The New iPhones Are Still Very Breakable, According to New Drop Tests

As Apple continues to one-up itself every year or so with a slate of wildly powerful new phones packed with occasionally game-changing technology, it hasn't figured out how to out-engineer gravity just yet. Phones still fall from pockets and hands, and from beds and desks, only to have their screens cracked or shattered when they meet the cold kiss of concrete.

However, the company claims its latest two flagship phones -- the iPhone XS and XS Max -- are protected with "the most durable smartphone glass in the world." But just how durable is that glass when put to the test of everyday fumbles and falls? Rather than find out the hard way for yourself, a number of experts have already gone through the trouble of testing how they hold up, and we've assembled some of the most revealing insights.

Spoiler alert: investing in a phone case for these guys wouldn't be the worst idea.

They're stronger than the iPhone X, but still very much breakable

Most tests found the new devices to be more resilient against smacking into the ground than their predecessor, the iPhone X, but they also discovered their screens were still no match for falls from head-height. The folks at SquareTrade dropped both from six feet at various angles, and almost every time it resulted it some sort of damage. Specifically, the XS was rendered unusable when its screen shattered after hitting concrete on the front and back (the XS Max cracked in certain spots, but was still usable). However, they found that the steel frame prevented damage when dropped on the side. 

In another drop test from TechSmart, the XS and XS Max fared a bit better, surviving drops from both three and six feet. However, when dropped from roughly 10 feet, the XS Max screen's not only cracked significantly, but the device itself (and the screen) started glitching badly. 

It probably still depends on how your phone lands

As has been the case since the iPhone made its debut, the way in which it drops still has a big impact on how it's going to fare. As the EverythingApplePro tests showed, the XS and XS Max were left undamaged when they fell on their side or back from waist heights, but the XS's front screen shattered when it hit face down. Both endured some pretty extreme damage when dropped from 10 feet, but they were both still usable (except Face ID stopped working). 

Still, the team at CNET found the new Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which covers both of the new iPhones, to be quite resilient after they dropped them four times apiece onto a sidewalk and found them nearly unscathed save for a few dents and scrapes.

They're still very susceptible to scratching

While the new Gorilla Glass may prevent the XS and XS Max from shattering under some circumstances, it can still be scratched relatively easily. JerryRigsEverything put both through a comprehensive "scratch test" by testing them against elements of various hardness, and found the screens to be affected when nicked by an object at level 6 on the hardness scale (diamonds, for comparison, are level 15). That's pretty good, considering it's just glass, but the test also seemed to debunk Apple's claim that its camera lenses are protected by sapphire. In fact, when tested, the lenses scratched at the same level as the rest of the glass. 

But, they're beer-proof!

Apple has described both the XS and XS Max as liquid-proof, even against beer. So, to see if that claim checks out, SquareTrade went through the trouble of dunking both in five feet of beer, and they each passed with flying colors. 

And while it's nice to know they can take a beer bath unscathed, the rest of these tests seem to suggest that you'd be wise to wrap your new $1,000 pocket computer in some sort of case if you don't want to experience the potential horror of having it accidentally shatter at your feet. 

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.