Apple's iPhone: So Far, the Best Phone Ever?

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The iPhone is having a stellar year. First, it blasts past RIM's Blackberry in sales. Then it ousts Motorola's RAZR as the top-selling handset of all time. And, now a report from mobile phone warranty firm SquareTrade says that Apple's iPhone is the most reliable smartphone on the market, surpassing both Blackberrys and Palm Treos.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
SquareTrade's tests were conducted on 15,000 phones covered by company warranty. In its first year, the Blackberry has a failure rate double that of the iPhone. The iPhone's failure rate was listed at 5.6 percent, compared to 11.9 percent for the Blackberry and 16.2 percent for the Treo.

At the time of the study, the iPhone was 15 months old, and SquareTrade was unable to say with certainty how the phone would perform an extra year out. The company's projections of how the phone would perform two years in, however, still have the iPhone skidding in below the Treo's and Blackberry's numbers by a considerable margin: 11.3 percent compared to the Blackberry's 14.3 percent and the Treo's 21 percent.

The study focused on handset malfunctions and not accidental damage caused by the consumer, though. And accidental damage is where the iPhone trips up. Due to its sleek, slippery design, the iPhone fails due to accidental bang-ups 33 percent of the time. Twelve percent of iPhone owners reported accidental damage in comparison to the other two companies, which reported 9 percent. At least we know it's kind of our fault rather than the manufacturer's fault, though.

It's also important to note that SquareTrade did not take into consideration malfunctions that would be covered by software and/or firmware updates, so all those early-on 3G and battery issues were not a part of the study.

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