More than one in four Apple iPhones break or fail within two years, a company that provides after-sale warranties said today.
SquareTrade, which sells extended warranties for the iPhone, said that 26 percent of Apple's smartphone suffer a breakdown -- or simply breakage -- within the first two years. But that's an improvement over the iPhone's past reliability rating. "Twenty-six percent is actually pretty good," said Vince Tseng, vice president of marketing at SquareTrade. "And it's encouraging that the failure rates have decreased."
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According to SquareTrade, which examined more than 25,000 customer warranty claims, the iPhone 3G S is more reliable, and apparently sturdier too, than its predecessors, the iPhone 3G that first went on sale in July 2008 and the original model that debuted in 2007.
Last year, a similar SquareTrade analysis found that 31 percent of all iPhones failed or were broken during the first 24 months of ownership, compared to today's 25.6 percent of customers who have owned an iPhone during the last 22 months.
iPhone claims based on both hardware failures and accidents -- SquareTrade's warranties covers both -- were lower this year compared to 2009. While 21 percent of iPhone-owning customers reported an accidental damage claim and 10 percent filed a hardware failure claim in the 24 months preceding last summer, only 18.1 percent and 7.5 percent filed an accident or hardware-related claim in the 22 months prior to June 2010.
Phones kept longer than standard two-year carrier contract, of course, fail at a higher rate. SquareTrade's forecast: Three-year-old iPhones will sport a failure rate of 35 to 40 percent.
Tseng credited improvements that Apple made to the iPhone 3G S's touchscreen for most of the lower number of warranty claim rates in the last 22 months. "The iPhone 3G S is sturdier and can withstand a higher degree of shock," said Tseng, referring to the drop in accident claims, the bulk of which are due to dropping the smartphone. "But the overall reliability of the iPhone has improved, especially in the touchscreen."
The iPhone 3G S has fewer than half the reported touchscreen problems as the iPhone 3G, SquareTrade's data showed. Overall, Tseng estimated that the iPhone 3G S will have 20 percent fewer issues than the iPhone 3G.
On the downside, iPhone 3G S owners have reported almost 50 percent more power issues than those with the older iPhone 3G.