The LG Nexus 4 probably doesn’t have a glass cracking problem

nexus 4 logo back - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

As we’ve covered before, when producing thousands of flagship devices some are bound to have problems. Many different devices, including the LG Nexus 4, suffer from occasional screen yellowing problems, and the Nexus 7 had its share of minor manufacturing defects. According to some posts on XDA, another potential flaw of the Nexus 4 is that the back glass will crack when exposed to temperature changes, and while it is certainly plausible, it probably isn’t something the average user needs to worry about.

Does Glass Break in the Freezer?

The reports on XDA cite a YouTube video, in which a Nexus 4 owner displays a Nexus 4 with a cracked back cover, and claims that it happened while the device was charging overnight. He says that the device was also extremely hot when he picked it up in the morning, which led him to the conclusion that the glass was cracked due to the change in temperature. This caused quite a bit of controversy, with some users accusing him of simply trying to get a refund for dropped phone, while others agreed with his interpretation of the problem, and still others thought the reason for the break might not be heat alone.

From what I can tell, I don’t think that the Nexus 4 has a glass quality problem, even though the back glass isn’t Gorilla Glass. I also don’t think that temperature changes alone caused the glass to crack as seen in the video. If the Nexus did in fact break on its own, I think that the most likely culprit is a bad battery. I’ve seen faulty mobile batteries quite a few times, and in general they do two things when charged: Heat up and expand. A faulty battery in the Nexus 4 of this unlucky user could have expanded enough to crack the display, while also heating up enough to make temperature a suspect as well.

Regardless of exactly how the glass broke, I don’t think that the incident warrants a panic about the Nexus 4’s glass quality. It is true that the rear glass of the device might not be as strong as the Gorilla Glass found on the front, but it should not be excessively prone to breaking. Faulty batteries also don’t seem to be a likely problem, although I will be watching to see if more reports surface. For now, I would still feel safe buying the Nexus 4, if it were even in stock on Google Play to begin with.

[xda-developers]
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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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19 thoughts on “The LG Nexus 4 probably doesn’t have a glass cracking problem

  • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
    January 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm
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    Glass breaks, so putting it where it doesn’t have to be is in my opinion a problem.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Aaron Orquia
      January 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm
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      I agree completely, but it is still worth noting that the Nexus 4’s rear glass is no weaker than most other glass. It may be prone to breaking, but I doubt it has a manufacturing problem.

      Reply
  • Avatar of goober999
    January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am
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    How about just put a case on it, as most people with half a brain will do. Any phone can be broken when dropped if it doesn’t have a case, And don’t give me the “I done dropped my old phone a hunerd times an’ she never broke”. You were lucky.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
      January 19, 2013 at 10:23 am
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      As much as I prefer to use a case myself, I can’t agree with your logic. Many people prefer a case-less experience, and they should be able to have that. Having glass on both sides means that there are now two sides that can break if dropped. On top of that, the article mentions that the back glass might not even be as strong as the front glass, which is ridiculous. Not to mention that having one side that’s not glass is a natural “this side down” for any phone, and you not only lose that here, but would actually be wiser to put the front down since that’s apparently stronger. A glass back on a phone is some prime stupidity; There’s a reason Apple gave it up.

      Reply
    • Avatar of Zack
      February 25, 2013 at 4:36 am
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      Lol.

      I’m sorry mate but the phone already comes in the case that the manufacturer sells it in and that should be fit for purpose.

      Seriously, the only reason that I would ever put a phone in a case would be if I wanted to sell it and keep it scratch free. I, not unreasonably, expect any mobile handset to be designed and manufactured to survive any reasonable drop onto a hard surface without non cosmetic damage occurring.

      If everyone who had “half a brain” as you claimed bought phones only to put them in their own cases, why would manufacturers bother with cases at all…they could just sell us the circuit boards/screens and we could all have our own custom bling / fluffy / football team / etc etc cases.
      I like the way my Nex 4 looks out of the box, and should NOT have to buy a case to keep it looking that way. Particularly, as any case totally spoils its looks, which actually indicates what a retarded comment yours is but then I guess your half brain wasn’t working that day……

      Reply
  • Avatar of goober999
    January 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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    This is the only new nexus phone and it has a glass back. That is where it ends. Whether it’s stupid or not really doesn’t matter. Most people buy it without a contract and keep it for a year or so and sell it for the next phone. If you want top dollar you keep it in a case. If you don’t care what it looks like you don’t. It’s a fragile electronic device that most often will break if dropped thats part of the cellphone experience.

    Reply
  • Avatar of goober999
    January 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm
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    Just a thought, put a screen protector on the back…no scratches… it’s magic!

    Reply
    • Avatar of Aaron Orquia
      January 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm
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      I have a screen protector on the back of my Nexus 4, but it won’t help much with shattering or the theoretical internal rupture. Only scratches.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Joe
    January 19, 2013 at 11:24 pm
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    The fact that the back is glass and can crack is in fact a glass cracking problem. One of the dumbest design decisions ever in my opinion – what is it the glass coats? A layer of plastic?

    What’s cheaper, glass or plastic?

    Reply
  • Avatar of goober999
    January 20, 2013 at 7:16 am
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    I guess most people can figure out how to deal with it, it’s selling as fast as they can make them.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Tyler
    February 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm
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    Had my Nexus 4 for almost a week now. I’ve been EXTREMELY cautious with it until the case I ordered gets here. This afternoon I was admiring the sparkly back of the phone and everything looked perfect. This evening I noticed that there was a big crack down almost the full height of the back of the phone. I have never dropped this phone or even placed it down roughly. I’m love EVERYTHING ELSE about this phone, but using glass other than Gorilla glass on the back is a design flaw, in my opinion. I am going to try to get LG to fix their mistake by replacing or repairing my phone at no cost (because I am not the cause of this break). If they don’t fix their mistake its a shame, because up until this crack, the phone was really changing my opinion of LG phones and they were definitely gaining a repeat customer… until the glass broke.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Zack
    February 25, 2013 at 4:25 am
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    My back has completely shattered within 9 days of receiving it. It slipped off my desk, onto the padded arm of my chair, and then two feet onto a well padded carpet.
    So, yes, I dropped it, and yes, I knew it had a glass back when I bought it and that it would never look great after a 4 foot fall onto concrete, but two feet onto padded carpet should be well within a mobile devices design specification.
    1, The phone is ridiculously slippy (my desk is level to the naked eye and a conventional spirit level and between 0 and 0.25 degrees using an inclinometer). As soon as it rang, the vibrate function was enough for it to slide.
    2, The glass back is overly fragile.

    In my mind this is a recipe for disaster and any competent design team should have identified this as a risk and designed it out (I am a design engineer and this is elementary in all principles of design).

    Thus, in my opinion, there is either a serious design specification omission, a design flaw, or manufacturing making changes unapproved changes to the design. Either way the phone is not fit for purpose in my humble opinion, and at the very least should be sold with a warning that it has a fragile back and should always be use with a case.

    If you get the same problem, be warned that Google don’t want to know and will simply pass you onto LG who want 140 dollars (I’m waiting for a quote in £). Google do not seem to care that they are in breach of UK legislation where under “The Sale of Goods Act” the contract of sale (and all subsequent remedies) is between the customer, me, and the retailer, Google, not the manufacturer. This applies to any company that trades within the UK, regardless of HQ location.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Zack
      February 25, 2013 at 4:40 am
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      Should also add, that I’m still picking glass splinters out of my hand as although the shattered glass is still in place, lots of slivers from the cracks between the shattered elements broke away (and are still doing so every time the shattered back flexes).

      I’m wondering if it was originally specced with gorilla glass on the back, but some accountant decided to save a few pennies by using a normal glass. After all “who cares about scratches on the back of a phone”.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Sinfatus
    April 15, 2013 at 10:38 am
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    Zack

    Funny on how quickly you changed your mind, isn’t it?

    Glass in the back cover was only a design idea, but certainly never passed on a drop test or even were decided by the engineering team of LG.

    They could have used a hard translucid plastic in the cover instead of glass, it would have looking as good as the glass does.

    So what is the point of have a good looking glass back cover if you must hide it under a ruber cover or it will break?

    Reply
  • Avatar of Dean
    April 17, 2013 at 5:03 am
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    Wife has one of these and it fell onto the floor from about 18 inches and cracked the back as seems very common. Bad luck you may say, but it’s a “mobile” device and is intended therefore to be carried around. ANY item sold in the UK should be by law fit for it’s intended purpose. This clearly is not. -You could argue that a case might have helped, but why should a case be bought just to prevent it shattering. It should be durable enough as sold for it’s intended use. The design itself is very slippery with no way of gripping it and is easy to slide out of the hand. Anyway, this was issued to my wife as an employee of a large worldwide company with offices in the UK. This phone model was on their list of approved devices to be issued to company employees. I know for certain that because of this cracking problem they are investigating it with the view to sending those back that they already have and removing it from their approved list.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jared
    August 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm
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    I bought a Nexus 4 after my Original Galaxy nexus got soaked in a rainstorm, and the camera went. LOVED the Samsung Nexus! Next to indestructible! The LG on the other hand, A week out and I have to get the glass repaired because it decided to shatter on me. Why the need for glass LG? Samsung had it right on with the Nexus phone! I’m frankly a bit pissed off with LG.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Arin
    September 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm
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    My glass shattered just sitting on the counter, room temperature, no drops. And apparently no remedy from T-Mobile, Google or LG. So unbelievably angry at all of them.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Tracey
    September 4, 2013 at 9:29 am
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    Sounds implausible I know but the back of my nexus shattered in my hand today! I was just holding it and I physically heard it cracking, sounded like popping candy. I turned it over to find a spider web of cracks all over the back and little sparkly shards of glass over my hand! Lg are going to call me back tomorrow……

    Reply
  • Avatar of justin
    September 30, 2013 at 11:55 am
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    My back glass just shattered as the phone sat on a table in front of me (face up). Heard a pop, grabbed my phone and noticed about 3 minutes later.

    Reply

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