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On the wisdom of glass smartphones (Updated 2x)

Will Apple's mostly glass iPhone survive a drop onto a sidewalk? Only time will tell.
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Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributing Editor on

I've been taking some arrows for my criticisms of Apple's choice of glass for the front and the back of the iPhone 4 on episode 136 of the PowerPage Podcast.

In my defense, we recorded that podcast immediately after Jobs left the stage and the iPhone 4 videos and product pages weren't posted yet.

According to Apple's iPhone 4 product page the glass used in the iPhone is "made from the same materials used in helicopters and high-speed trains." Apple goes on to say that that the Retina display glass is "chemically strengthened to be harder, more scratch resistant, and more durable than ever."

Right.

My colleague on the Podcast, Rob Parker was noting all the shattered iPhone screens that he's seen lately, so I hope that Apple's right that it's indeed more durable than ever.

The big test is if the iPhone 4 survives a 3-foot drop onto a concrete sidewalk -- or whatever the distance is from most people's hands to the ground.

Update: Jonathan Ive specifically talks about the iPhone 4's new custom glass in Apple'design video - it happens at about the 05:20 mark, saying it's "comparable in strength to sapphire crystal but about 30 times harder than plastic."

Update 2: I asked Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of Worldwide iPod Product Marketing, if the iPhone 4 was manufactured with Corning's Gorilla Glass. He replied:

As you probably guessed, we don't generally comment on suppliers or ingredient technologies for our products.

I'll put it to you fair reader: will the new glass iPhone survive a drop onto the sidewalk?

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