Apple's new iPhone X, which was announced earlier this week, comes with a whole host of upgrades from its predecessors (as well as an upgraded price tag). Aside from the missing "home" button, the biggest changes are the "all screen" front and glass back, which raises the question, is the iPhone X shatterproof? Other than a metal frame, the new smartphone, set to be released in November, is practically nothing but glass. And while glass can be treated in various ways to prevent shattering, there's no such thing as unbreakable glass.
Cracked screens on an iPhone are nothing new, but the glass backs haven't been around since the iPhone 4 and 4s. Apple brought it back for the iPhone X (as well as the 8 and 8 Plus) in order to facilitate wireless charging, which has been available on Samsung and other smartphones since 2011. Radio waves can't pass through aluminum backs, so if you want wireless charging capability, glass is the way to go. And while Apple claims that the iPhone X features "the most durable glass ever in a smartphone," there are no details thus far on what that means, exactly. According to Fortune, "glass technology" is better today than it was back in 2010, when the crack-prone iPhone 4 debuted, but Apple's not telling anyone what makes the iPhone X so durable.
Wired has reported that, in addition to the glass back, the front of the phone is nothing but screen, except for a notch on top taken up by the camera, speaker, and sensors. There's no button at the bottom, and barely any bezel around the edges. Apple has also finally embraced the OLED display (manufactured by Samsung), which allows for richer colors and "true black." Previous versions of the iPhone featured LED screens, which lit up black pixels, so they actually came through as gray. The "all-screen" design does mean that photos, videos, and websites will have cropped, rounded corners, and the notch will obscure a small area of the display, but according to CNET, users can double-tap to shrink the display into a true rectangle.
Apple could be preparing for an uptick in cracked phones, because in June, according to Reuters, the company began lifting restrictions on its proprietary Horizon screen replacing machine. Originally, only Apple retail stores had access to the machines, but by the end of 2017, hundreds of authorized third-party repair centers across the globe will also be able to fix broken iPhones using Apple's technology, nearly doubling availability. Independent repair shops are also a dime a dozen, but they don't come with Apple's seal of approval, and an unauthorized repair could void your warranty.
There's no pricing available for iPhone X repairs yet, but Apple charges $169 to replace the screen on an iPhone 8 Plus, and $399 for "other damage." Customers who purchase an AppleCare service plan are allowed two repairs at a discounted rate ($29 for a new screen and $99 for other repairs), but according to USA Today, an AppleCare plan for the iPhone X is $199, far more than the cost for any other version, including the 8 and 8 Plus. If you have kids, or you're just a clumsy adult, it may be smarter to invest in some physical protection for your new phone.
Numerous companies have already begun offering cases and screen protectors for the as-yet-unreleased iPhone X, but they're not all the same, so be sure to do your research. Glass screen protectors might look nice when they're first applied, but many have trouble sticking to the edges of the phone, creating an unsightly halo effect that only gets worse as dirt, dust, and Goldfish cracker crumbs find their way under it. Also, this is just anecdotal, but I just ordered my third warranty replacement in nine months, because, again, no glass is unbreakable. You'll also want a case to protect the back; think silicone if you anticipate dropping it even once, and make sure it has reinforced corners. True, it won't look the same as a shiny, naked phone, but even the ugliest, bulkiest case looks better than a pile of broken glass.
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