Apple's decision to shave the iPad 2's profile and reduce its weight may mean a slight increase in broken screens, a repair expert said today.
But other analysts who have torn apart the iPad 2 said that the new design will prevent shattered screens because Apple's using a new, more flexible material.
As part of its work to slim down the iPad 2, Apple reduced the thickness of the tablet's glass overlay by 25%, from 0.8 millimeters to 0.6 millimeters, according to teardowns by the likes of IHS iSuppli and iFixit.com.
The move will translate into a small increase in broken screens, said Aaron Vronko, CEO of Portage, Mich.-based Rapid Repair, a repair shop and do-it-yourself parts supplier for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Vronko also pulled apart an iPad 2 to get an idea of how Apple designed its new tablet.
"On balance, I would guess this design change results in a modest increase in broken screens and at times greater damage, with both the digitizer/glass and LCD modules being broken," said Vronko when asked his take on the impact of the iPad 2's thinner glass.
But he cautioned that the modest increase should be judged in the context of the iPad's overall durability.
"We have been surprised and impressed that the rates of broken screens on the original iPad seems to be the lowest for any of Apple's mobile devices to date," Vronko said, referring to Rapid Repair's past year of experience with the original model.
And while the design change may translate into more broken screens, the iPad 2 may have the advantage at times because of the thinner glass's greater flexibility.
"For slower collisions with a larger point of impact, like dropping the tablet from a low elevation, say onto a corner of a coffee table, the thin glass can provide more time for deceleration by safely flexing further, which could result in fewer broken screens," Vronko said. "However, as the actual point of impact gets smaller or the speed of impact gets faster, it becomes more likely to break."
In the latter scenario -- dropping something atop the iPad 2, for example -- the thinner glass the isn't able to flex enough at the point of impact.
Others were certain that the thinner glass will mean fewer problems for owners, however.
According to iSuppli analyst Wayne Lam, there's a major difference between the physical properties of the glass used in the two iPads. The original tablet's glass was "brittle" and "delicate," said Lam, because it was thicker and isolated from the load bearing case because the glass was fixed to the case with metal clips.
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