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Apple's new third-generation iPhone SE is equipped with the "toughest glass in a smartphone" on the front and back, a change that's designed to make the device better hold up to drops and scratches.

iphone-se-drop-test.jpg

Allstate Protection Plans this week put Apple's claims to the test with a series of controlled drops, and found that the third-generation iPhone SE does indeed appear to be more durable than the prior model and nearly as durable as the iPhone 13.

The iPhone SE survived a six-foot fall in the face down drop test onto a sidewalk, with the device ending up with only minor scuffing, identical to the iPhone 13. Notably, the iPhone SE has a tougher glass, but it does not feature the same Ceramic Shield front glass as the iPhone 13 models.

In a back down drop test, the iPhone SE cracked after a 6-foot fall, likely because it does not have the same flat aluminum siding as the iPhone 13. The iPhone SE survived the six-foot side down drop test with just minor scuffing on its aluminum frame, again putting it on par with the iPhone 13.

Allstate Protection Plans also did a 30-minute dunk test to check on the IP67 water resistance rating. It was able to withstand one meter of water for 30 minutes with no problem, and while there was some audio muffling right after it was pulled out, it was back to normal after an hour.

Drop tests are variable and the results that are ultimately seen in the real world could vary because drop damage will depend on the drop height, surface an iPhone is dropped onto, and the angle that the smartphone falls out.

iPhone SE users should use caution and avoid drops, with protective cases employed to keep the all-glass device safe.

Article Link: New iPhone SE Nearly as Tough as iPhone 13 in Drop Test Thanks to Improved Glass
 
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Mr. Dee

macrumors 68040
Dec 4, 2003
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You gotta be extra clumsy to have your phone end up looking like that. Had my iPhone X for nearly 5 years and one of the best investments I made was buying an Apple leather case for it. I’ve had fall out of my pocket while sitting onto the floor or fly off my bed and not a scratch. But I could never have it end up looking like this.
 
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Return Zero

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2013
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1) WTF is a "controlled drop"? Exactly how many variables are they actually controlling?

2) Why would I care about a "controlled drop" test result anyway when every time I drop my phone it is due to an unpredicted lack of control?

(PS - I'm not saying these tests are entirely useless... just wanting people to stop pretending to be so scientific about them)
 

arlomedia

macrumors member
May 5, 2021
62
64
I couldn't tell from the article how many phones were tested or how many times each test was repeated. To make the results more accurate, I expect they would have to repeat each test with multiple phones and average the results. At least an insurance company has an incentive to get accurate results, assuming they're using this info to set rates.
 
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HMWausau

macrumors newbie
Mar 22, 2022
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Controlled drop means it's dropped from the same height at the same angle onto the same surface. Generally speaking, it can help determine relative results to expect from different devices.

Different test drop angles, heights, and surfaces dropped on can give you a rough idea of what you expect your device to be able to handle in real world scenarios.

Yes, it IS a very scientific way to predictably determine how a phone might behave, especially if the controlled drops are set in a way to mimmic typical real world scenarios.

Eg, a drop from 5-6 feet is a pretty common occurrence. The phone will typically land on the face of the screen, or one of the corners or be rotating and impact multiple ways. No, you can't predict EXACTLY how it will land, but getting multiple scenarios is the science.

A fling out of a slingshot is a much less likely scenario, and as such that testing is more for fun than testing real world behavior.
 

Danfango

macrumors 6502a
Jan 4, 2022
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London, UK
Is there a more scientific way to test this?

Yes. You have to perform the test on many many devices and record all observations and you have to qualify each device independently.

Many years ago I worked for a company that tested the ruggedised equipment for missile targeting systems. Every single device manufactured was tested for vibration and drop resistance, water ingress and temperature cycling for several hours. The drop test was limited to 50cm but performed over 100 times per unit in a tumbler. After that it was sent out to the field.

I could genuinely see an iPhone surviving this fine and I am 100% sure that they do this testing on a sample of devices during the lifecycle of the device design.

I would however not trust that every iPhone is exactly equal due to manufacturing tolerances and differing assembly lines and Apple do not test every device like this for sure.

I would also assume you couldn't drop a targeting computer from head height and it'd still work fine.

YMMV!

Dropping a phone on YT only has a connection to the loosely defined social science of attention whoring.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Westmere
Jul 12, 2016
37,608
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These damage tests are so overwhelmingly useless, because as the article states, it depends on so many factors.
Yup.

-Velocity Rate of fall

-Angle in which phone lands on (I.e-Corner, face down, ect…)

-Surface type phone lands on.

-Was a case used/not used.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Westmere
Jul 12, 2016
37,608
42,264
Is there a more scientific way to test this?
Yes.

Start at the top of a three story building, drop phone onto hard concrete surface and retrieve phone to find results.

That’s about as a scientific as any ‘drop test’ can be, without achieving actual real world results from various scenarios.
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
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where hip is spoken
1) WTF is a "controlled drop"? Exactly how many variables are they actually controlling?

2) Why would I care about a "controlled drop" test result anyway when every time I drop my phone it is due to an unpredicted lack of control?

(PS - I'm not saying these tests are entirely useless... just wanting people to stop pretending to be so scientific about them)
1 - controlled drop... method used for dropping the device, the height, and other environmental conditions.
2 - if you don't want to care, you don't have to. For some of us, these controlled drop experiments helps us to compare how one device fares versus another. Very similar to NTHSA crash testing of cars.
 

AmazeSE

macrumors regular
Oct 30, 2017
148
871
1 - controlled drop... method used for dropping the device, the height, and other environmental conditions.
2 - if you don't want to care, you don't have to. For some of us, these controlled drop experiments helps us to compare how one device fares versus another. Very similar to NTHSA crash testing of cars.
Yeah, People always check drop tests before they buy phones ?. Almost everyone I know did :p . It's also very reliable as the results from every drop test conducted by different people/agencies will be different ;).

Comparing car crash tests to phone drop tests is kinda stupid.... and doesn't make sense. :rolleyes: They are very different things and cannot be compared.
 

BeefCake 15

macrumors 68000
May 15, 2015
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Yes. You have to perform the test on many many devices and record all observations and you have to qualify each device independently.

Many years ago I worked for a company that tested the ruggedised equipment for missile targeting systems. Every single device manufactured was tested for vibration and drop resistance, water ingress and temperature cycling for several hours. The drop test was limited to 50cm but performed over 100 times per unit in a tumbler. After that it was sent out to the field.

I could genuinely see an iPhone surviving this fine and I am 100% sure that they do this testing on a sample of devices during the lifecycle of the device design.

I would however not trust that every iPhone is exactly equal due to manufacturing tolerances and differing assembly lines and Apple do not test every device like this for sure.

I would also assume you couldn't drop a targeting computer from head height and it'd still work fine.

YMMV!

Dropping a phone on YT only has a connection to the loosely defined social science of attention whoring.
This comment should be pinned.

this-guy-knows-what-hes-talking-about.jpg
 

Return Zero

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2013
1,055
2,870
Kentucky
1 - controlled drop... method used for dropping the device, the height, and other environmental conditions.
2 - if you don't want to care, you don't have to. For some of us, these controlled drop experiments helps us to compare how one device fares versus another. Very similar to NTHSA crash testing of cars.
I guess what I'm thinking is that things like NTHSA tests have such precise/actual control... If these phone tests actually controlled point/area/angle of impact, velocity, rotation, wind, surface characteristics ("concrete" or "asphalt" have so many variables in and of themselves), etc... I would find them much more usable in terms of cross-shopping.
 
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CarlJ

Contributor
Feb 23, 2004
6,345
11,010
San Diego, CA, USA
1) WTF is a "controlled drop"? Exactly how many variables are they actually controlling?

2) Why would I care about a "controlled drop" test result anyway when every time I drop my phone it is due to an unpredicted lack of control?

(PS - I'm not saying these tests are entirely useless... just wanting people to stop pretending to be so scientific about them)
The point isn't that, "your drop might be controlled so let's try a controlled drop" (which is what you seem to be reacting against in particular), it's that they're doing repeatable drops. Like, "we drop every phone we test under the same repeatable circumstances (height, angle, surface, ambient temperature, etc.)". As an insurance company, they already have plenty of data in their files saying "we get claims on (X) phone at (Y) rate per number of policies issued".

They're testing this year's phones against last years phones, and other models of phones, using the same repeatable circumstances. If they were to find that, hmm, "new model (X) is 20% more likely to break than older model (Y)" in our tests, and they know how many claims they got on model Y, and how many policies they wrote on model Y (and thus what percentage of policies got a claim), then they can predict how likely they are to get claims on new model X. And this lets them adjust the rates they charge for insuring model X accordingly.

If they tested new phone X by just randomly flinging it over their shoulder, how would they correlate the results against the results they got for last year's model Y? What if they had randomly flung it a little higher, or lower, or harder, or softer, or so it landed differently, than last year? Then they couldn't reasonably compare the results. So, it's quite important to them (bottom line and everything) to test each phone in as close to the same way as possible. They likely have a test rig that can drop a phone in various carefully controlled attitudes (face down, face up, various edges down, on a corner, at various angles, etc), from various carefully controlled heights, onto various carefully controlled surfaces. They may also control for weather conditions (temperature, humidity), as some materials are more likely to shatter at lower temperatures (for instance). And they make notes on what settings they used for everything (and precisely how much and what kinds of damage resulted - which would affect what kinds of repairs were necessary and how much they are likely to cost). So when they come back next year with the new model (or next week with a phone from a different company), they can test it in the same controlled, repeatable way.

The tests are highly useful to them, in predicting how much insuring a given phone model is likely to cost them. The results are interesting to us in a more general way (phone X smashes very easily, phone Y is surprisingly resistant to breakage), and they likely release the information to the public because it generates positive press about their company/brand, and because it might put the notion in a few people's minds that they could insure their phone with this company. They already did the tests for their own use - releasing a summary of the results is free advertising at that point.

Then again, there are also a bunch of idiots on YouTube, who buy and drop brand new phones who are simply doing the calculation, "hey, if I do this, I'm likely to get advertising revenue that is substantially more than the cost of the phone, and it promotes my channel", with no intentions of using the data itself for any useful purpose. Just page views. Those folks are generally not using controlled, repeatable tests.
 
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CarlJ

Contributor
Feb 23, 2004
6,345
11,010
San Diego, CA, USA
6ft? What are they doing to have a phone that high and dropping it? My pockets and hands are nowhere near 6ft.
You generally don't start with 6 feet. You start with a much lower height and try dropping it in a variety of orientations onto a variety of surfaces. When it survives the lower tests, you move up to increasingly higher drops. Until either you exceed your test range, or the phone breaks. Depends on how rigorous their testing needs are (Apple, for instance, probably drops a lot of phones, to destruction, under all sorts of conditions). Sorry if the testing that this company did, on their dime, doesn't fit your needs. You can conduct your own tests if you want.

Also, do you ever hold your phone up to your ear? While standing up? In the case of many of us, that would be approaching six feet off the ground. If you're a basketball fan as your name implies, you've probably seen numerous people whose ears are more than six feet off the ground. In any case, holding a phone up to your ear, maybe with sweaty hands, or trying to cradle it between your ear and a shoulder for a moment, gives plenty of scenarios where a phone could be realistically dropped from close to six feet above the ground under typical use.
 
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kevinws

macrumors member
Jun 16, 2007
74
54
O'Fallon, MO
6ft? What are they doing to have a phone that high and dropping it? My pockets and hands are nowhere near 6ft.
As someone who works in maintenance I am on ladders and lifts all the time. I have dropped my phone from greater distances. They are always in a case. Never cracked a screen from a ladder or lift drop.
 
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