“Plastic” iPhone 3G actually stronger than the 1st gen? Made of zirconia? - Macenstein

“Plastic” iPhone 3G actually stronger than the 1st gen? Made of zirconia?

Everyone loves WillItBlend.com, the site where Tom blends all sorts of gadgets (but only gets page hits when they are made by Apple) in his TotalBlender. Well, a little bird asked us to check out the latest WillItBlend video of the new “plastic” iPhone 3G being destroyed, and then compare it to the original, “metallic” iPhone’s blended experience. See below.

Above: As you can see, the 1st gen iPhone was reduced to powder, aside from the metal screen border.

Above: Now, check out that “plastic” 3G iPhone.

As you can see, while the first gen was reduced to total powder, the new 3G “plastic” model actually has a fairly good looking back plate intact, with a legible Apple logo visible as well.

Our birdy also pointed out something else to us about the 3G’s “plastic” backing – ” Apple never said it was plastic. Also about 2 years ago apple had a patent for an indestructible ceramic housing for handheld devices that block no wireless frequencies.” That patent is patent #20060268528, and describes a zirconia/Yttrium hybrid that may have an additional silicon coating applied “on the exterior surface to prevent cracking and protect the ceramic shell from undesirable forces as for example when the ceramic shell is dropped.”

And… Blending?

So, is the 3G iPhone zirconia? Whatever it is, it appears to be stronger than the 1st gens aluminum.

10 Responses to ““Plastic” iPhone 3G actually stronger than the 1st gen? Made of zirconia?”
  1. Imagine Engine says:

    I can’t even buy a 16 GB iPhone 3G here in Vancouver due to all the dealers are sold out and here this guy blends an iPhone 3G. I don’t find this funny at all 🙁

  2. Jeremy says:


  3. Alex says:

    Quote: “…Apple never said it was plastic.”

    False. Steve Jobs rattled it off as one of the features of iPhone 3G at its introduction at WWDC. If he’s not a credible Apple spokesperson, I don’t know who is.

    I’m pretty surprised about that non-blendable piece of iPhone with the Apple logo on it though. They’re using some damn strong plastic.

  4. Laurence P. Nonny says:

    Hey that’s really interesting — of course the 3G may have been less blended simply because it was not blended as long, bounced differently in the machine, etc.

    But why wouldn’t Apple be boasting about the nifty ceramic case? (…er I mean, the “revolutionary, unbelievably durable, reality- but not radio-distorting case”?)

  5. c. says:

    The back of iPhone 3G is polycarbonate plastic.

    Unfortunately my new white model had a distorted and sharp top edge (joining the metal boarder on one side), that needed to be carved back flush and polished.

    I there is a large metal pad on the inside of the back that joins with the apple logo though.


  6. HDJ says:

    Check out the tags on this article, and you’ll know why you should take this post with a grain of salt 🙂

    If they would really use some kind of space shuttle material, Apple would not have left it for macenstein to discover this.

  7. imajoebob says:

    I’m not sure this would be Zirconia. I worked in ceramics for more than a decade, and while Zirconia is incredibly strong and durable – it’s used for stuff from washerless faucet seals to artificial joints, it is still a ceramic, which has some undesirable qualities.

    Cermics don’t usually deteriorate, or crack, or any of the things plastics do. They can scratch, but it’s almost as hard as diamond, so that would be a real plus for the iPhone. But, and it’s a BIG bit, ceramics can suffer catastrophic failures, and that’s usually the way they fail. If you dropped a Zirconia iPhone, it may come out perfect, maybe a chip or two. But if you drop it just right – or wrong – the material shatters like pottery, or more likely sheers big chunks.

    If it’s possible, I could see some sort of plastic reinforced Zirconia, like a high tech bondo or wall tape. But it’s been a few years, so I don’t know if that’s possible.

    Plus, it’s a helluva lot pricier than almost any plastic.

  8. Peter says:

    One of the properties of Zirconia is that it shrinks when it’s getting hot. That maybe the solution of the cracks in the iPhone 3G’s. We looked at the photo’s on macrumors.com and it looks that the haircracks only appear in places where there are holes (camera, headphone input) in the ceramic Zirconia back of the iPhone. So that maybe the solution of the cracks.

  9. Austin says:

    I must say I’m not totally happy with the black back. I dropped it from a very low height and the bottom corner is sorts chipped. I don’t really care but I don’t think the first gen back would chip. The funny thing is I had a case on it.

  10. bodydetox says:

    my iPhone was actually a gift from my girlfriend. i really love this phone and i think that this is the best phone that money can buy. i like the features and the design.

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