Apple explains that the new iPhone is four times better protected against falls than its predecessor. Various drop tests on the Internet show whether this is true.
Nano-ceramic crystals in the glass of the iPhone 12 are supposed to protect the screen from falls much better, which is why it got the name “Ceramic Shield”. Apple developed the Ceramic Shield in collaboration with glass expert Corning, whose “Gorilla Glass” is used in most premium smartphones. However, the tempered glass only protects the screen. The same glass that sat on the front of the iPhone 11 is installed on the back.
New case contributes to the fall protection of the iPhone 12
Up until now, it was the case with iPhones that the screen was slightly spaced from the rest of the case in order to continue the curve of the edges. This means that any front impact hits the display glass first.
With the iPhone 12, however, the screen is completely embedded in the housing. The edge of the housing is therefore flush with the screen glass, so that it only comes into contact with the floor in the event of a direct impact on the front.
iPhone 12 and 12 Pro tested
As every year, various testers take it upon themselves to put the iPhone’s drop resistance to the test. As in 2019, TECHNOLOGY BUTTON again compared the results of the American technology portal “Cnet” and the YouTube channels “Phonebuff” and “Everythingapplepro”.
Last year, Cnet had used an elaborate test procedure with robotic arms in order to make results as comparable as possible. This year there is again the tried and tested hand drop test due to home office. Everythingapplepro also carries out the drop tests of the iPhone 12 manually.
The experimental setup of the YouTuber Phonebuff, however, includes the controlled dropping by a robot arm. This allows the iPhone to be dropped more specifically on the back and front – without jumping wildly from edge to edge.
Drop test from hip height
The first run looks similar for all three testers. You drop the iPhone from a height of approximately three feet (0.9 meters). This is roughly the same as hip height, making it a good example of what happens when the iPhone falls out of your pocket.
As in the previous year, the iPhones at Everythingapplepro are largely undamaged. However, the softer aluminum of the iPhone 12 is slightly bent. The steel frame of the iPhone 12 Pro is scratched, but otherwise undamaged. Nevertheless, the glass is not damaged on either the front or the back.
In the test with the Phonebuff robot arm, however, what happened with the iPhone 11 happens in the first run. The back of the iPhone 12 breaks even at the rather small drop height, while the iPhone 12 Pro survives the drop without damage. In both cases, however, there are clear scratches on the frame. The colleagues from Cnet, who only tested the iPhone 12, also found that the aluminum frame of the case on the front is a bit scratched. The fall on the underside also shattered the glass back of the iPhone.
The modified iPhone design shows its strengths especially when it is dropped on the front. Neither of the two models wears even the smallest scratch on the display. The Ceramic Shield is mainly protected by the metal frame around the screen. Both the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro show clear indentations from the fall. An indication that the metal frame absorbs most of the impact force.
Drop test from head height
The next run is a little different for the testers. Phonebuff simulates a fall from a height of 1.45 meters onto smooth concrete and steel surfaces. The displays in both iPhones survived the fall unscathed. After a total of 10 attempts from this height, there are still no breaks in the glass. However, the glass back of the iPhone 12 was still broken after the first test run. The camera is also affected, a break in the camera glass or the lens itself makes photos impossible.
Cnet and Everythingapplepro test the fall from head height (about 1.8 meters) in the second run. The iPhone 12 from Cnet has a few clear notches in the aluminum frame, but the front glass remains intact. The aluminum in the iPhone 12 from Everythingapplepro is also bent even more, the steel of the Pro only has paint chipped off. Both glass surfaces survive the fall, but on closer inspection it turns out that some pixels in the display of the iPhone 12 Pro are defective.
Drop test from a height of more than 2.7 meters
Cnet’s iPhone 12 also survived three more drops from 2.7 meters (9 feet) without further damage. The display works perfectly, only the back is a little bit more splintered.
When the iPhone 12 from Everythingapplepro was dropped from a height of three meters (10 feet) onto the lower edge of the case, the camera gave up its ghost. It is possible that the connector came loose due to the fall. Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro with the already dead pixels, which does not cause any additional damage. From the same height with the back facing down, the glass of both iPhones breaks and the case bends. The camera glass on the iPhone 12 Pro is completely destroyed and reveals the components underneath.
In the final test from three meters to the front, the iPhone 12 survived without damage to the screen. With the iPhone 12 Pro, the glass gives way and it breaks. Nevertheless, the display and touchscreen continue to work, so it can still be used.
Robust, but better than the iPhone 11?
The iPhone 11 from last year surprised us positively, as it was significantly more resistant than previous iPhones in the drop test. With the iPhone 12, Apple is positively continuing this trend. Like its predecessor, the iPhone 12 Pro’s screen is only broken when dropped from a height of three meters, which corresponds to almost a full floor. The display of the iPhone 12 got away with all three testers without damage. That could be because it’s about 15 grams lighter than the iPhone 12 Pro.
However, we have to take a troubling result from the tests. The iPhone 12 Pro already had pixel cracks in the display when it fell from head height. Nothing like this was seen on the iPhone 11. This could be a result of the even flatter screen that Apple built into the iPhone 12. Even if the Ceramic Shield glass is very resistant, users should still be careful with their expensive iPhones.