iPhone 12 drop test results are in: Ceramic shield is as tough as it sounds

Chris Parker/PJDM

Apple has lined its new iPhone 12 with a brand-new type of glass called “ceramic shield”, which it says is the toughest glass ever on a smartphone. Yearly Apple makes an analogous declare about its glass, however this time could also be totally different as a result of that is no bizarre glass. Whereas it could appear and feel precisely like glass, the ceramic protect protecting the screens is, because the title suggests, a mix of glass and ceramic (which is more durable than most metals). It is a completely new cowl materials for the iPhone and it is not like something we have ever examined earlier than. 

And testing it’s precisely what we did. To learn how this new materials holds as much as the weather, we put two brand-new iPhone 12s by just a few scratch and drop exams. And because it seems, this new glass is extremely sturdy. (This rival says its display screen is three times harder than Apple’s ceramic shield.)

iPhone 12: Breaking down the glass

The ceramic protect solely covers the entrance — the display screen — of the iPhone 12. The again is roofed with the identical glass as final 12 months’s iPhone 11, which Apple says is the hardest within the business. Each kinds of glass are made by Corning


The glass on the iPhone 11 (left) curves up, whereas the glass on iPhone 12 (proper) is flush with the body. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/PJDM

Other than the glass, the opposite issue that will play a job in how properly this telephone holds as much as drops is the design. The glass on the iPhone 12 lies flush with the steel body reasonably than curved up like in earlier fashions which left extra of the glass uncovered. Apple says that design selection alone will make the front and back twice as sturdy as older fashions. 

All 4 fashions of the iPhone 12 (iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Max) have the identical ceramic protect on the display screen and the identical kind of glass on the again. The one distinction in supplies is the body. The 2 Professionals have a stainless-steel body, whereas the Mini and the 12 are aluminum. The efficiency of the body could differ relying on the fabric, however the glass ought to supply the identical kind of safety throughout the board. For our exams we used the common iPhone 12 in blue and inexperienced. 

Scratch 1: It survived the pocket/purse tumble 

For the primary check, I put the iPhone 12 in a small make-up bag with a number of the widespread culprits that scratch up our phones: a set of keys, a half dozen quarters and a metallic pen. I shook the bag vigorously for about 30 seconds to simulate what occurs after just a few weeks of bouncing round in a handbag or pocket earlier than inspecting it.

After wiping the telephone down with a material, I could not discover a single scratch on the glass or the body of the iPhone 12.  

Click on on the video beneath to see the outcomes from the scratch and drop exams. 

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iPhone 12: How robust is the glass?


Scratch 2: No scratches on the display screen after sliding on tile

Subsequent, I needed to see how the display screen would maintain up if it got here in touch with a tough floor like a marble desk, kitchen counter or toilet flooring. I slid the iPhone 12 backwards and forwards 10 instances on a textured ceramic tile, first alongside the display screen, then on the again of the telephone. 

The display screen had a bid of particles from the tile, however after cleansing it off I struggled to seek out any seen injury to the glass. Testing the again of the telephone was trickier. The raised digicam module would not permit the telephone to put flat on its again, so I did just a few slides with the telephone at an angle. This did not injury the glass, but it surely brought on a number of the metallic paint on the body across the backside digicam to rub off. It was barely noticeable and the lenses themselves had been nonetheless in pristine situation. Then I did it once more with the digicam module hanging off the sting of the tile. After inspecting the again carefully, I lastly managed to make out two microscopic scratches, one on the silver Apple brand, and one other proper beneath it on the blue glass. Each had been thinner than a strand of high-quality hair and a few quarter of an inch lengthy.


The 2 tiny scratches on the again of the iPhone 12 that resulted from sliding it on flooring tile. The display screen got here out flawless. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/PJDM

Scratch 3: Rubbing it on sandpaper made a mark

Having handed the 2 scratch exams with flying colours, I made a decision to conduct yet another (excessive) check on this iPhone 12: rubbing with 80-grit sandpaper. That is most likely the real-world equal of sliding your telephone throughout a driveway or sidewalk, which hopefully will not occur too usually. 

I rubbed the telephone backwards and forwards throughout the sandpaper 10 instances on both aspect, making use of gentle stress. This time, either side of the telephone had been scraped up. The display screen had essentially the most injury, with strains operating horizontally by the center of the telephone. A couple of of them had been deep sufficient to really feel with my fingernail, but it surely was nonetheless in working situation. The again of the telephone has considerably much less injury, once more due to the safety supplied by the raised digicam module, but it surely nonetheless had seen scrapes within the middle and on the decrease edges. The metallic end on the lens frames had continued to peel off, however the lenses themselves had been nonetheless scratchless. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/PJDM

Scratching the telephone compromises the glass and makes it much more more likely to break throughout a fall, so my colleague, PJDM Managing Producer Chris Parker, used one other brand-new iPhone 12 for our drop exams onto the sidewalk. 

Drop 1: Three ft, display screen aspect down

One of many extra widespread instances you would possibly drop your telephone is if you’re placing it out and in of your pocket. Whereas dropping a telephone from hip peak could be innocent, if it lands on the road or sidewalk, you are more likely to find yourself with a damaged display screen.

When dropped from hip peak, the highest of the iPhone 12 hit the bottom first, then the underside. Then it bounced within the air as soon as extra earlier than touchdown flat on the sidewalk, display screen aspect down as meant.  

The aluminum body had just a few dents across the edges of the telephone, however nothing critical. 

Drop check 2: Three ft, again aspect down 

Subsequent, Chris did the identical drop, however this time with the again of the telephone going through the bottom. 

The iPhone 12 appears to be prime heavy: It landed nearly in the very same approach because it did earlier than, with the highest (the place the digicam module is) hitting first, then the underside. Lastly it landed again aspect down on the sidewalk. 

The primary distinction on this drop was the sound when it landed, a louder thud than earlier than. Positive sufficient, as soon as we turned it over, we observed the underside half of the telephone was damaged. The sting felt a bit tough to the contact, primarily from the dents on the body, however there weren’t any shards falling off the again of the telephone, and it nonetheless felt clean regardless of the cracks. 

With the again cracked, we narrowed our drops to the display screen solely. 


The second drop from hip peak broke the again glass of our iPhone 12. 

Chris Parker/PJDM

Drop 3: 6 ft, 6 inches, display screen aspect down

That is about as excessive as Chris might drop the telephone with no need a ladder.

The highest left hand nook of the display screen, reverse the digicam module, hit first, then the correct aspect, then the left till it flipped on its again, touchdown display screen aspect up. Essentially the most noticeable dent was on the highest the place it hit first and it nearly seemed prefer it had brought on  a crack within the display screen proper the place it met the steel body. However after rubbing it off we realized it was simply metallic residue from the body and the glass was nonetheless in excellent form. 


The aluminum body on the iPhone 12 absorbed the brunt of the autumn from six ft. 

Chris Parker/PJDM

Drop 4, 5 and 6: 9 ft drop, display screen aspect down

With the display screen nonetheless holding robust, we determined to go even increased, utilizing a step ladder to achieve 9 ft. Once more this isn’t a practical drop except you occur to slip your telephone off a second flooring balcony, however we needed to see how far we might take it.

At 9 ft it turned even more durable to manage the touchdown. Whereas Chris was aiming to drop it flat on the display screen, the iPhone 12 had a thoughts of its personal and landed in nearly the very same approach because the earlier six-foot drop. With the highest right-hand nook of the display screen hitting the bottom first, then bouncing off the left aspect and touchdown display screen aspect up. 

The dent on the highest right-hand aspect of the body bought deeper, however the display screen survived but once more. 

We repeated this drop two extra instances hoping it could sooner or later land flat on its face, however the weight of the digicam made it laborious for it to land at that angle, particularly at that peak. The iPhone 12 lastly landed with the display screen down on the final drop, however solely as a result of it bounced off the aspect of the porch step. The body had just a few extra bumps and bruises, however the display screen nonetheless seemed like new after three back-to-back drops from 9 ft. The one approach up from there would’ve been to climb up on the roof or lease a scissor carry, which we weren’t precisely ready to do. 


The display screen of our iPhone 12 survived with no crack after we dropped it on the sidewalk six instances.

Chris Parker/PJDM

Let’s break it down

As a result of our exams aren’t scientific, we will not say for a indisputable fact that the display screen is stronger than another telephone available in the market, however we are able to undoubtedly say that our iPhone 12 was extremely robust to crack (and scratch) even on tile and sidewalk.

The again of the iPhone 12, nonetheless, would not appear to have the identical drop resistance superpower because the display screen. And when you could really feel comfy utilizing this telephone with no display screen protector, we — and Apple — advocate utilizing the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Professional with a case, as getting the display screen or again changed without AppleCare Plus coverage costs anywhere from $279 to $549 relying on the restore. 

In a press release to PJDM, Apple mentioned, “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Professional signify the most important bounce in sturdiness ever on iPhone … iPhone 12 fashions have gone by rigorous real-world testing and are designed to be sturdy, however not indestructible. If anybody is anxious about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we propose utilizing one of many many stunning circumstances obtainable to guard iPhone.” 

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Vanessa Hand Orellana