iPhone 11 durability tests prove glass still breaks like glass

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Zack from JerryRigEverything performs his usual battery of tests on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, starting with the scratch test. As you can see, the iPhone’s screen exhibits scratching at a level six on the Mohs’ hardness test. It should be strong enough to avoid scratches from keys, coins and razor blades, however.

Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro Max carries an IP68 rating against liquid but as Zack highlights, Apple takes it a step further by guaranteeing the phone should withstand a depth of four meters for up to 30 minutes. Most phones with an IP68 rating are only good to a depth of two meters.

The rear glass on the new handset is also rated at a level six meaning a standard razor blade isn’t going to damage it. Coins, keys and other pieces of metal appear to scratch the glass but in actuality, the glass back is wearing down the materials and leaving behind a dusty residue that wipes away clean.

SquareTrade, meanwhile, starts off by drop testing the new iPhone 11 from a distance of six feet onto concrete face-first. Unsurprisingly, the front glass shatters on the first drop. The iPhone 11 Pro fared worse, as the screen not only cracked, but malfunctioned – and the camera broke. The 11 Pro Max met a similar fate with a busted and malfunctioning screen, proving that glass still breaks like glass despite years of research into hardening.

Going back-first at a height of six feet wrecked all three iPhones as well.

When testing the liquid repelling capabilities of the new iPhones, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max exhibited audio distortion after a 30 minute soak at a depth of five feet, calling into question Apple’s claim that the phones could withstand being submerged in up to four meters of liquid for half an hour (the base model iPhone 11 is only rated to two meters for 30 minutes). The 11 Pro suffered no damage in this test.

In the 60-second tumble test, the iPhone 11 sustained a cracked back while the 11 Pro only had minimal corner scuffs. It is the first iPhone ever to survive the tumble test, SquareTrade said. The larger 11 Pro Max suffered from a cracked back and loose glass. And in the bend test, the 11 bent at 240 pounds of pressure, the 11 Pro gave way at 251 pounds and the 11 Pro Max caved at 232 pounds, not surprising considering it is the longest of the three.

All things told, the iPhone 11 received a breakability score of 73 (medium-high risk), the iPhone 11 Pro got a 65 (medium risk) and the iPhone 11 Pro Max a score of 85 (high risk).

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noel24

TS Evangelist
Buy it, use it, break it, fix it
Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it
Snap it, work it, quick - erase it
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it
Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it
Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it
View it, code it, jam - unlock it
Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it
Cross it, crack it, switch - update it
Name it, rate it, tune it, print it
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it
Turn it, leave it, start - format it

Technologic, technologic, technologic...
 

VitalyT

Russ-Puss
I was gonna leave an utterly useless comment here, but @noel24 beat me to it. Now will have to write something useful, unfortunately...

According to initial tests, battery life on the new iPhone-s well surpasses Apple's official claim, which is a nice surprise...

 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Yeah, big price, big claims, and with you drop it you also get a big bill ......... what more could you ask for?!?
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Maniac
Glass no matter how you slice it, is brittle and Gorillas glass may have made the glass harder, but that doesn't help it survive a drop one bit. The glass needs to be "tough" and glass can't be made tough in the sense we would like. SO called toughened glass is used for safety purposes, with the surface under tension and the interior under compression, so when it breaks it shatters into small safe pieces, rather than jagged shards.

The sort of toughness we want is where a material absorbs energy and deforms in a plastic manner without fracturing. Just like most plastic. Glass will never be such a material.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Glass no matter how you slice it, is brittle and Gorillas glass may have made the glass harder, but that doesn't help it survive a drop one bit. The glass needs to be "tough" and glass can't be made tough in the sense we would like. SO called toughened glass is used for safety purposes, with the surface under tension and the interior under compression, so when it breaks it shatters into small safe pieces, rather than jagged shards.

The sort of toughness we want is where a material absorbs energy and deforms in a plastic manner without fracturing. Just like most plastic. Glass will never be such a material.
Well, at least the glass required to be tough enough to resist scratching. Otherwise there is some pretty flexible glass in modern fiber optic cables.
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Maniac
Well, at least the glass required to be tough enough to resist scratching. Otherwise there is some pretty flexible glass in modern fiber optic cables.
Flexibility is not toughness and optical fibre is not subject to high g-loads. Also harness is not toughness, you could make the screen from sapphire and yes it's highly scratch resistant being only behind diamond in hardness, but it will still shatter when you drop it.
 

Evernessince

地獄らしい人間動物園
Flexibility is not toughness and optical fibre is not subject to high g-loads. Also harness is not toughness, you could make the screen from sapphire and yes it's highly scratch resistant being only behind diamond in hardness, but it will still shatter when you drop it.
I don't know about that one. I'm 100% sure the fiber lines around most of the USA withstand more Gs from the wind, snow, and other forces of nature then your phone taking a drop on the concrete. I have no idea where you got the impression that the Gs applied to consumer smartphones can rival those of overhead fiber lines but it's completely inaccurate.

"In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing."

In fact, both flexibility and hardness are both factors of toughness. It's just that phone screens have far too much hardness and not enough flexability, likely due to the fact that they have to be optically transparent and work well for touch functions.
 

Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
Not an iPhone user, but regardless. Who DOESN'T put a smartphone, in a case to protect it?
ANYTHING that you carry around, made of GLASS, will break if you abuse it.
I don't put my phones in cases. I just don't abuse my phones. It's been years since I shattered a screen or anything. I know plenty of people who've got their phones in cases and done more damage than I ever have. Plus I tend to use my phones until they're pretty warn out so re-sale value is a non-issue.

I also feel like putting a case on defeats the point of these high end phones. They are made to look nice and of nice materials, then you cover it with 30 pence worth of plastic.
 

Boilerhog146

TS Evangelist
Flexibility is not toughness and optical fibre is not subject to high g-loads. Also harness is not toughness, you could make the screen from sapphire and yes it's highly scratch resistant being only behind diamond in hardness, but it will still shatter when you drop it.
I don't know about that one. I'm 100% sure the fiber lines around most of the USA withstand more Gs from the wind, snow, and other forces of nature then your phone taking a drop on the concrete. I have no idea where you got the impression that the Gs applied to consumer smartphones can rival those of overhead fiber lines but it's completely inaccurate.

"In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing."

In fact, both flexibility and hardness are both factors of toughness. It's just that phone screens have far too much hardness and not enough flexability, likely due to the fact that they have to be optically transparent and work well for touch functions.

In industry we use different tests for hardness ,toughness,etc.brinel ,Rockwell.hardness test.
Fot tensile strength.another test.and there is a test for workhardening.which I'm 100%certain the folding phone screens will suffer over time.with cracks starting to form as it flexes. Too many gimmics to try to sell more phones.
 
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QuantumPhysics

TS Evangelist
iPhone 11/ Pro Max will still hold up better than the vast majority of the electronics on the market would if dropped from equal height.

I have an idea.

Don't drop them.

Buy a protective case.

Don't sit on them.

Don't buy them for children who are likely to break them.

Use your "brain".
 
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Markoni35

TS Maniac
I have an idea. Park a 70-ton Abrams tank at railway tracks and smash a 200-ton diesel locomotive at full speed into the tank. Let's see what happens. Yes, the locomotive is heavier, but tank has a much stronger armor.

That would be a lot more exciting that breaking a cellphone.
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Maniac
I don't know about that one. I'm 100% sure the fiber lines around most of the USA withstand more Gs from the wind, snow, and other forces of nature then your phone taking a drop on the concrete. I have no idea where you got the impression that the Gs applied to consumer smartphones can rival those of overhead fiber lines but it's completely inaccurate.

"In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing."

In fact, both flexibility and hardness are both factors of toughness. It's just that phone screens have far too much hardness and not enough flexability, likely due to the fact that they have to be optically transparent and work well for touch functions.
Optical fibres are not tough, telco fibres are pure silica glass, they can be bent because they are so thin, but they cannot be tied in knot and if you impacted the fibre with decent g-force it would shatter. Glass is not flexible like plastic, it's far too stiff and offer little impact resistance to the types of shock loading we are interested in. Even those 0.3mm glass screen protectors will only flex a small amount
 

Raunchy

TS Rookie
And yet people continue to buy defective, insulting junk like this.

Mobile devices that can't withstand being used for their primary purpose.

Mobile devices with pitiful batteries that don't last through lunch.

Music-centric devices with no headphone jacks.

People just don't learn.
 

Markoni35

TS Maniac
And yet people continue to buy defective, insulting junk like this.

Mobile devices that can't withstand being used for their primary purpose.

Mobile devices with pitiful batteries that don't last through lunch.

Music-centric devices with no headphone jacks.

People just don't learn.
If people had brain they wouldn't buy a cellphone, period. It's a personal spying device. But unlike similar devices from the past, you have to buy those yourself. During the Cold War, if you were planted a spying device, at least CIA or KGB would do it for free.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
I have yet to drop and break one of my desktops. But then again, maybe if I carried one with me to make phone calls, who knows what would happen.

As for this 'meaningless' test of 'durability', methinks Apple should release a statement to the effect of, "you're dropping it wrong". :eek::rolleyes:
 
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KZLA19

TS Rookie
I dropped my phone (iPhone 11) twice in my house on the laminate floor and have major scratches on the front and back and on two of the corners. This was my third day of using it. WTF?!
 

Boilerhog146

TS Evangelist
Holy transparent metal Batman! Now all we need is a few whales to save (**) and warp drive...(y) (Y)

(**) This assumes the Japanese haven't killed them all off with their last 'research hunt'. :(
we still have lots of whales .not so much food for them, they are in danger , and NO, you will not be able to save them. the polar bears and the seals will all die off as the food supply dies off or we eat it all ! Lol. we are in danger also.