Multiple users of the Huawei-built Google Nexus 6P have reported that the rear glass panel covering the smartphone’s camera has shattered spontaneously without explanation.
If this issue was affecting the iPhone, the “controversy” would be called Crackgate, Shattergate or some other equally snappy and pointless title, but as the problem affects a lesser known device, it has yet to attract a nickname. The Nexus 6P was launched by Google back in September and has received widespread critical praise. Over the weekend, however, a number of users have reported the same issue of the glass panel -- which covers the protruding camera enclosure on the rear -- shattering for no obvious reason.
Reddit user jonny rat first post a picture of his cracked Nexus 6P on Saturday, saying his phone “was sat on a table next to me when I heard the glass snap, leaving a little snowfall of shavings on the table under it. It’s now continuing to crack away to itself.”
Other Nexus 6P users responded by saying the same thing happened to them with some posting images showing remarkably similar problems -- including one user who said the issue had happened on the first night the phone was used.
One of the explanations Reddit commenters give for why this is happening is down to a rapid change in temperature: “I heard this a defect that happens when glass backs change temperature too quickly,” Reddit user Wojustng posts, adding that similar issues affected some of Sony’s Xperia models. Responding to this, jonny_rat said: “The temperature issue cited a few times seems the most likely cause, as it happened just after being placed on a cool surface after being used for a bit.”
The Nexus 6P is the first all-metallic Nexus smartphone and as metal contracts and expands in reaction to heat much more than plastic, it is no surprise that more glass panels are shattering. However, considering the number of all-metal phones on the market that don't shatter, it could be down to an issue at the engineering level where Huawei would have had to built in tolerances for such changes in temperatures.
Another suggestion given for the cause of the problem is down to the method used to temper the Gorilla Glass on the Nexus 6P rear cover. RedHeadedMenace explains:
[It] involves giving the glass ion baths to strengthen it. The strength comes at a cost though - due to the strong attraction of the glass particles to one another and compression of the whole, the glass develops lines of internal torque and stress, leading to explosive results if the glass is impacted or pressed from the wrong angle. Because most of the potential damage to your screen comes from the face of the glass, they temper it to resist head on impact, at the cost of durability in sheer impacts. To make up for this, most screens (including the 6P’s) have a very small plastic shock ring between the case and the screen. The visor does not appear to have one of these.
It is unclear just how widespread this issue is, and both Google and Huawei have yet to respond to requests from International Business Times for comment. However, it seems as if the problem could end up at the door of Huawei, if an email from Mobiles.co.uk, where jonny_rat bought his phone, is anything to go by:
“Thank you for your email regarding your handset. I am sorry to hear that your handset has been damaged, but this isn’t covered under your warranty. If you believe that it is a manufacturing fault, I would suggest contacting Huawei directly…and if this is an issue they are aware of, they should be able to help you.”
All rear covers that cracked spontaneously will be covered by the standard hardware warranty but the challenge for owners will be convincing Google and Huawei that the glass cover cracked of its own accord, and not as the result of the person dropping the phone.