Apple sued over iPhone 4's 'Glassgate'

Donald LeBuhn, a California resident, has decided to sue Apple over what he feels is incorrect advertising on the company's part. Apple's iPhone website markets the glass the iPhone 4 is made out of as "20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic," going so far as to label the glass "ultradurable." After dropping his phone three feet, LeBuhn is beginning to think otherwise.

Allegedly, LeBuhn paid $252 in September for a new iPhone 4; a mere three weeks later, his daughter accidentally dropped his phone when sending an SMS, causing the phone's glass to shatter. LeBuhn is claiming that his iPhone 3GS never received that kind of damage when dropped from similar heights.

He isn't alone. Back in October, Neowin reported that iPhone 4 owners were seeing 82% more screen breaks than previous iterations of the device. The study behind that article was conducted on more than 20,000 iPhones and, in fact, found that more than 15% of people who buy the iPhone 4 will experience an accident within the first year of owning the device. The analysis may have been a little startling, but it, combined with Apple's Antennagate issues, didn't stop people from buying the much-coveted device. Apple announced its best quarter ever recently, having sold 16.24 million iPhones in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2011.

Now LeBuhn is challenging Apple by stating that their website's claim is just a lot of false PR. In his lawsuit, LeBuhn says "...Apple has failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective." According to LA Weekly, he is asking Apple to pay back all of the customers in the class action lawsuit; he wants the company to reimburse customers who have paid for glass repairs and replacements, to refund customers' purchases of the iPhone 4, and to make any other amends.

Image credit: Luiz Machado via Flickr

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Oh Please...
Did you drop your phone therefore causing accidental damage to the casing ?

No matter how hard it is 'reported' to be, you dropped it... therefore the damage isn't apples fault.
So they claim it to be as hard as nails, dosn't mean it actually is! To be perfectly frank, look after your electricals as they are all made out of flimsy circuitry and plastic at the end of the day.

Well.... i accidentally threw my iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad & iPod through the window of a parked car when running down my street, unfortunately it killed the driver, his dog and then his car exploded because of the microwave radiation emitting from the devices. Unfortunately this happened near a gas station so the whole town was destroyed. All this happened when i lost concentration because i was thinking hard of who to sue next while i was running then tripped over my Nike shoe laces. (God Damn!)
The question is who should i sue over this accident ?
***********************************************
WTF, Get a grip world, this sueing culture has got totally out of control!!!!

If you drop your iPhone, buy a new one, claim on your insurance. Or maybe sue yourself for negligence!

I accidentally misplaced my iMac on the tram tracks in front of my home. Within five minutes a tram drove right over it and now the iMac has been split in half, rendering it useless.

Maybe I should sue Apple as well...

I'm pretty damn paranoid when it comes to my iPhone 4. Anyone who has ever held it can tell that it is probably one of the most daintiest breakable designs for a smartphone to date. The back and front are made of glass which may be great to resist scratching and what have you, but is down right terrible at absorbing impact. What's worse is that the glass extends all the way to the edge, so if you drop it chances are it will hit the most sensitive spot.

I'm no fan of Apple by any means, but WTF! It is GLASS. Yes, I bet it is probably resistant to scratches, I know my streak has "gorilla glass", and is very scratch resistant, but, if you drop it, ESPECIALLY on an edge, I'll bet it will shatter.

the fact that your phone survived doesn't mean anything in the overall statistics, even if you dropped it 10times. the assembly process has lots of variables that can lead to stress. This may be just enough for a few and good for most. 15% isn't anything to be quiet about and is a good enough reason to send a message to Apple. There are many kids at school in my area that probably take Apple's message literally. Some of them are so young that I am sure their parents think this is the toughest phone on earth.

I like it when Apple gets sued!
There advertisments are often misleading.
like Showing that Safari is the fastest browser
while the benchmarks they show are clearly outdated.

1) Apple is stupid for making these claims.
2) The glass is tough, but nothing like people assume and because of #1 and their faith in Apple are less cautious than then should be.
3) This is not even the most durable glass technology in portable devices.
(I don't even think it is as durable as the ZuneHD, which is darn good, but I don't see Microsoft calling it 'magically crack and scratch proof.')

I have had a tech take a saw to his ZuneHD after seeing another employee drop his ZuneHD on concrete and accidentally kick it about 30 feet without a blemish, and the saw lost leaving the glass blemish free.

thenetavenger said,
1) Apple is stupid for making these claims.
2) The glass is tough, but nothing like people assume and because of #1 and their faith in Apple are less cautious than then should be.
3) This is not even the most durable glass technology in portable devices.
(I don't even think it is as durable as the ZuneHD, which is darn good, but I don't see Microsoft calling it 'magically crack and scratch proof.')

I have had a tech take a saw to his ZuneHD after seeing another employee drop his ZuneHD on concrete and accidentally kick it about 30 feet without a blemish, and the saw lost leaving the glass blemish free.

I totally agree.

thenetavenger said,
1) Apple is stupid for making these claims.

I'm just wondering, why are they stupid for making the statement? Also what is the most durable glass tech in portable devices? (both honest questions, I don't do troll)

thenetavenger said,
3) This is not even the most durable glass technology in portable devices.
(I don't even think it is as durable as the ZuneHD, which is darn good, but I don't see Microsoft calling it 'magically crack and scratch proof.')

Isn't it even exactly the same glass on the ZuneHD than on the iPhone4?
I read the Zune is also using Gorilla glass, which is what is used on the iPhone4.

I have an LG Optimus 7, which also has Gorilla glass. I rather had usual plastic on it, sure, it scratches, but I can polish out scratches just fine. I can't polish out "shatter webs".

dodgetigger said,

Isn't it even exactly the same glass on the ZuneHD than on the iPhone4?
I read the Zune is also using Gorilla glass, which is what is used on the iPhone4.

I have an LG Optimus 7, which also has Gorilla glass. I rather had usual plastic on it, sure, it scratches, but I can polish out scratches just fine. I can't polish out "shatter webs".


I don't rmb iPhone 4 use Gorilla glass?

dodgetigger said,

Isn't it even exactly the same glass on the ZuneHD than on the iPhone4?
I read the Zune is also using Gorilla glass, which is what is used on the iPhone4.

I have an LG Optimus 7, which also has Gorilla glass. I rather had usual plastic on it, sure, it scratches, but I can polish out scratches just fine. I can't polish out "shatter webs".

The iPhone4 uses two types of glass. The back of the iPhone4 is a less durable material.

The iPhone4 uses a technology 'like' what is used in Gorilla Glass, but if it comes from Corning, they will not claim it as their technology, and Apple has also hinted that their technology is different, although Apple implied their technology was better than Gorilla Glass.

(If Corning is providing the iPhone4 screen it is not the same Gorilla Glass found in other devices like the ZuneHD that I mentioned before, as it doesn't have the same flex ratios, even if the base screen is fairly scratch proof.)

Both technologies use a special coating layer that makes the screen almost 'scratch proof' in comparison to 'scratch resistant' screens like you will find in the iPhone3 or a Motorola Droid.

Scratch 'resistant' will shake off normal usage and getting put in your pocket with keys once in a while without any permanent scratching. Scratch 'proof' should remain fairly unmarked even if you carry a screwdriver in the same pocket rubbing and hitting it all day.

The flexibility factor in normal Gorilla Glass keeps the screen from snapping and also 'gives' to resist scratches more than the less flexible iPhone4 screen.

The biggest problem with iPod Touch and iPhone has been the 'snapping' factor when even a couple of quarters in your pocket with the device is enough to crack the screen.

The iPhone4 is better, but considering the history of 'snapping' in previous generations, they should have put a bit more 'flexibility' in the iPhone4 display; however, the Retinal display seems to be a limiting factor, as it is reported that the Retinal display starts discoloring and failing when flexed at levels that OMLED and other screen technologies can handle. Which would require a thicker glass and separation layer to keep the flexibility of normal Gorilla Glass.

http://www.motioncomputing.com/choose/spec_gorilla_glass.htm

Go to YouTube and do a search for scratch testing, put in iPhone4, ZuneHD, iPhone3, scratch test, drop test, flex test.

Just make sure the videos aren't swapping out the devices.

My personal experience and my tech team's personal experience is the iPhone4 is far from the ZuneHD in both cracking and scratch resistance. I don't have numbers to back this up, just myself and employees with both devices and the limited tests we have done as I have mentioned. The ZuneHD screen is impressive, and may also not be 'normal' Gorilla Glass, but Corning and Microsoft have both touted Gorilla Glass in the ZuneHD.

I drop my iPhone 4 almost daily (for no particular reason, it just seems to happen) and my front and back glass are fine.

I don't disagree though that certain ways of impacting the ground could and probably does cause shattering to occur though. What would be interesting is seeing the average temperature of the countries where their iPhones most commonly explode and I would suspect that most of these occurrences have been in hotter countries. This is of course not a justification, but heat will weaken glass.

chrispinto said,
I drop my iPhone 4 almost daily (for no particular reason, it just seems to happen) and my front and back glass are fine.

I don't disagree though that certain ways of impacting the ground could and probably does cause shattering to occur though. What would be interesting is seeing the average temperature of the countries where their iPhones most commonly explode and I would suspect that most of these occurrences have been in hotter countries. This is of course not a justification, but heat will weaken glass.

WOW!

I have dropped my phone 4 times from about half a meter and is fine. I think iphone's durability is as good as any other smartphone in its class.

In other news, WM7 sales are being pwned by Android and not only. Symbian 3 devices are selling 3 to 1 against Windows Mobile ones. Didnt see this making its way into the headlines.

My phone dropped off my futon which is a meager 9 inches off the ground. I remember hearing my phone drop when I was half a sleep, thinking to myself ah oh well its fine. Woke up the next morning and the front was shattered. 9 inches people WTF.

you were holding it wrong, that's why it dropped. a material scientist will tell you that glass that is harder and stiffer will lead to higher failure rates in a device that is being abused daily. But they apparently also used the term ultradurable. Besides the fact that this may be possible to accomplish with glass by adding components to it, the only way to find out is to do a series of tests in the lab to proof their hypothesis that older devices were more robust than newer ones. I am sure that these tests are already available by the company who makes the glass and that the lawsuit won't go very far.

DerAusgewanderte said,
you were holding it wrong, that's why it dropped. a material scientist will tell you that glass that is harder and stiffer will lead to higher failure rates in a device that is being abused daily. But they apparently also used the term ultradurable. Besides the fact that this may be possible to accomplish with glass by adding components to it, the only way to find out is to do a series of tests in the lab to proof their hypothesis that older devices were more robust than newer ones. I am sure that these tests are already available by the company who makes the glass and that the lawsuit won't go very far.

Dr. Honeydew? Where is your loyal and most suffering assistant Beaker? Hmmm? Hmmm?

I see a pattern.

Title: "[Tech company] sued over [individual component of a tech product]"
Inside the article: "[Some name here], from California, is suing [...]"

A lot of them seem to be from Sacramento too.

I've thrown my iPhone 4, punched it, slapped it, dropped it, smashed it and whatever else you can think of and there's not a single knick on the phone.

Edrick Smith said,
I've thrown my iPhone 4, punched it, slapped it, dropped it, smashed it and whatever else you can think of and there's not a single knick on the phone.

Lies?

Edrick Smith said,
I've thrown my iPhone 4, punched it, slapped it, dropped it, smashed it and whatever else you can think of and there's not a single knick on the phone.

You punched and slapped your phone?

I drop my iPhone 3GS almost every day. Concrete parking lots, going down the stairs, etc. I even throw it and drop it on purpose when handing it to someone just to watch them scream. Of course, I have it in an Otterbox Defender case, so I'm not the least bit worried. Durable and as tough as nails.

JJMustang said,
I drop my iPhone 3GS almost every day. Concrete parking lots, going down the stairs, etc. I even throw it and drop it on purpose when handing it to someone just to watch them scream. Of course, I have it in an Otterbox Defender case, so I'm not the least bit worried. Durable and as tough as nails.

Lol. You are 1 crazy guy....

tanjiajun_34 said,

Lol. You are 1 crazy guy....

Actually no. Otterbox cases are amazingly well-built. Before I decided to switch back to an extended battery, I used an Otterbox Commuter case for my Droid Incredible. I would get shocked looks from people when I'd toss my DInc on the ground when it's just fine. I do get partially worried about the shock of the fall though. All the Otterbox is is a silicone case wrapped in a plastic shell. Silicone absorbs the shock, plastic protects the device.

tanjiajun_34 said,

Actually I don't understand wads with the gate?

It goes back to the break in at the Watergate building, and the subsequent fallout (Richard Nixon resigning)

Of course most journalists these days think it involved water, hence why they append "gate" to everything.

The_Decryptor said,

It goes back to the break in at the Watergate building, and the subsequent fallout (Richard Nixon resigning)

Of course most journalists these days think it involved water, hence why they append "gate" to everything.

yeah it's this years buzz word. Last year was killer, especially iphonekiller seemed popular

Saul Goodman said,
Gate this, gate that, gate me and gate you. Gattie gattie gate gate.

'gate' is just a suffix for 'scandal' at this point, because of watergate, I guess. I don't think it's more popular than it ever was. janet jackson had nippletapegate, there's wikileaks' cablegate, etc..

The_Decryptor said,

It goes back to the break in at the Watergate building, and the subsequent fallout (Richard Nixon resigning)

Of course most journalists these days think it involved water, hence why they append "gate" to everything.

Didn't Forest Gump cause that?

I've dropped my ifone4 many times onto many surfaces including concrete and even accidentally thrown it at a hard floor with no problems and I just have a thin hard-plastic cover on the back and 2 sides.
No antennagate either.
Mine was one of the earliest delivered in Australia.
I broke the screen on my previous ifone3GS

whyme said,
I've dropped my ifone4 many times onto many surfaces including concrete and even accidentally thrown it at a hard floor with no problems and I just have a thin hard-plastic cover on the back and 2 sides.
No antennagate either.
Mine was one of the earliest delivered in Australia.
I broke the screen on my previous ifone3GS
Thankfully my iPhone 4 has yet to break, either. Though, I do have the tiniest, little scratch on the front that's bothering me now /: Of course I don't think that has anything to do with a flaw with the device.

Anyway, I've dropped my iPhone 4 and nothing yet... knock on wood. Though, Antennagate is very real for me.

Oh Btw, i failed to produce antennagate issue on my iPhone 4 no matter how hard I tried the death grip. It just doesnt drop any bars on iOS 4.2.1

WiCkeD SaM said,
Oh Btw, i failed to produce antennagate issue on my iPhone 4 no matter how hard I tried the death grip. It just doesnt drop any bars on iOS 4.2.1

Do you know there have edit your post?

I agree, the previous generations of iDevices were more durable and strong.

My iPhone 4 slipped from my trouser pocket and fell on the road while riding my 2-wheeler. It was the second day of purchase. Luckily for me, the iPhone 4 was in a Leather Pouch Case which protected it from damage. There wasn't even a single scratch

"20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic"

Well stiffness, hardness & toughness are three different physical quantities.
The glass may have good stiffness & hardness but simply ain't got good toughness.
The plaintiff is looking for toughness.

figgy said,
"20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic"

Well stiffness, hardness & toughness are three different physical quantities.
The glass may have good stiffness & hardness but simply ain't got good toughness.
The plaintiff is looking for toughness.

I was going to say something along the lines of this. The words that Apple uses have very specific meanings, and the glass IS harder and IS stiffer than plastic. Something the glass is not, however, is ductile, which is why it shattered when it was dropped

figgy said,
"20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic"

Well stiffness, hardness & toughness are three different physical quantities.
The glass may have good stiffness & hardness but simply ain't got good toughness.
The plaintiff is looking for toughness.

Hardness is a technical term that lay people don't understand. People assume that just because the diamond is commonly known as the "world's hardest material" it's "unbreakable". But that's absolutely not true. Apple is taking advantage of people's ignorance when they market the iPhone 4's silly glass back cover as being "harder" than plastic, as if it's more resistant to cracking. The truth is that it's more resistant to scratching, but it will shatter way before plastic will.

Sraf said,
Something the glass is not, however, is ductile, which is why it shattered when it was dropped

Exactly. I was searching for the word in my head, but couldn't find it. Ductility
I always mixed these words up when I had this class at university >_>

figgy said,
"20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic"

Well stiffness, hardness & toughness are three different physical quantities.
The glass may have good stiffness & hardness but simply ain't got good toughness.
The plaintiff is looking for toughness.

your are right although the advertisement that the Iphone 4 is ultra-durable it a problem. Durability, the ability to endure, is not the right word for the iphone if it is actually quite fragile.

Lachlan said,

your are right although the advertisement that the Iphone 4 is ultra-durable it a problem. Durability, the ability to endure, is not the right word for the iphone if it is actually quite fragile.

Yes, but the lawyers will argue the point that it is stiffer and harder than plastic and they are probably correct about it. Glass is brittle yeah, but they never sold that idea. As for durability, who knows how they will get round that.

Eddo89 said,

Yes, but the lawyers will argue the point that it is stiffer and harder than plastic and they are probably correct about it. Glass is brittle yeah, but they never sold that idea. As for durability, who knows how they will get round that.

Wouldn't be to hard to argue that it is more scratch resistant. I know mine has only 1 visible scratch after a few months of use. My 3gs has tons of scratches in the same time frame. You are not SUPPOSE to drop your phone so durability wouldn't apply to that situation. Most warranties even outline what acceptable use is. Sounds like this guy took the cheap route and didn't insure his phone.

So many bloody "<insert topical issue here> gate"s.

"his daughter accidentally dropped his phone when sending an SMS, causing the phone's glass to shatter."
As opposed to dropping it and having it bounce back in your hand.

The incidents are a minority, and the minority always seems to be very vocal for some reason. I couldn't even get that excited about antennagate, most people didn't have a problem.

billyea said,
So many bloody "<insert topical issue here> gate"s.

"his daughter accidentally dropped his phone when sending an SMS, causing the phone's glass to shatter."
As opposed to dropping it and having it bounce back in your hand.

The incidents are a minority, and the minority always seems to be very vocal for some reason. I couldn't even get that excited about antennagate, most people didn't have a problem.

Maybe because phone's shouldn't break when dropped from an average height eg your hand, if they do it should be advertised that way, it shouldn't be advertised as if it's solid steel.

billyea said,
The incidents are a minority, and the minority always seems to be very vocal for some reason. I couldn't even get that excited about antennagate, most people didn't have a problem.

I know people are going to start complaining about comparing unrelated products, or it was not mentioned in the article, but...

There was an estimated 15% failure rate of the X360, people yelled and screamed (including people who are fans of the xbox, not just "haters") that it was unacceptable - and it was. But here we have an estimated 15% of iPhones with a broken screen, and it is OK. I have two 360s that get regular use and not one RROD, does that mean that no one had a problem, that we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore it? That only a vocal minority are making it an issue? And as many people said, the only reason the 360 sold as many as it did was because people were replacing their dead machines, well then 15% of 16.24M in one quarter is nearly 2.5M replacements, not an insignificant number.

The dude got "lucky", it depends on how it falls and any weaknesses in the glass.

My mother dropped her iPhone 4 onto our driveway (about a 5 foot drop), and our driveway is a mix of rock and concrete (the rocks jut out and have sharp edges), and it didn't even leave a scratch.

If there was a weakness in the glass or if it fell differently it could have exploded in bits of glass.

nohone said,

I know people are going to start complaining about comparing unrelated products, or it was not mentioned in the article, but...

There was an estimated 15% failure rate of the X360, people yelled and screamed (including people who are fans of the xbox, not just "haters") that it was unacceptable - and it was. But here we have an estimated 15% of iPhones with a broken screen, and it is OK. I have two 360s that get regular use and not one RROD, does that mean that no one had a problem, that we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore it? That only a vocal minority are making it an issue? And as many people said, the only reason the 360 sold as many as it did was because people were replacing their dead machines, well then 15% of 16.24M in one quarter is nearly 2.5M replacements, not an insignificant number.

Dropping fragile electronics isn't quite the same as defective hardware that fails even under consistent standard use. And if you drop your phone a lot, I'm sorry, but that sounds like user error, not a flaw.

nohone said,

But here we have an estimated 15% of iPhones with a broken screen, and it is OK.

Go read how the "study" arrived at that figure. (Essentially, by extrapolating a 4-month number.) Also note that 15.5% is to do with users having accidents, and not a failure rate of the device. RROD rates of Xbox 360s measure its failure rates.

billyea said,
The incidents are a minority, and the minority always seems to be very vocal for some reason. I couldn't even get that excited about antennagate, most people didn't have a problem.

80-20 rule. 20% of the people made 80% of the noise.

I was running and had my iPod Touch 2G in hand and threw it into a concrete wall. There was absolutely no damage to the device. Bought myself the iPod Touch 4G. Dropped it from six inches off the ground onto a tile floor and the screen shattered into a billion pieces. From my experience, I can say that the older iPod is MUCH more durable.

My iPod Touch 3G fell today..on the water..while it was snowing. In connecticut..nothing wrong with it ha.

crispkreme said,
I was running and had my iPod Touch 2G in hand and threw it into a concrete wall. There was absolutely no damage to the device. Bought myself the iPod Touch 4G. Dropped it from six inches off the ground onto a tile floor and the screen shattered into a billion pieces. From my experience, I can say that the older iPod is MUCH more durable.

Honestly, I don't think the man has a case. He will lose. Claiming your screen is harder than plastic does not imply that if you drop your phone it won't break.

crispkreme said,
I was running and had my iPod Touch 2G in hand and threw it into a concrete wall. There was absolutely no damage to the device. Bought myself the iPod Touch 4G. Dropped it from six inches off the ground onto a tile floor and the screen shattered into a billion pieces. From my experience, I can say that the older iPod is MUCH more durable.

Honestly, I don't think the man has a case. He will lose. Claiming your screen is harder than plastic does not imply that if you drop your phone it won't break.