iPhone 4S faces off against Samsung Galaxy S3 in drop test

iPhone 4S faces off against Samsung Galaxy S3 in drop test

Is your inner gadget sadist just dying to see an iPhone 4S pitted against the brand new Samsung Galaxy S3 in a drop test? If so, you're in luck -- and the two phones, decidedly, are not. SquareTrade, a third-party electronics warranty provider, did the deed and here are the results.

The display on the Android phone cracked after the first drop from ear height. Round two of having kids toss the phones into the air resulted only in the rear of the iPhone shattering, though the Samsung Galaxy S 3 didn't get too banged up. The third test took place with fresh phones being left on the top of a car as it sped away, and again, the Samsung Galaxy S3's screen shattered while the iPhone 4S looked nearly untouched.

While this might all just seem like wanton destruction of expensive high-end gadgets, SquareTrade was simply illustrating some of the more common situations where phones get busted. According to their data, one in two phones fail due to drops of some kind, while one in four smartphones owned by parents were busted by their children. One in 15 people have damaged their phones in and around a car.

The iPhone 4 got a lot of flak early on for having a a screen that shattered so easily, and though that's to be expected in such a compact frame, it's interesting to see how the next major smartphone manufacturer fares in these kinds of tests (as inconclusive and unscientific as they may be). I would be really curious to see how many of Samsung's other phones fare under the same conditions.

Maybe it's just dumb luck that the iPhone fared so well in this case, but personally, I've been pretty happy with the iPhone 4's build quality. Even without a case or a screen protector, I haven't had any lasting. noticeable damage on my handset. How has your iPhone handled getting banged up?  Have you had a better or worse time with other phones? Would you prefer investing in a case or a protection plan to keep your iPhone safe?

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

iPhone 4S faces off against Samsung Galaxy S3 in drop test


I've drop by BlackBerry a few dozen times without issue. The Berry before that, same deal. About 1 in 5 iPhone users I know have dropped their phone and cracked the screen. One Berry owner I know dropped his Bold the first day he got it and cracked the screen. It's luck of the draw, really, every user should buy a case and use a screen protector if they want to protect their phone. At least the all-glass ones need it IMHO.

Before even watching the video I knew how the test would end up. Not because the quality of the two devices, but the fact that it was posted on this blog meant that it had to be in favor of the iPhone.

Not a very accurate test as the actual impact was different for each of the tests, but it is just meant to sell third party warranty coverage. I do have to admit that my iPhone 4S, with only a rear and front protector, has taken some falls without sustaining any damage.

Dunno about a case, but a nice matte screen protector is going to add a lot of protection against cracking. I say that because I never use a case, always use a screen protector, do unspeakable horror to my phones, and never once cracked a screen. I'm molded by experience I guess.

I can honestly report that I have dropped my phone from various REASONABLE heights and have nothing to show for it except a hair-line notch on the metal that is only noticeable if you know where it is. I have no covers or protectors of any sort. Isn't the thing wrapped in Gorilla Glass, anyway?

I bought Lifeproof cases when I bought our iPhone 4S's. My lady really needs full protection. I WAS going to use that all the time but then I took some pictures where the lens cover diffused the light in an odd way. I'm a big picture taker (and I think I can be pretty careful with it) so that was a deal-breaker for me.
Besides, we have protection plans.
That said, I DO put my case back on whenever we're going to be exposed to water. It was GREAT at the pool. I got shots I'd never have had the balls to take otherwise.
One day, I'll have the guts to dunk it under the water and take shots there. I plan to do that on our next cruise excursion.

How many people have their phones without a case or screen protector?
Would like to have seen at least 1 drop with a case or screen protector?
There is also a large difference in the screen size which makes the test inconsistent.

What does the screen size have to do with it? That's the phone you would be dropping. It's top selling phone vs top selling phone not inch for inch glass vs plastic.

That was the first thing I noticed in the kid test. It landed almost 3 seconds later cause the kid threw it as hard as he could.

Had Samsung Galaxy s2 Dropped from shoulder height with Incipio feather case and Screen protector. Screen shattered. Now have I phone 4s with Vapor Pro Case two drops from car no issues. Most phones are too frail to not have decent protection. Even though I have apple care I want my phone to look clean and not hassle with deductible and claims.

I have dropped my iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4S numerous times from about chest height. Some phones were in cases and some were not. None were damaged in the least until the 4S in a case with a screen protector fell out of my pocket getting out of the car (a distance of about 14 inches) onto pavement and shattered the front glass! You just never know what combination of events will result in a failure.
Anyway, $80 and a couple of hours of surgery later, my iPhone has a new screen and is working fine. No biggie!

I dropped my iPhone 4s getting it out of my pocket, onto the cement front porch the first day I owned it. It cracked the glass back cover. I repaired the back glass, very easily actually, and have dropped it a few times since with no damage.

I've dropped blackberries, androids, and iPhone from various heights onto concrete an the only damage has been scratches and removable batteries pop out. It all depends how it hits.

wow... i was honestly expecting the iphone to be destroyed on every test and the GSIII to survive... but i was pleasantly surprised to see the iphone4S come out ahead!

bottom line, all phones these days are getting more fragile and power-hungry.
Back in the day, handhelds could last a couple days and were built like tanks. In durability, not size (except in some cases, which it was both)

No matter the case, it mostly matters how and where you drop it. I've seen iPhones, Droids and Berry's in otterbox cases with shattered screens because they were dropped on rocks, bigger stones, tree stumps, anywhere that isn't a level, flat surface. You aren't always going to drop your phone on a flat, level surface, which is why cases I think are overrated, screen protectors most definitely are.
I've dropped my iPhone 4 4 times in about a year from about chest high or ear high and no damage at all besides a couple scuffed up ends.. It all depends on how it lands.

I would think the Samsungs would be a bit more likely to break because they are more flexible. My HTC has a aluminum chassis that makes for a very stiff frame. Combined with the plastic back, it has proven to be durable. Still, the large glass screen means it wouldn't be that difficult to break, and to brag about how durable it is would seem ridiculous.
At some point people aren't going to put up with these easily shattered devices. They are too integral to our lives and too expensive to have to deal with that. My old Palm Centro with the plastic screen was far more durable than pretty much any smartphone out today. Sure, when it dropped the battery cover and battery would pop off and try to skitter away, but it took some real abuse and came through just fine.

It's confirmed by the users, Galaxy s3 is the most fragile Samsung smart phone so far!!Friend of mine dropped his s3 face down at 2 feet height...screen cracked!