Apple started delivering its most expensive smartphone yet, the iPhone X, with what it calls "the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, front and back." Except that some tests from a third party claim that the device with a $1,000 entry point is the most breakable the company has produced. And that might make people wonder if getting one was such a smart idea.
SquareTrade, which offers third-party warranties for consumer electronics, runs a series of robotic extreme stress tests on devices:
- Face-down drop test
- Side and back drop tests
- Water dunk test
- Shot test (to simulate falling off a car roof)
- Tumble test
- Repairability analysis
Here's the video of the tests.
And here are the quoted test results that SquareTrade sent.
- Face-down drop test: On its first drop, SquareTrade saw the iPhone X shatter, its screen become unresponsive, and its widely touted facial recognition feature fail completely.
- Side and back drop tests: Remarkably, the side drop did the most internal damage to the phone. While the outside of the phone only suffered cosmetic damage, the screen was rendered inoperable. Meanwhile, the back drop completely shattered the back panel, leaving loose shards of glass, making it difficult to hold.
- Dunk test: The iPhone X faired similarly to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models, surviving 30 minutes under five feet of water with some audio muffling during playback.
- Shot test: Meant to simulate a phone falling off the roof of a car, the shot test showed that the iPhone X is prone to damage from a variety of drops. While the screen and back panel did experience cracks, the biggest damage came from both Face ID and the new "home" swipe command failing.
- Tumble test: Sixty seconds in the Tumble Bot was no friend to the iPhone X either. Although the screen was able to recognize touch through cracks suffered during the test, the "home" swipe command failed, stranding users in the app that happened to be open.
- Repairability: SquareTrade's master technician noted that the iPhone X has a thinner, more costly OLED screen that's more expensive to replace, a smaller logic board, multiple cables, and a split battery that's more difficult to remove. All of which may be why Apple is charging a whopping $279 for front screen replacement and $549 for other repairs.
Overall, the score was 90 out of a 100 scale, where a higher score indicates a greater risk of damage. For some context, SquareTrade called the Samsung Galaxy S8 the worst performing it had seen to date back in April. The score was 76 for the S8 and 77 for the S8+.
Remember, SquareTrade is a company, owned by Allstate, that sells insurance to consumers, so there is incentive for it to declare popular devices as risks. That said, it could be that the iPhone X is one expensive accident waiting to happen.
I have a request in to Apple for a comment and will add it if and when I hear back.