UPDATE: This post has been edited for statistical clarity.
iPhones fail at roughly half the rate of Blackberry smartphones after one year of operation, according to a study by Square Trade research. Square Trade, a company that sells add-on warranties covering electronic devices beyond their manufacturer warranty periods, looked at the failure rates of 15,000 phones covered under its plans. According to their data, the malfunction rate for iPhones after one year is 5.6 percent, compared to 11.2 percent for the Blackberry and 16.2 percent for the Treo.
The study projects the failure rate for the iPhone after two years will be between 9.2 and 11.3 percent, compared to actual two-year failure rates of 14.3 percent for BlackBerries and 21.0 percent for Treos.
Of course, the sample size producing these numbers is a tiny fraction of the millions of smartphones on the market and may or may not be a truly accurate picture of the actual failure rates of the three kinds of phone.
Interestingly, the study found neither battery life nor call quality problems to be major issues for the iPhones that did fail. As was true with all three models in the study, the predominance of failure-related issues had to do with the touchscreen interface.
One area where iPhone does appear to lag its two main competitors is in failure due to accident: 12 percent of iPhone failures happen because the owner drops it, spills liquid on it, or otherwise stops treating it like the sensitive mobile computing device it is.