Immediately upon the launch of the iPhone 4, Apple was under scrutiny. It was quickly discovered that holding the iPhone 4 a certain way resulted in signal loss, even leading to dropped calls in some cases. Dubbed the "Death Grip", Apple claimed that all phones experienced signal loss when gripped a certain way, though none seemed as severe as the iPhone 4's signal loss. Apple's solution? Give every iPhone 4 owner a free Bumper, an Apple-designed case that merely protects the sides, but provides enough space to prevent the death grip. As it turns out, there may be another benefit to using a Bumper over a traditional slide-on case.
Dubbed "Glassgate" by Ryan Block over at Gdgt, it appears that because the back of the iPhone is glass, it's highly susceptible to scratching. You would think that using a slide-on case, designed to protect the back, would prevent this from happening, right? Wrong. In many cases, it seems that it would actually be the cause. According to Block, particulate matter, aka. dust, can get caught between the back of the phone and the case, not only causing unexpected scratching over time, but even cracking and fracturing of the entire glass. Imagine taking off your case one day and finding the back of your phone is completely shattered. Using a Bumper doesn't have this affect, as it doesn't cover the rear of the phone, though some users have reported that the sides of their phones have indeed become scratched with the Bumper-style cases.
So what is Apple doing about it? Attempting to solve the problem quietly before the media gets hold of the issue and the iPhone brand is once again tarnished. Oops! According to Block's sources inside and outside of Apple, the iPhone engineering team has gone into a "quiet lockdown" as they try to fix the problem. Until a few days ago, third party cases were pulled from Apple's store shelves and website, with the Bumper-style cases being the only option. The problem is, telling users they can only use Bumper-style cases may be the only solution, which won't go over too well. We may have to wait for the next iPhone until a real solution occurs — no glass back.