Now that Apple has shut everybody up about the iPhone 4 antenna with free cases, it faces another potential problem: Those cases could potentially cause damage to the handset’s glass body, according to Ryan Block of GDGT.
Block, a well-sourced tech journalist who was formerly chief of Engadget, claims sources both inside and outside Apple told him that Apple retail stores have stopped selling third-party iPhone cases that slide on to the iPhone 4. These cases are prone to particulate matter getting stuck between the case and the rear of the phone, causing unexpected scratching that can lead to cracking of the glass, Block said.
“To put it another way: Apple is afraid you might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own,” Block wrote in a post Thursday afternoon.
Defusing conspiracy theorists, Block added that halting third-party iPhone case sales is not in Apple’s best interest: accessories that have been approved byApple’s “Made for iPhone” program give a chunk of their sales (10 to 15 percent) to Apple in exchange for shelf room at Apple stores.
Despite its hot sales and glowing reviews, the iPhone 4 has seen its share of problems. Shortly after the handset’s July release, many consumers independently reported that covering the gap in the lower-left corner of the device caused significant signal loss. The media piled on this phenomenon, and in response, Apple’s Steve Jobs held a press conference to address concerns by offering free third-party cases to alleviate the issue (an offer that has since expired). The episode has been dubbed “Antennagate.”
Separately, the white model of the iPhone 4 still has not shipped, and Apple has not provided an explanation for the delay.
Weeks after the Antennagate press conference, The New York Times reported the departure of Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of the iPhone’s hardware. Multiple publications independently heard his departure was a firing over hardware issues related to the iPhone 4, which seems plausible when you consider that the mysterious delay of the white iPhone 4, the Antennagate fiasco and the new potential problem with the iPhone 4’s glass.
Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.
Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com