The iPad has re-defined the word “all-in-one.” With over half a million apps in the App Store, about 170,000 native to the iPad, its uses seems limitless.
But for all it can do, there is one thing it has yet to accomplish.
Drop it on the ground or bump it hard enough on the edge of the coffee table, and the screen that was your window to a world of possibilities, cracks or shatters. Hours of productivity, creativity and entertainment grind to a halt.
Since first hitting store shelves in April 2010, generations of iPads that followed have been improved. But Apple’s latest iPad is still not flaw-free when it comes to breakage and durability, says an electronics expert. He says there does not seem to be much difference in how the new iPad and its predecessor, iPad 2, hold up to screen damage.
“A lot of times you can see differences in devices when you get them in — over time, things get tougher said Ryan Arter, president of Mission Repair, LLC. “They’re coming in and they look identical, it’s hard to say one is tougher than the other.”
Arter’s Kansas City-based electronics repair company fixes thousands of portable electronics each month, with the majority of them being Apple products, and 80 percent of his business is screen repairs. He says he began receiving repair orders for the new iPad the day after it was released. Since then, he is seeing new requests come in everyday.
“Because they’re so new, it’s hard to say they’re exactly the same, but they’re looking exactly the same,” Arter said.
The newest iPad features a Retina display, which produces crisper images across the screen. But the term “retina display,” might leave some consumers confused about whether there is a difference about how glass breaks on the newest iPad and the iPad 2, if they are accidentally dropped.
“When we get them they are mainly dropped, and they’re typically dropped on the corner, so they shatter the same,” Arter said. “At this point, as a repair center doing thousands of repairs a month, we’re seeing the same kind of breakage on both iPads.”
Typically, he says, it’s the pressure put on the glass from the fall that causes breakage in the newest iPad and iPad 2.
“When it bends a little bit (the aluminum coating), if you drop it on the corner, then that in turn touches the glass and the glass just shatters straight across,” Arter said. “Eighty percent of the time it’s been dropped on the corner and the glass in turn is cracked.”
Despite the device’s inevitable ability to break if it’s dropped, Arter says it does hold up well to bending.
“If you do bend it, it does bend quite a bit,” Arter said. “It’s surprisingly tough if you do a slow bend on these things, you would think it would just snap in half but it does bend quite a bit.”
He likens that to new glass that he says Apple announced with the rollout of the iPhone 4. He presumes that same type of glass is being used in the iPads, too. But again, drop it, he says, and all bets are out the window.
“That’s great but if drop it and shock it with a drop it doesn’t really help anything,” he said.
As far as competition goes, Arter says while iPads are engineered very well, there is no shining star when it comes to durability.
“Across the board I wouldn’t say they’re any tougher than any manufacturer as far as durability is concerned but we haven’t done any scientific tests to verify that,” Arter said.