Glass on back of iphones
Glass on back of iphones

When you pick up a modern iPhone, one of the first things you might notice is its sleek glass back. This design choice, while aesthetically pleasing, isn’t just for looks. It’s a functional decision that has evolved over the years as Apple’s technology has advanced. The earliest iPhones, like the iPhone, iPhone 3G and 3GS, didn’t feature a glass back; instead, they had a plastic cover glued to the phone’s metal chassis​​. For no “functional” reason Apple would put a back glass on the iPhone 4 series but then do away with it shortly after. The real adoption of the back glass was born from the addition of wireless charging support – launching with the iPhone 8 series.

Which iPhone Models Have A Back Glass?

iPhone ModelLaunch DateWireless Charging?
iPhone 4, 4sJune 29, 2010No
iPhone 8, 8 PlusSeptember 22, 2017Yes
iPhone XOctober 27, 2017Yes
iPhone XR, XS, XS MaxSeptember 21, 2018Yes
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro MaxSeptember 20, 2019Yes
iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro MaxOctober 23, 2020Yes
iPhone 13, 13 mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro MaxSeptember 24, 2021Yes
iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, 14 Pro MaxSeptember 16, 2022Yes
iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, 15 Pro MaxSeptember 22, 2023Yes

The Advent of Wireless Charging

A significant turning point in the design of iPhones was the introduction of wireless charging capabilities. Apple released its first iPhone with this feature, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, in 2017. Before this, wireless charging wasn’t a feature in earlier iPhone models​​. The glass back played a crucial role in enabling this new functionality.

Glass Backs for Enhanced Functionality

Apart from aesthetic appeal, the primary reason for the glass back in modern iPhones is to facilitate wireless charging. The iPhone X, alongside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, prominently features glass on both its front and back. This design is essential for the phone’s wireless (Qi) charging capabilities​​​​.

The Shift from iPhone 4 to Present Models

Apple was the pioneer in introducing glass backs with the iPhone 4. However, this feature was not consistently present in all subsequent models until the newer generations, which fully embraced the glass back design for both aesthetic and functional reasons​​.

Durability Concerns and Cost of Repair

While glass backs add functionality and style, they also bring durability concerns. Glass, being a fragile material, is prone to breaking upon impact. This vulnerability means that users need to be more careful with their devices. A shattered back glass without AppleCare+ protection can be costly to repair, with costs potentially reaching up to $549 plus tax​​.

Advancements in Glass Technology

To mitigate the fragility of glass, Apple has continuously worked on enhancing the durability of the glass used in their phones. The introduction of stronger, more resilient glass types in recent iPhone models shows Apple’s commitment to balancing functionality with durability.

The Debate: Glass vs. Other Materials

The choice of glass over other materials like metal or plastic is not just functional but also a design statement. Glass offers a premium look and feel that aligns with Apple’s brand identity. However, this choice does come with trade-offs in terms of durability and repair costs.

Consumer Preferences and Market Trends

The preference for glass backs also reflects broader market trends and consumer tastes. In a world where wireless technology is increasingly becoming the norm, glass backs are a forward-thinking design choice that aligns with the wireless future.

The Future of iPhone Design

Looking ahead, Apple’s design choices will likely continue to evolve. As technology advances, we can expect to see new materials and design innovations that further enhance the functionality and appeal of iPhones.


In conclusion, the glass back of iPhones is a design decision deeply rooted in functionality, specifically enabling wireless charging. It’s a testament to Apple’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of smartphone technology, even though it comes with certain drawbacks in terms of durability and repair costs. As Apple continues to innovate, the design and materials of iPhones will evolve, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of technology and consumer preferences.


Q1: When did Apple first introduce a glass back in iPhones? A1: Apple first introduced a glass back with the iPhone 4.

Q2: What is the primary purpose of the glass back in modern iPhones? A2: The primary purpose of the glass back in modern iPhones is to enable wireless (Qi) charging capabilities.

Q3: Are all modern iPhones equipped with a glass back? A3: Most modern iPhones have a glass back, although there are some exceptions.

Q4: What are the downsides of having a glass back on an iPhone? A4: The main downside is the increased fragility, leading to a higher risk of breakage and potentially costly repairs.

Q5: Has Apple made any advancements in the durability of the glass used in iPhones? A5: Yes, Apple has introduced stronger and more resilient types of glass in recent iPhone models to enhance durability.

Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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