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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AppleiPhone 3G SiPhonesmartphonesiphone 3g

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?