The iPhone 4′s design was heavily criticized over the use of chemically strengthened glass for its enclosure. The pundits typically highlight a zero percent probability of the device landing on the “right” side in an unfortunate event of slipping out of your sweaty hands onto the pavement. Whichever way you look at it, both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have questionable droppability compared to other handsets using chassis engineered around the usual metal + plastic + glass combo.
The folks over at SquareTrade took an iPhone 4S for a spin and pitted it against Samsung’s Galaxy S II to see which one survives a waist high and shoulder high drop. As you can see in the above clip, Apple’s latest and greatest handset was pretty badly damaged from the outside, just like its predecessor. It did, however, fare pretty well landing on its stainless steel band. Dropped face down, however, the iPhone 4S’s screen completely shattered. Samsung’s device didn’t suffer nearly as much damage (note that being light weight is probably a factor).
In addition, the plastic back on the Samsung device has gotta be more prone to surviving the shock of a sudden impact compared to glass. By the way, if you’re concerned about your iPhone’s droppability, head over to 9to5Toys and get yourself a great case. SquareTrade is an independent warranty provider cover nearly everything – excluding, of course, intentional damage shown in the clip. Hop over to their web site for more information.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber summed up nicely the problem with the iPhone 4′s easily breakable all-glass design. For those who don’t recall Gruber’s comment, here’s a thought he shared shortly after the device had gone on sale in the summer of 2010:
For obvious reasons, the glass back raises concerns about the iPhone 4’s droppability. With previous iPhones, it was like dropping a piece of buttered toast — there was a lucky and unlucky side on which it could land. With the iPhone 4, it’s like dropping a piece of toast that’s been buttered on both sides.