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Posted at 12:50 AM ET, 01/28/2011

iPhone 4 owner sues Apple over cracked glass case

By Hayley Tsukayama

iPhone 4 owner Donald LeBuhn filed a class action lawsuit against Apple early this week, claiming the company is misleading customers about the strength of the glass casing on the iPhone 4. LeBuhn is asking that Apple reimburse the plaintiffs in the case for the cost of the phone and any repairs.

LeBuhn said that his main problem with Apple is that it markets the glass as being super-durable and scratch-resistant -- a claim he says his personal experience disproves.

Apple has not yet commented on the lawsuit; we'll let you know if it does.

The lawsuit, reported by the LAWeekly, focuses on how the iPhone's glass housing handles when the phone is dropped without a case. LeBuhn said his iPhone shattered when his daughter dropped it from a height of about three feet while sending a text message.

"Months after selling millions of iPhone 4s, Apple has failed to warn and continues to sell this product with no warning to customers that the glass housing is defective," LeBuhn wrote in the lawsuit.

This is the second big stink raised about shattered glass on the iPhone 4. In October, complaints surfaced that small pieces of matter that got trapped in iPhone 4 sliding cases made the iPhone 4 more prone to cracking. Reports of the problem became so widespread that the tech press dubbed it "Glassgate," and a research firm called SquareTech released figures that the latest model of the iPhone broke 82 percent more often than the iPhone 3GS.

Apple reporter Johnny Evans called those claims into question when they surfaced in October, saying that the numbers were reported in a way that made them seem more significant than they were.

"Described as '82 percent' of course this sounds like a big deal, but in reality it means 3.9 percent of 20,000 iPhone 4 owners reported a cracked screen rather than 2.1 percent of 20,000 iPhone 3GS owners," he wrote.

Glassgate, unlike its predecessor Antennagate, never came to very much, as the problem was not nearly as widespread. With this lawsuit, however, more people may come forward with casing issues.

Sound off: Have you had trouble with the casing on your iPhone 4?

By Hayley Tsukayama  | January 28, 2011; 12:50 AM ET
Categories:  Apple, Gadgets, Mobile  
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I am glad to see this come up. In December, my iPhone 4 screen cracked for no reason. I had been texting, took one phone call, and then placed it on the table face up. I came back 2 minutes later and the front screen had shattered. Noone else was around, nothing fell on it. I took it to the Apple Store the next day and the "genius" did not believe me. He was telling me where the impact was. I even told him that I didn't think he'd believe me. He said that's not what he was saying. I had to pay $199 for a "new" phone. It was new to me but was a re-manufactured phone. A truly new phone would have cost me over $600. I filled out the survey about my experience, got a call, without the person leaving his name. I called the store back, talked with a manager, she said she'd look into it and I'd get a call back. I never heard back from them. I don't understand how other people could drop their phone, go in and get a free replacement. Yet, my didn't drop and they charged me. I will be interested in following this class action suit.

Posted by: gonzagajen | January 28, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Mine has not gone so far as to completely crack or shatter, but I did have an iFrogz case on my iPhone 4 until recently when I switched to a Mophie. After taking the iFrogz off, I noticed around the edge of the glass what I thought were spots of dirt or something else that could wiped off. Much to my dismay, these "spots" don't come off and are apparently some type of scratches. I'm taking my phone into the Apple Store this weekend to see what they'll do about it.

Posted by: FB16179750551 | January 28, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

1. They're phones, not hockey pucks.
2. I've had a protective film on my 3GS forth past 20 months; doubtless the glass would be pretty scratched up if not for that. I have also been careful (knock on wood) to not drop-check it to see if the glass will break. Then again, I paid for this marvelous little piece of technology out of my own pocket, so perhaps I am more careful with it than my daughter is with hers, which was provided to her gratis by watashi.

Posted by: jlm656 | January 28, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I too dropped my iPhone 4 from approximately four feet. No mystery how it happened, the phone slipped out of my hands. My fault? Sure, it was an accident but the case (back) cracked and is still split. I didn't even bother going back to the apple store or AT&T because I knew what I would hear. To its credit, the phone still works flawlessly so I'm only partially dissatisfied. The sad part is that I will probably just get another iPhone when the next model bows. In the meantime I don't mind carrying my battle scarred iPhone 4.

Posted by: JimRockford | January 28, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with jlm656 the iphone has never been droppable (if that is a word) everyone knows this. If you are unable to hold it and drop it there is a chance it will break. If you drop a laptop there is a good chance it will break but no one is trying to sue a laptop manufacturer.

Apple will repair the back of the phone glass for a modest fee.

The fact is the phone is not billed as invincible. It is a computer, mp3, camera, video recorder. If you dropped any one of those do you really think it would be replaced under a warranty?

Posted by: applehunter72 | January 28, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse


You are completely missing the point. This lawsuit is about how Apple has allegedly misrepresented the strength and durability of the glass. Do you know of many makers of mp3, computers, cameras that compare their screens to the windshields of helicopters and high-speed trains as a selling point? i.e., if you lead people to believe the glass is comparable to windshields may survive a pebble at 100 mph, people would also reasonably expect it to survive a 3-foot drop.

Posted by: Chuckled | January 28, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Everyone knows you need to keep your iPhone in a case. I have dropped mine plenty of times with no breakage--but I anticipated this and bought a good case.

Posted by: scientist1 | January 28, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

If LeBuhn's daughter drop iPhone 4 in the apple's declared safe height and LeBuhn can found the words said by apple about this sue, apple should give him/her another explanation. But I can't remember anything while I read apple news everyday.
PS: Apple iPhone 5: Release Date And Expected Features.

Posted by: yourscreek | January 29, 2011 1:48 AM | Report abuse

If LeBuhn's daughter drop iPhone 4 in the apple's declared safe height and LeBuhn can found the words said by apple about this sue, apple should give him/her another explanation. But I can't remember anything while I read apple news everyday.
PS: Apple iPhone 5: Release Date And Expected Features.

Posted by: yourscreek | January 29, 2011 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Those who live in glass houses should not throw phones.

Posted by: jason23 | January 29, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

mine cracked in about 2 months - I had a $35 InCase cover as well as a screen protector and never dropped the phone - the glass back was replaced in 5 minutes at the Apple Store for $25-30 - it would me nice to get a refund

Posted by: samusic | January 29, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

This is really about BRAIN-cracking.

Posted by: craigslsst | January 29, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I do know that the glass is not unbreakable. Accidents happen. My phone fell off my desk while it was tethered to my laptop by the charging cord. It broke free of the cord, hit the floor and got a hairline crack. I took it to the Apple store. They attempted to replace the screen, could not, and I got another phone free of charge. Go for the warranty and Applecare.

Posted by: | January 29, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

My son dropped his iPhone 4 on day 1 breaking the back glass. We went to the Apple Store, they replaced it in 5 minutes for free. They said it was normally ~$30 to replace. Great customer service.
BTW, the lawsuit is about money and a litigious mentality.

Posted by: sjp1963 | January 29, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't the Apple iPhone use Corning's Gorilla Glass? Many competing products do.

Posted by: raschumacher | January 29, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Stumbled upon this article after reading this:

And I must say I agree with jlm656 the phone is not a puck. You can also watch TV on the phone, this is a sensitive and delicate technology. Are you going to complain when you drop your TV and it cracks?

Posted by: hellopotap | January 29, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I haven't had an issue - I just have a cheapie flexible silicone casing on mine (nothing protecting the front surface), and accidentally left it on the inside lip of the trunk (near where the locking mechanism is) one afternoon while camping. I went to close the trunk (a few times) before I realized I was smashing the trunk lid against the phone. Not even a scratch.

Posted by: salf | January 29, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The depositions in the suit so far consist of:

"Gosh, I inadvertently dropped an anvil on my iPhone and it cracked. Time to sue Apple!"

"Oh, my word! My son took a hammer to my iPhone and the screen shattered. Time to sue Apple!"

"The other day I was leaning out the window to get more bars for my cell service and the phone fell 12 stories. Guess what? Time to sue Apple!" :-)

Look, cracks, chipped edges, dirt under the screen, & the screen too readily being scratched in regular use should be automatically covered by Apple (although anyone who doesn't use a screen protector is asking for trouble) But "my daughter dropped it 3 feet and it broke" is really silly...

Does the person really believe that a product with a *glass* screen can be given to a 3-year-old and that there would be no risk of breakage? It raises serious questions about the person's qualifications for parenthood.

"Wah! Wah! Time for a class-action suit against Apple. They should have at least warned me that letting my infant play around with a $600 phone with a glass screen could lead to damage. I just didn't expect it."

Posted by: RaindropSky | January 29, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Could someone tell me why all cell phones don't have a loop so you can put a cord on them similar to the small cameras? I have a cheap phone, but it would still be nice if it hadn't slipped out of my hands and the case cracked. I can still use it (nokia). But really - why no loop for a cord?

Posted by: bealtaine1 | January 29, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Why not put little chains on them so the the little applettes can attached them to their favorite body piercing.

Posted by: pjohn3 | January 29, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

If I dropped my laptop three feet, the display would probably break, and the computer would be otherwise trashed. And I would NOT sue the manufacturer.

Take care of your equipment! If you drop your I-Phone (or any phone) it just might break! Why is this considered a manufacturer defect? Assume some personal responsibility!

Sincerely, owner of cell phones that have lasted years and years. One took 8 years to fail, and not because I dropped it.

Posted by: RoyR1 | January 30, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Have an iPhone? Here's one word you should become familiar with. Otterbox.

Posted by: rg019571 | January 30, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Call The Waaaambulance!!! "I dropped my really expensive iPhone 4 and it broke like it was made out of... glass. So, I think I will sue Apple. Yep, that's right... I am going to be a litigious pain-in-the-rear-end-consumer and I am going to sue the manufacturer. taking no responsibility whatsoever."

Paleeze. Come on. I do feel the pain of having to replace an iPhone because the same thing happened to my brand new iPod touch. I had it for exactly 2 days when a family member accidentally dropped it on our brick driveway and the thing was shattered in a gazillion pieces. I was really bummed. It cost over $300 + tax... The best Apple would do, was to allow me to buy a new one for half price. So, I coughed up the money and I put a case on it and tell everyone to be CAREFUL.

I have an iPhone 4, 32 GB and I am horrified to think that I could drop it and it could break. I could accidentally let it plummet into the toilet too...Would I sue Apple if THAT happened? Uh, no. I have a case on it to keep it reasonably safe. I know it would absolutely destroy my day... no my year, if it breaks -- but sue Apple? Would I sue Apple if one of my kids stuck a stick through the display on my Macbook Pro? No... I would sue my kid, but not Apple.

Posted by: PullUpAChair | January 31, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Don't buy a $600 Iphone. Phones get dropped. Glass breaks. Only the wealthy can afford to spend this kind of money for a fragile toy.

Posted by: dontsendnofarkingspam | February 1, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

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