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iPhone 12 drop take a look at outcomes are in: Ceramic defend is as powerful because it sounds

Chris Parker/CNET

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. Every yr Apple makes an identical declare about its glass, however this time could also be completely different as a result of that is no bizarre glass. While it might appear and feel precisely like glass, the ceramic defend masking the screens is, because the title suggests, a mixture of glass and ceramic (which is tougher than most metals). It’s a completely new cowl materials for the iPhone and it is in contrast to 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 means of a number of 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 defend solely covers the entrance — the display screen — of the iPhone 12. The again is roofed with the identical glass as final yr’s iPhone 11, which Apple says is the hardest within the trade. Both forms 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/CNET

Aside from the glass, the opposite issue which will play a task in how properly this cellphone holds as much as drops is the design. The glass on the iPhone 12 lies flush with the metallic body fairly than curved up like in earlier fashions which left extra of the glass uncovered. Apple says that design alternative 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 defend on the display screen and the identical sort of glass on the again. The solely distinction in supplies is the body. The two Pros have a chrome steel body, whereas the Mini and the 12 are aluminum. The efficiency of the body might fluctuate relying on the fabric, however the glass ought to supply the identical sort 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 take a look at, I put the iPhone 12 in a small make-up bag with among 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 a number of weeks of bouncing round in a handbag or pocket earlier than inspecting it.

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

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

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iPhone 12: How powerful is the glass?


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

Next, I needed to see how the display screen would maintain up if it got here involved with a tough floor like a marble desk, kitchen counter or toilet ground. 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 cellphone. 

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 cellphone was trickier. The raised digital camera module does not permit the cellphone to put flat on its again, so I did a number of slides with the cellphone at an angle. This did not injury the glass, however it prompted among the metallic paint on the body across the backside digital camera 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 digital camera 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. Both had been thinner than a strand of high quality hair and a few quarter of an inch lengthy.


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

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Scratch 3: Rubbing it on sandpaper made a mark

Having handed the 2 scratch exams with flying colours, I made a decision to conduct another (excessive) take a look at on this iPhone 12: rubbing with 80-grit sandpaper. This might be the real-world equal of sliding your cellphone throughout a driveway or sidewalk, which hopefully will not occur too usually. 

I rubbed the cellphone backwards and forwards throughout the sandpaper 10 instances on both aspect, making use of gentle strain. This time, each side of the cellphone had been scraped up. The display screen had probably the most injury, with strains operating horizontally by means of the center of the cellphone. A number of of them had been deep sufficient to really feel with my fingernail, however it was nonetheless in working situation. The again of the cellphone has considerably much less injury, once more due to the safety supplied by the raised digital camera module, however it 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/CNET

Scratching the cellphone compromises the glass and makes it much more more likely to break throughout a fall, so my colleague, CNET 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 the extra widespread instances you may drop your cellphone is while you’re placing it out and in of your pocket. While dropping a cellphone from hip top 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 top, 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 a number of dents across the edges of the cellphone, however nothing severe. 

Drop take a look at 2: Three ft, again aspect down 

Next, Chris did the identical drop, however this time with the again of the cellphone 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 digital camera module is) hitting first, then the underside. Finally it landed again aspect down on the sidewalk. 

The essential distinction on this drop was the sound when it landed, a louder thud than earlier than. Sure sufficient, as soon as we turned it over, we seen the underside half of the cellphone was damaged. The edge 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 cellphone, 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 top broke the again glass of our iPhone 12. 

Chris Parker/CNET

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

This is about as excessive as Chris may drop the cellphone while not having a ladder.

The prime left hand nook of the display screen, reverse the digital camera module, hit first, then the suitable aspect, then the left till it flipped on its again, touchdown display screen aspect up. The most noticeable dent was on the highest the place it hit first and it nearly appeared prefer it had prompted  a crack within the display screen proper the place it met the metallic body. But after rubbing it off we realized it was simply metallic residue from the body and the glass was nonetheless in good form. 


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

Chris Parker/CNET

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

With the display screen nonetheless holding sturdy, we determined to go even larger, utilizing a step ladder to succeed in 9 ft. Again this isn’t a sensible drop except you occur to slip your cellphone off a second ground balcony, however we needed to see how far we may take it.

At 9 ft it grew to become even tougher to manage the touchdown. While 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 will in some unspecified time in the future land flat on its face, however the weight of the digital camera made it exhausting for it to land at that angle, particularly at that top. 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 a number of extra bumps and bruises, however the display screen nonetheless appeared like new after three back-to-back drops from 9 ft. The solely approach up from there would’ve been to climb up on the roof or lease a scissor elevate, which we weren’t precisely ready to do. 


The display screen of our iPhone 12 survived with out a crack after we dropped it on the sidewalk six instances.

Chris Parker/CNET

Let’s break it down

Because our exams aren’t scientific, we will not say for a incontrovertible fact that the display screen is stronger than every other cellphone out there, however we will positively say that our iPhone 12 was extremely powerful to crack (and scratch) even on tile and sidewalk.

The again of the iPhone 12, nonetheless, does not appear to have the identical drop resistance superpower because the display screen. And whilst you might really feel comfy utilizing this cellphone with out a display screen protector, we — and Apple — suggest utilizing the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro 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 CNET, Apple stated, “iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro represent the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone … iPhone 12 models have gone through rigorous real-world testing and are designed to be durable, but not indestructible. If anyone is concerned about dropping their iPhone and damaging it, we suggest using one of the many beautiful cases available to protect iPhone.” 

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