iPhone 15 Pro drop test videos tell us nothing about durability, but people will watch them anyway

An iPhone 15 Pro in pieces after being dropped
(Image credit: AppleTrack)

Apple's new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro lineups are here after their September 22 launch and people all around the world are enjoying their new handsets. Not everyone was lucky enough to get their phones on launch day thanks to what's likely to be a combination of strong demand and stock shortages. And some of those who were fortunate enough to get a new iPhone 15 Pro at launch decided that the best thing they could do with it was throw it on the floor.

So-called drop tests are nothing new. I've been writing about phones and technology for longer than I care to admit, and they've been around longer than that. Some of them are highly scientific and employ rigorous testing methods to ensure that their drops are repeatable and accurate. And the validity of even those tests can be questioned.

Other drop tests? Well, they consist of taking a new iPhone and repeatedly dropping it until it breaks. How that educates anyone is a matter for debate.

But y tho?

Dropping a $1,000 (or more) iPhone on the floor and watching it explode is nobody's idea of fun, whether it's your own pride and joy or someone on a YouTube video. Or is it?

For most people having their new iPhone turn into a pile of parts would be a pretty bad day, but not for YouTubers it would seem. I'm going to use an AppleTrack video as an example, but that's almost unfair. This is far from the only YouTube drop test video on the internet and it very much won't be the last. But it's the one that appeared in front of my eye balls today, so it's the one I'm going to link here.

And frankly, the idea of flying to Australia to take advantage of the time zone difference just to be one of the first to drop an iPhone on camera is peak YouTube.

In the video, we see an iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro dropped over and over under the pretense of testing the new titanium frame used in Apple's best iPhones. It's a frame that replaces the stainless steel of the iPhone 14 Pro, and Apple has indeed made noises about titanium being a more durable material.

The video's description suggests that the titanium construction is the target of the test, too. "I flew all the way to Australia to get the iPhone 15 early and drop test it vs the iPhone 14 Pro! And as it turns out...the titanium iPhone 15 Pro isn't as strong as I thought it would be," it reads.

Unfortunately, the result isn't great, although whether it's anything to do with the titanium is another matter entirely. You can watch the video above and as the image at the top of this post shows, the iPhone 15 Pro doesn't hold up that well. Or at least, it's back glass doesn't. Nor does the camera area which seemingly decided that it didn't want to be part of the iPhone anymore and wanted to start a new life for itself in the outbacks of Australia.

But what does any of this really tell us?

I'd posit that it tells us almost next to nothing. For starters, this is one iPhone 15 Pro being dropped about as unscientifically as possible over and over again until it finally succumbs. Sure, the iPhone 14 Pro stands up to the torture better. But was that because it has a more durable design (the video blames the iPhone 15 Pro's new curvier sides as the reason it exploded) or was it just down to the variability of dropping phones on hard floors at random? This is why controlled tests are needed if we're going to have any real, usable information to work with.

We've seen iPhones fall from planes and survive. We've seen iPhones fall from a low table and smash into smithereens. More iPhones and more rigorous testing methods are needed before anyone can make any proclamations about the durability of the iPhone 15 Pro.

Drop testing for protection, not destruction

So we've already established that I'm no fan of dropping iPhones to see if they break, but what about doing things the other way around?

Mous has become known for putting its latest cases through the wringer to see if they keep iPhones safe. The company's latest adventure involves throwing an iPhone  15 Pro out of moving cars, including an F1 car because why not?

The results? Mous' cases do the job admirably, although I doubt we'd see if they didn't. It's an ad, after all, and the same arguments about rigorous testing apply — although it's fair to say that an iPhone that survives falling out of a drifting car will probably survive falling off your coffee table, too.

My take? Keep the windows up and put the A/C on instead.

YouTube as entertainment

It's important to remember that not every YouTube video has to be the ultimate in scientific testing and approaches. Sometimes people like to throw iPhones at the floor for fun. And, more importantly, people seem to like watching people do it as well. Who am I to tell them that they shouldn't?

Do I think spending a couple of thousand dollars on iPhones just to break them is uncouth? Absolutely. But when you're running a YouTube channel as a business, I also kinda get it. It's a business expense and, in reality, those iPhones are nothing more than props.

The problem comes when those watching the videos don't realize what they're watching. In much the same way that all too often many tech "reviews" are nothing more than fans of any given company unboxing and waxing lyrical about a product, drop tests aren't clearly marked as being for entertainment rather than informational use. Advertisements have to be clearly marked as such. Should entertainment videos have similar labels?

I wouldn't argue against it, but I think I might know some people who would.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.