Gorilla Glass or no, the iPhone 4's screen appears to be more fragile than its predecessors. According to SquareTrade, a third party warranty company (including accidental coverage), iPhone 4 glass breakage is up 82 percent over the iPhone 3GS. Additionally, accidental damage in total is up 68 percent over the prior model.
SquareTrade analyzed iPhone
accidents for over 20,000 iPhone 4s covered by SquareTrade Care Plans over the first four months of its availability, and compared that to 20,000 iPhone 3GS claims for the same period of time. The results of the study, according to SquareTrade, show that the iPhone 4 is "is more vulnerable to physical damage than its predecessor."
However, while the percentage increase, in comparison to the iPhone 3GS, is much higher, it's still low overall. Although the rate of accidental damage is up 68 percent, the rate of owners reporting an accident is only up from 2.8 percent of iPhone 3GS owners to 4.7 percent of iPhone 4 owners.
Extrapolating the data, things don't look so rosy. After one year, SquareTrade estimates, using a straight-line projection to estimate the accident rate, the iPhone 4 accident rate would climb to 15.5 percent, twice that of the iPhone 3GS at 7.8 percent.
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.
Despite this troubling increase, it's important to take the accident rate into perspective. Overall, the iPhone is still a very well constructed device, with a non-accident malfunction rate much lower than most other consumer electronics.
With that sort of conclusion, it's easy to see why GlassGate
is indeed a real possibility.