Repair shops like Rocky Mountain Mac Repair have been waiting anxiously for any reference to the repair options for the next generation iPhone. In it’s Monday address to attendees of the WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) Apple gave us our first look at what they’ve coined “iPhone 4.” It looks to be an amazing device. iPhone 4 will address numerous concerns that have cropped up since the original iPhone and it adds great new features that many people weren’t expecting. Let’s take a look at what that means for you, the consumer, and the breakability of the device.
While we fix every possible problem your iPhone could have, our top repairs are the glass replacements for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G[S]. In every generation — 1st, 2nd, and 3rd — Apple used tempered glass that was scratch-resistant but far from unbreakable. In the 3G[S], they introduced an oleophobic coating that helped prevent fingerprints and smudges… but it was just as breakable as the previous generations. iPhone 4 is more durable and unbreakable than any device Apple has ever introduced.
Starting with the stainless steel bezel of iPhone 4: it’s impressive from every standpoint. One part acts as your antenna for your GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi… the other acts as your antenna for your cellular signal. Any future reception issues will not be Apple’s fault; they made it very clear that iPhone 4 will have the best reception of any smartphone on the market. So, we can finally blame AT&T or other international carriers without any doubt.
Apple created a new, solid and very durable metal for the new iPhone. Apple explained it well in the iPhone 4 introduction video, “We developed an entirely new grade of stainless steel that, after machining, is incredibly strong but also remarkably precise.” Apple previously used a chrome bezel for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3G[S]: it was the primary cause for broken glass in those generations. There was never enough ‘give’ or ‘flexibility’ within the bezel during a drop and, more often than not, the metal pushed into the glass and forced you to come knocking on our doors. In addition to the rubber gaskets found along the glass edges, Apple introduced three flex points around the bezel in iPhone 4. They define the different antennas in the phone and offer us a little more give if we ever drop the device.
Taking it a step further, Apple introduced a new manufacturing process for the Glass of iPhone 4… it’s nearly unbreakable. Referencing the introduction video, Apple states that it’s “comparable in strength to sapphire crystal and about 30 times harder than plastic.” We did a little bit a research and found that the sapphire crystal reference is absolutely amazing… we won’t bore you with specifics but if you’re interested in how durable it really is, take a look at this Wikipedia article. With the added give of the stainless steel bezel and the ridiculously durable glass, we may never need to repair the iPhone 4. Of course, that’s heavily dependent on how well we take care of our devices.
As an iPhone repair center, we do everything we can to keep our prices as low as possible… but with these technological advancements, we cannot imagine that glass/LCD repair will remain inexpensive. Apple reverted to 1st generation manufacturing practices with the screen assembly on iPhone 4: it’s all one piece.
Apple laminates the LCD, digitizer and glass together making them impossible to separate. Repair centers like us will be unable to save you the extra cost by replacing just the glass… we will have to replace the whole screen assembly. Apple currently charges $199 for screen assembly replacements while we can replace the glass for $99 (some repairs centers can offer this even cheaper due to bulk glass purchasing). Due to the new manufacturing process, the iPhone 4 screen assemblies will take a considerable amount of time to replace and the parts will be much more expensive. We’ll give you an update on pricing options once we’ve heard more from our suppliers. We don’t know what Apple’s accidental damage charges will be, but we’re not expecting it to be very cheap.
Overall, we feel as though Apple has taken tremendous steps in durability after receiving copious amounts of feedback from the last three generations of the iPhone. Is it unbreakable? No, but it’s pretty darn close.