iPhone owners, beware! (of iffy iPhone studies)

The real problem with iPhones are their susceptibility to failures from accidents.

BREAKING NEWS: Your Apple iPhone is bound to break! At least, if you believe a new study by an electronics warranty company that, by pure coincidence, happens to be promoting an iPhone warranty plan on its home page right now. Breaking news? Broken news might be more like it, as far as I'm concerned.

The report, conducted by warranty seller SquareTrade, made its way into the blogosphere this week and has been steadily building buzz on Twitter ever since. It claims that Apple's iPhone is "prone to accidental damage," seemingly implying (though never directly asserting) that the iPhone may be more likely to break than its smartphone competitors.

Don't fall for the attention-grabbing headline, though: There's far more to this "research" than meets the eye.

When iPhones Fail

The SquareTrade study (PDF) starts, soundly enough, by comparing the iPhone 3G to the BlackBerry and the Palm Treo. The company claims that, over a 22-month period, the iPhones it tracked experienced far fewer hardware failures than the other mobile devices. Only 9.9 percent of iPhones malfunctioned during that initial two-year timeframe, SquareTrade says, while 15.3 percent of BlackBerrys and nearly 20 percent of Palm Treos had hardware issues.

That sets the stage for the remainder of the sales pitch -- er, sorry...study. Brace yourself.

When iPhone Research Fails

SquareTrade goes on to claim that "while the iPhone hardware experienced relatively few malfunctions, the real problem with iPhones [are their] susceptibility to failures from accidents." More than 20 percent of all iPhone users, the company says, experience some sort of accidental damage to their device -- leading to a "projection" of any iPhone owner having a 33 percent chance that their device will die within two years of its purchase.

Oddly, the comparisons to other devices end here; SquareTrade doesn't actually ever say how the BlackBerry or Palm Treo fared when it came to "susceptibility to failures from accidents." Sure, the iPhone is "especially susceptible to dying from drops, whether on hard surfaces or into liquids" -- but is it any more so than any other small, sleek electronic device with a glass screen? Could other phones be dropped or watered without incident?

This omission, I'm sure, has nothing with to do with the fact that the iPhone is the only smartphone prominently featured on SquareTrade's home page for warranty sales. It also, I'd imagine, has no relation to the following highly scientific conclusion of the company's "research":

"As the cost to replace iPhones is high, prospective iPhone owners should consider this potentially hidden cost before they buy, or seek other ways to alleviate the cost of replacement, such as buying an extended warranty that covers drops and water immersion."

SquareTrade, according to its home page, is the only company offering an iPhone warranty that covers handling-related accidents. You know, things like drops and water immersion.

All purely coincidental, I'm sure.

(PC World's own iPhone stress tests, by the way, have generally found the devices to be fairly tough -- even against some of the most extreme abuse.)

Connect with JR Raphael on Twitter (@jr_raphael) or via his Web site, jrstart.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags AppleiPhone 3G SiPhonesmartphonesiphone 3g

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?