Apple's new iPad is as fragile as its predecessor

Warranty provider notes similarities in case design, glass used in new model and the iPad 2 (see video below)

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Tseng noted that Corning's stronger Gorilla Glass 2, which the company introduced last January at the Consumer Electronics Show, may be used in the new iPad at some point.

But Apple's claims that thinner aluminosilicate glass is ultra-durable just doesn't match SquareTrade's data, what with iPad 2 owners filing three-and-a-half times more damage reports. "I don't know if [Apple's] claim holds up to reality," said Tseng.

On the other hand, non-accidental claims for the iPad 2 -- parts failure of some kind -- were extremely rare, said Tseng. In the first year of coverage, just 0.3% of iPad 2 owners, or 3 out of 1,000, filed a malfunction claim, compared to 0.9% of first-generation iPad owners.

Those numbers were a fraction of the claim rates posted by other devices, such as smart phones (with a first-year claim rate of 3.4%) and laptops (4.5%).

"In general, man, has Apple gotten good at producing electronics," said Tseng about the iPad's low failure rate.

The jury is still out, of course, on the new iPad. But one possible red flag, said Tseng, is higher temperatures generated by the tablet. "If the new iPad is heating up, that could affect the durability of the internal components over time," he said.

Apple has denied that the new iPad overheats.

SquareTrade faces new competition from Apple in the warranty business: Apple just added accidental damage coverage to its two-year AppleCare plan for the iPad. An iPad owner is allowed to file two accident claims during the life of the warranty, with each subject to a $49 service fee.

AppleCare for the iPad costs $99.

"It's good that Apple is finally addressing accidents," said Tseng. "But it's most useful to people who live in close proximity of an Apple store."

SquareTrade has dropped its two-year warranty price to $89 to stay competitive with AppleCare, and offers a three-year plan for $119. Like Apple, it levies a $49 fee -- SquareTrade calls it a deductible -- for each accident claim.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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