Mobile devices are not only dynamic devices that we use to communicate and interact with the world, they are also slick status symbols. When somebody is sitting on a bench or the subway reading an iPad, you notice. Maybe even with a touch of envy. It is easy to forget that while these shiny, glowing status symbols are cool, they are also built out of plastic, metal and glass. Plastic melts, metal bends, glass breaks.
There is nothing worse than seeing a friend trying to read an article on an iPad with a broken screen. You feel bad for them, like their puppy just died. "It was an accident," they say. Independent mobile warranty provider SquareTrade predicts that those types of accident will occur more often, with near 20% of iPad users reporting accidental damage within two years of owning their iPad 2s. Overall, iPad 2s are 3.5 times more likely to have accidental damage than the original.
The good news for iPad owners is that over the course of the last year, only 0.3% of iPad 2 and 0.9% of iPad 1 owners reported non-accidental damage or malfunctions of their devices. Of those issues, power and battery life were the main complaints. That can likely be chalked up to a margin of error in the manufacturing process (try as they may, not all devices are perfect out of the factory). Basically, unless you drop your device or it suffers from some other malady, your iPad should be perfectly fine.
And suffer it can. The majority of accidental damage that SquareTrade warranty holders reported were cracked or shattered touch screens. That is to be expected. People drop things. Some of the weirder reports that SquareTrade saw were iPads being vomited on, being thrown out of moving cars and being urinated on by a cat.
Unlike smartphones, iPads tend to be relatively impervious to liquid damage. Only 1% of accidental damage reported to SquareTrade was because of liquid. From personal experience, most liquid has no affect on Apple's tablet, be it rain or drops of water when sitting next to a sink. An iPad would pretty much have to be dunked in a fishbowl to suffer significant water damage.
SquareTrade thinks that the iPad 2s smart cover may contribute to breakage. "Customers have reported using the smart cover to grab a falling device, only to have the cover - not intended as a fail-safe protector - come off the iPad 2," the report stated. Of protective covers that SquareTrade monitored, the iPad 2 had the worst rating when asked, "whether their protective case had protected their iPad from prior accidental damage."
This is one of the reasons that I chose not to get a smart cover. It just does not feel right. A slick black leather case does well for me, protecting my iPad against, well, me.
So, how will your third-generation iPad hold up? It is a thicker device and looks a lot like the iPad 2, but the device has been redesigned from the inside out so it is hard to tell whether or not it will be more susceptible to damage than previous versions. Will the vaunted "Retina Display" be more fragile than the iPad 2.
It also should be noted that SquareTrade is a small warranty provider. Its sample size is small in comparison with total number of iPads in the wild. What is the best advice for taking care of you iPad?
Don't drop it.
Top image courtesy Shutterstock.