iPad Air 2: Cracking the case of the defective screen

During WWDC 2015, Apple announced some incredible new features of iOS 9, especially when it came to iPad performance, particularly the iPad Air 2. At the time of the announcement, I owned two iPad Mini's and that just was not going to cut it for me, as I wanted to test the full features of iOS 9 in Beta. So, in July I went and purchased a brand new iPad Air 2 white 64 GB wi-fi with LTE. I was beyond excited and eager to get the beta on it ASAP. Everything went beautifully and I was beyond impressed with the features, performance, how light the device was, and how bright and crisp the images were. However, the excitement would not last long. First, lets discuss how Apple managed to decrease the weight of the iPad Air 2. This is attributed to the change in screen design. Previous iPads have a tiny space between screen layers; the iPad Air 2 screens are fused together. The layers that make up the LCD, touchscreen, digitizer, and backlight are now completely fused together and lack that space of air between them. Sure, the display is less reflective and brighter, but does it indeed make it "better"?

Given that iPad sales are at a decline, I myself am inclined to believe that there is a very high possibility that there are certain design flaws, particularly this new change in screen design that is yet to be fully discovered. I don't feel that there are enough iPad Air 2 owners to have set off the Apple engineering alarms yet, but that all may be about to change as the new iOS 9 is to be fully released in less than a week and people may opt to upgrade just get the full features. However, BUYER BEWARE because there may be a problem with iPad Air 2 screens. I purchased my iPad Air 2 on July 17, 2015 and by August 22, 2015 I experienced my first problem with the device - a hairline crack that went from the home button upwards towards the edge of the iPad midway. 

When you run your finger over the hairline crack, you can't feel anything at all, which clearly means that this is below the surface of the screen. I immediately set an appointment to take it in to the Apple Store to have it replaced, which they did without any hassles whatsoever. Upon inspecting the device, they saw that it had never been dropped or mishandled - it was flawless with the exception of the screen. So, I go home thinking that I just had the misfortune of getting a defective one and the problem was resolved. Well, that was not the case. Come August 3rd, I remove my iPad Air 2 from my charging dock (I use a Quirky dock) where I charge the iPad, my bluetooth, and iPhone 6 Plus and notice that the bottom corner of the iPad has a hairline crack on the bottom right corner; same as the one before. 

The crack is below the surface, I can't feel it when I run my finger over it, only this time it's a bit smaller and it does not come from the home screen. 

Again, I immediately set up an appointment with Apple to take it back in for replacement. However, one can imagine my concern being that it hasn't even been 2 weeks and I am back in the store with the same issue. So, I contact Apple Support to advise them of my issue and, of course, my concern regarding the Air 2. I speak to a very nice gentleman who happens to be a Carpe Facto Advisor. I never knew this department even existed but apparently, his job is to collect as much information regarding the issue and reporting this back to the engineering department. I will say, he definitely did do this. He requested pictures, amount of usage time, where I take it, what case I use, what charging dock I use, etc. And, according to this associate, this is how they determine any flaws that need to be corrected or perhaps fully replacing devices. He did state that there weren't enough reports regarding the Air 2 screens to alarm Apple, but my guess would be that not enough have sold to really gather as much data necessary to fully raise red flags. Now, for those wondering what case I use, since he did ask, I use a Kamor canvas and fabric sleeve. When it is not in here, it is either in my hands or on the charging dock. Otherwise, it is in this sleeve at all times. This is the case with all my previous iPads and I have never experienced any issues. 

With all this said, is it possible that Apple's new design to further decrease weight and make the iPad Air 2 slimmer a complete design flaw? Is it possible that fusing the LCD, touchscreen, digitizer, and backlight have created weak spots on the display and compromised structural integrity? You no longer have parts moving independently of one another, with the ability to sustain greater impact. Even the bezel/casing of the Air 2 is all fused into one piece, which isn't a surprise but may, again, be the cause of the issue given the changes to the display design. I also wonder how much "real world" testing is done on these devices. I know that prior to release, there are a select few that get to test these products in the real world, but statistically, is the amount of people or even the testers themselves representative of the true population that will be purchasing these devices and using them in the real world? Regardless of these questions and what the answers might be, it is comforting to know that my device will be replaced this Thursday and that there is a department that will actually speak to consumers and go on a fact-finding mission to assure that their company continues to make the best products in the market. Let's face it, they can't all be winners, but at least they listen and improve on what is already a great product. As for what my next case will look like.....

Do I like it? Absolutely NOT! It's hideous and bulky. However, I figure that I should take extra precaution in the event that this happens yet a third time, at least I can say I have tried it all. It's unfortunate that I have to take what is the slimmest tablet and make it bulky once again just to protect the display - something I never had to do with my iPad 1, iPad 2, both iPad Mini's or any of my iPhones....not even my Apple watch, which gets a lot of use. 

What do you think is causing the display hairline cracks in the iPad Air 2? Please share your experience, comments, thoughts, or ideas with us.