By Quentin Fottrell
A word of caution for those who like to carry their iPad around like a Chihuahua: Each new version of Apple’s tablet is getting faster, but also more breakable, a new study suggests.
Some 10% of iPad 2 owners reported a failure from accidental damage within the first 12 months of owning the device, compared to just under 3% of original iPad owners, according to insurance agent Square Trade, which analyzed data from 50,000 of customers. Though the durability of the new iPad is still untested, Vince Tseng, vice-president of marketing at SquareTrade, says that unless it has stronger glass, the trend of higher breakage rates will only continue with the new iPad. And all those butter fingers are expensive, since Apple doesn’t cover accidental damage without additional coverage.
The increase may be due to cramming faster processors and more powerful components into an ever-shrinking case, experts say. The spike in breakages from the iPad 1 to the iPad 2 was also attributed to the thinner, but supposedly stronger screen. But it may also be that users are just getting more brazen about how they use the devices, the study found. Experts say some consumers feel that their products are almost magical and – like the Titanic – almost indestructible. Among the stranger accidents reported to the firm include “the iPad being vomited on, being thrown out of a moving car by a three year old, and being urinated on by a cat,” the firm said.
Protective cases were supposed to prevent many provide armor for the tablets , but the survey found they often do little to ward off damage, the survey found. Consumers may be more wreckless when the iPad is in a case due to a false sense of security, Tseng says. If an iPad customers drops the iPad, anecdotal evidence in the survey suggests that people sometimes grab for the cover instead of the hardware (not a good idea). Those using Apple’s sleek aluminum “Smart Cover” will be encouraged to hear it provides the best protection against breakage, the survey found. iPads with Smart Covers only have a 41% breakage rate versus 60% for another silicone/soft plastic case.
The newest iPad is slightly thicker (0.37 inches) than the iPad 2 (0.35 cm). But Tseng says it’s worth getting up close and personal with the new iPad when it goes on sale on March 16 to see if it has the same iPad 2 screen. The original iPad screen has glass that’s more protected by the aluminum bevel at the corners, Tseng says. (Apple did not respond to a request for comment.) Despite the breakage rates, the report concluded that the iPads are reliable devices and, with some 55 million sold to date, Tseng says are bound to be a fair number of mishaps.
Still, experts say tablets across the board would benefit from sturdier glass. More Android tablet makers are focusing on durability, says Mark Spoonaeuer, editor-in-chief of LapTopMag.com. “Many slates coming out later this year will feature Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 technology, which combines damage resistance with a 20% thinner design,” he says. Demand is also growing among consumers for tablet screens to be as futuristic in their design as their more mysterious innards, says Louis Ramirez, senior features writer for DealNews.com. “Consumers don’t want a tablet that’s more delicate than a Riedel glass,” he says.