Apple’s New iPhones Top Major Android Phone Competitor for Durability
Most of the Apple fans around the world who are just getting their hands on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus this weekend are probably taking extra care when handling their new devices. After all, while the entry-level 16GB iPhone 6 version starts at $199 with a two-year service contract, a contract-free 128GB iPhone 6 will put you out at least $849. And that’s just for the smaller, 4.7-inch size of Apple’s two new iPhone models. At $949, the cost of a contract-free 128GB iPhone 6 Plus will easily top $1,000 with sales tax. And that’s not even looking at the thriving gray market, where resellers are demanding prices as high as $5,200 for an unlocked 64GB iPhone 6 Plus.
But despite the limited supplies of the new iPhone models and the opportunity to make a substantial profit in the gray market, there are some new iPhone owners who are deliberately destroying their devices in the name of science. Warning: The above video may cause some iPhone shoppers psychological distress. As seen in the video above, researchers at extended warranty service provider SquareTrade recently put both the new iPhone models through a rigorous series of tests designed to measure exactly how much abuse the devices can handle. As a company that sells extended warranties for electronic gadgets like the iPhone, SquareTrade has a vested interest in making sure that its durability test is as accurate as possible.
Using robots for consistency, the researchers performed multiple stress tests on the new iPhone models, including a slide test, a water resistance test, and a drop test. In the slide test, which is intended to measure the likelihood of a device sliding off a table and onto the floor, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 performed slightly better than the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, which slid further due to its heavier weight (129 grams versus 172 grams).
Both devices were also submerged in shallow water for 10 seconds while playing a video. Although both models temporarily lost audio, the sound returned after a few minutes out of the water. While Apple’s devices aren’t advertised as waterproof, researchers at repair firm iFixit recently discovered that both of the new models now feature rubber gaskets around the power and volume buttons, which likely increases the devices’ overall resistance to water and dust.
Finally, the researchers at SquareTrade dropped each device six times from a height of four feet. The iPhone 6 emerged from this test relatively unscathed, with just a few nicks and scratches. On the other hand, the researchers found that the iPhone 6 Plus began to lose its back casing after six drops, and the audio on the device stopped working about 30 minutes after the test. The researchers noted that the large size of the iPhone 6 Plus naturally makes it harder for many users to grip.
Based on the tests, the researchers awarded each device a “Breakability Score” from one to 10, with one being the best, or least breakable, and 10 being the worst, or most breakable. The iPhone 6 garnered a Breakability Score of four (medium risk) and the iPhone 6 Plus earned a similarly respectable score of five (medium risk). The SquareTrade researchers noted that both devices are more durable than any previous iPhone models. According to a previous durability test cited by The Associated Press, the iPhone 5S scored a six. The researchers also praised the iPhone 6’s performance in the drop test by pointing out that it did better than any other smartphone they have ever tested.
The screens for both of Apple’s new devices remained unbroken after SquareTrade’s drop test. While some industry analysts expected at least some of the new iPhones to feature stronger, sapphire-covered displays, it appears that the so-called “strengthened Ion-X glass” used by Apple is still durable enough to resist cracking from multiple four-foot drops.
Perhaps even more importantly for Apple, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus outranked the flagship device from its biggest competitor: Samsung. According to The Associated Press, Samsung’s 5.1-inch Galaxy S5 ranked worse, with a Breakability Score of 6.5. “The phones are getting more and more durable,” SquareTrade Chief Marketing Officer Ty Shay told The Associated Press. “Manufacturers are paying more attention.” Thanks to the increased durability of the new iPhone models, Apple users may be able to pay a little less attention to how carefully they handle their phones.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS