We subjected our brand new iPhone X to a scratch-and-drop test to determine how much this glass and stainless steel phone can handle.
If you just spent $1,000 or more on an iPhone X, put a case on it now!
Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone has a slick new look with a nearly bezel-less screen, glass back, and stainless steel frame. Just like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the glass back allows the X to have wireless charging– but it also means you now have two breakable surfaces to worry about.
What you might not know: damaging the iPhone X could be far more painful. Not only does the phone cost more, to begin with, but repairing an X will also cost more than previous models. If you haven’t spent the extra for a good case. Do so now!
So should you be worried? To find out, we subjected a pair of brand-new iPhone X handsets to a few durability tests.
Most iPhone screens are prone to scratches, but with glass on either side, the iPhone X has more potential surface area to scratch. But the stainless steel frame should, in theory, be tougher to scuff than the aluminum on previous models.
First I tried to do some damage with a house key, probably the most serious offender when it comes to scratches. For this test, I used both Space Gray and Silver variants of the iPhone X to see if color made any difference in how obviously the scratch showed up.
I rubbed the key across the glass back of both phones repeatedly, applying medium pressure, but was not able to produce any visible damage. The same goes for the stainless steel frame. But when I rubbed the glass with medium grain sandpaper, the scratches were visible and slightly more pronounced on the Space Gray version. Doing the same on the stainless steel frame left no visible scuffs.
When I turned over the phones though, I noticed their screens already had some additional tiny dents and scratches just from rubbing up against the ceramic surface I was testing them on. The key test didn’t do much, and the sandpaper left a similar mark as on the back glass.
Drop Test 1
Next, I took our Space Gray iPhone X out to the sidewalk in front of our office: a place where many screens have met their doom.
Like our drop tests for the iPhone 8, our first drop was from 3 feet (0.9 m), or about pocket height for most people.
The back hit first, but it then did a small flip and landed screen-side down with the back facing me so I could see the damage immediately. The glass from three of the four corners cracked at different degrees of severity and scuffed up the side of the camera mount. The bottom right-hand corner took the biggest hit and had the largest fracture flanking the corner. Even the stainless steel on the frame looked chipped on this side where the phone hit the floor. The top right corner also had a small tear and scuff on the frame, and another tiny bump on the bottom left-hand corner of the glass.
Not good considering it was the first drop.
Drop Test 2
Next, I dropped the iPhone X from the same height (3 ft), but this time face-down. It landed almost flat on the screen and didn’t flip over.
I could see even deeper fractures extending diagonally across the entire back of the phone from the impact. As soon as I turned it over, I noticed new cracks on the bottom edge of the screen. The worst dent was on the bottom right-hand corner, probably where it hit first. I ran my finger on the circular dent where it hit and felt a few tiny shards fall off the edge. The cracks radiated out from this point rebounding onto another scuff on the bottom of the screen closer to the left-hand corner.
Once I turned off the screen, I noticed an additional hairline fracture running from the bottom left where the second scuff was almost to the top of the phone. Everything still worked fine, but this iPhone X definitely looked banged up.
The iPhone X can probably handle your everyday wear and tear, but dropping it without a case is out of the question. We learned it only takes one bad drop to break the glass on this phone. Even the stainless steel frame is susceptible to damage.
“The new iPhone is designed to be durable, but not indestructible, and goes through rigorous real-world testing. iPhone X is made from the most durable glass ever in a smartphone with a 50 percent deeper strengthening layer using our dual ion-exchange process, further reinforced by an internal laser welded, steel, and copper structure. And the surgical-grade stainless steel band that wraps around and reinforces iPhone X is a special Apple-designed alloy that is both durable and pure. If anyone is concerned about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we suggest using one of the many beautiful cases available to protect the iPhone.”
Is the iPhone X more fragile than past iPhones? Tough to say, because none of our tests are scientific, but the price you pay for this phone and for any potential repairs makes the risk of dropping it a lot worse.