's go to the Apple Store and get a possibly free or $70 new screen.

  • Reply 3 of 24
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,114member
    I wonder what happened to the doofusses who announced a class action against Apple because iPads turned off when you left them to bake outside on a hot, sunny day ...
  • Reply 4 of 24
    I love using an insurance company. Biased stats since they only know about their policy claims. Geesh
  • Reply 5 of 24
    timbittimbit Posts: 331member
    It's like the people who sue a coffee shop for being burned by hot coffee. How dumb do you have to be? Evolution really needs to catch these people and make them infertile so more dumb people aren't created.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    I dropped my coffee cup and it shattered, who do I sue?

    btw I've seen a few people who have broken Galaxy SIII screens, to fix them is over $300.

    What happened to the site, now AMOLED owners can sue because all the white will drain their batteries.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    kibitzer wrote: »
    I wonder what happened to the doofusses who announced a class action against Apple because iPads turned off when you left them to bake outside on a hot, sunny day ...

    They're hanging out with the guys who would have sued had Apple NOT implemented the safety precaution that shuts down the iPad if it gets too hot.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I bounced my unprotected iPhone 4 HARD off of both metal and ceramic floors. Not a scratch.

    I’m suing Apple for making me careless with the other, less resilient glass objects in my life.

    EDIT: Looks as though AI’s new article comment system is ASCII only! Unicode chars turn to question marks. Which means every quote mark or apostrophe typed on a Mac... unless you disable the useful smart quotes. (Hopefully that’s a temporary bug, since the main forums display my apostrophes OK. At least the new system does look pretty good!)
  • Reply 9 of 24
    I agree with the judge's ruling. On the other hand, I do think that making the back out of glass was a bit silly.

  • Reply 10 of 24
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    Finally a judge with a bit of common sense.

    Beyond that a 82% rise in insurance claims is nothing if the rate before the iPhones glass screens was only like 3 or 4 percent. Note that is misleading too as all iPhones have had glass screens. The interesting thing here is that my 3G ended up with a cracked back, which was plastic, but I've yet to have an issue with my iPhone 4.

    I know the judge has to be objective but it would have been nice to see him tell these people to go back to the rock they have been hiding under and don't come back. I mean really how sleazy as a person do you have to be to even come up with such a law suit?
  • Reply 11 of 24
    Glass (on the back, too) without a protective frame IS defective design.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Finally a judge with a bit of common sense.
    Beyond that a 82% rise in insurance claims is nothing if the rate before the iPhones glass screens was only like 3 or 4 percent. Note that is misleading too as all iPhones have had glass screens. The interesting thing here is that my 3G ended up with a cracked back, which was plastic, but I've yet to have an issue with my iPhone 4.
    I know the judge has to be objective but it would have been nice to see him tell these people to go back to the rock they have been hiding under and don't come back. I mean really how sleazy as a person do you have to be to even come up with such a law suit?

    The stat seems very misleading. The iPhone 4/4S was a much nicer phone that seems likely to me to have people wanting to insure them more than the plastic cased iPhone 3G/3GS. They were much more than a gadget in they looked and felt which is something we hadn't seen since the original iPhone. Remember when people complained about the cheap looking and feeling plastic casing? I sure do.

    More importantly, the iPhone 4/4S has sold in volumes that far exceed the iPhone 3G/3GS sales that a claim of an 82% rise in claims seems like nothing. An average of the number of claims per model insured would be more telling.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    kcartesius wrote: »
    Glass (on the back, too) without a protective frame IS defective design.

    I love how people think glass is all the same. I have to think you're imagining some movie where the actors fly through a plate glass window.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    naboozle wrote: »
    I agree with the judge's ruling. On the other hand, I do think that making the back out of glass was a bit silly.

    Why? Do iPhones not fall face down?
  • Reply 15 of 24


    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    I love how people think glass is all the same. I have to think you're imagining some movie where the actors fly through a plate glass window.


     


    I wouldn't like my iPhone to be made of sugar glass. Way too fattening.

  • Reply 16 of 24

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    I wouldn't like my iPhone to be made of sugar glass. Way too fattening.



    Sweet. 

  • Reply 17 of 24
    Correct me if I'm wrong - and I know you will - but if the number of pieces of glass has doubled and the rate that each piece breaks had remained the same, wouldn't that be reflected as an increase in insurance claims of 100 percent? So an increase of only 82 percent would actually indicate that the glass pieces were breaking less than before?
  • Reply 18 of 24
    misamisa Posts: 827member
    I find it facinating and silly that people sue for stuff like this.

    "Wear and Tear" has never been covered by any product warranty. It's like asking for a car to never get a windshield crack, paint chip, or oil change, and yet be driveable for 100 years. No, just no. The reality is that cars are only engineered to last about 10 years, and most electronics are only engineered to last 90 days to a year. If you get more life out of them, great.

    That reminds me of an electronic item that I kept in it's original packaging for a move across the country. When I tried to use it, it was dead, it was about 10 years old by that time. I called the repair number, they kinda went "check eBay." The thing is, their previous product was engineered better, and despite having thrown their previous product in a "junk box" during the move, it managed to survive, albeit some scratches.

    I do hate how disposable cell phones are however. I am using one that is 4 years old, but only because I barely use it. I actually have never bought a subsidy phone from a carrier, because I don't want to be locked into their network. So I feel justified in paying full price for a factory unlocked phone that lasts until the next generation network comes out.

  • Reply 19 of 24
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,548moderator
    Correct me if I'm wrong - and I know you will - but if the number of pieces of glass has doubled and the rate that each piece breaks had remained the same, wouldn't that be reflected as an increase in insurance claims of 100 percent? So an increase of only 82 percent would actually indicate that the glass pieces were breaking less than before?

    It's the percentage of owners of each respective model:

    http://www.squaretrade.com/iphone4-glass-study

    "Multiplying the accident rate with the cracked screen distribution, we find that 3.9% of iPhone 4 owners reported a cracked screen within 4 months, as opposed to just 2.1% of iPhone 3gs owners.

    While our data doesn't identify which broken screens resulted from dirt trapped behind a slide case, at least a quarter of the broken glass claims involved the back screen. With 82% more cracked screens reported, the evidence suggests that the iPhone 4 is more vulnerable to physical damage than its predecessor.

    Using a straight-line projection to estimate the accident rate after a year, Figure 3 shows the accident rate climbing to 15.5% by month 12, twice that of the iPhone 3gs:

    With just 4 months of data, it's clear that the iPhone 4 is significantly more prone to physical damage than its predecessor. The aluminosilicate glass seem to crack at least as often as the old glass, and there is now twice as much surface area to break."

    Even if there were 10x more iPhone 4 models, they'd expect the percentage of breakages to be the same in the worst case but they are a good deal higher. The fact that at least 1/4 of breakages being the back plate suggests that a metal-backed iPhone 5 will reduce breakages by at least that amount, although they may still have glass top and bottom. If the bezels are like they are in the mockups though, the glass at least doesn't protrude out from it any more and if they use a rubber buffer like in their patent, that should help too, even for the front glass.
  • Reply 20 of 24


    I think Apple offering AppleCare+ is their way of almost admitting that your phone was going to break at some point. Personally, I think the use of difficult to replace glass in their products was a poor design choice.  I've had four iPod touches.  4 out of 4 have broken.  I've had four iPhones.  Two of the four have cracked.  It is a fact of life that glass breaks.  It is also a fact of life that phones get dropped on a regular basis.  Most items with glass have easy replacements that do not cost a large portion of the original purchase price to replace.  Sure, a car window can crack, however, it does not 1/2 of the purchase price of the car to replace the window. 


     


    I have been quite happy with the performance and usefulness of my Apple products.  Their durability, though, leaves much to be desired.

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