Being that the front of most of our smartphones are now covered with glass instead of a thin, flexible plastic, they tend to be a bit more fragile. Unsightly scratches still may occur. But there's nothing quite like how glass will react to concrete or asphalt from a waist-high drop. What you see above is a still from an iPad being thrown at the ground in slow motion.
And it's happened to us all at some point or another. You go to slide your phone in your pant pocket and you somehow miss and straight to the floor your phone goes. Or maybe you pulled your phone out of your pocket and lost your grip. Or, even worse, maybe you were talking on the phone and it slipped right through your fingers to the hard surface below. It can happen at any time, and rest assured, it will happen at the worst time possible.
While every drop is just a gut-wrenching as the last, not every one is fatal. Go watch a few (pointless) drop tests. Devices usually survive the first few drops, even from shoulder height on to tarmac. They'll take a few scuffs and scratches, but few (that I have ever seen at least) are rendered completely useless after the first drop.
Sometimes, however, a seemingly harmless drop can be the worst mistake you make all month; a tiny, two-foot drop to a linoleum floor, or a face-down splat on the table top below may seem harmless. But it's always those that surprise us. Al Sacco, "Mobile Workhorse" at CIO, gave his account of what happened to his Samsung Galaxy S III yesterday, which you can find pictured above:
"Behold the current state of my Galaxy S III. Note the smashed display. You can't see it in this particular image, but the entire screen is spiderwebbed. The slick, slippery device slid right out of my pants pocket as I exited my car, and it landed on its edge on the sidewalk. All it took was a drop from less than two feet. Smash. RIP GSIII."
I've had the same thing – a phone slip out of my pocket or hand as I'm exiting my car – happen to me more than once, and it's a gruesome feeling, but I have never managed to smash a display just yet. No broken glass … yet. And I'm counting my blessings.
I have, however, had oodles of very close calls. I was walking in a Pier Imports one day, which had a tile floor. I was carrying my iPhone naked (without a case) and was bringing it down from my ear to end a call. Rather than just dropping it, I had put some force behind it as I brought it away from my ear with my hand, and as I was going to end the call, I completely lost my grip on the phone. At the last second, my old soccer skills kicked-in and I cradled the phone's fall with my foot. Phew!
I'm lucky to not have had to replace my iPhone. I would estimate that I have dropped it from at least waist-high no less than 10 times. But, somehow, it has survived. In one incident (that I gave an account of before), I dropped my iPhone on to concrete while walking my dog. When the iPhone hit the concrete, the featherlight case shattered and shot shrapnel in al directions, launching my iPhone to an asphalt surface. It suffered some scratches. But, ultimately, it survived.
Each and every drop gives you the same feeling deep down, though. And BuzzFeed's Allison McCann captures the sickening feeling and process perfectly:
"Upon impact, a small amount of elastic energy is converted into acoustic energy — that resounding indication of breaking glass. But the majority of the elastic energy stored in the glass will be converted into two — or more — new surface energies. A crack. Or several cracks. With one eye closed, you’ll reach down gingerly, reluctant to turn it over. There won't be any shards to pick up off the pavement, only a phone with a freshly splintered screen, the jagged lines and spiderwebs forming some kind of painful abstract art.
You've just smashed your phone's screen."
The single most terrifying drop – more like a fling – that I had was with the Galaxy Note. I knew it was through before it ever hit the ground. Once again, I was walking my dog. Stupidly, I was using the same hand to hold the leash and phone. Axle saw something in the distance and took off running, which pulled my arm forward and up before loosening my grip on the phone. I threw it at least eight feet into the air and six feet out and all I could do was watch in terror. When it hit the ground, it bounced twice before skidding over the asphalt. Surprisingly, it only suffered a single scratch to the bottom left corner, which is barely discernible.
The tale of the shattered display is one we're hearing more and more of, despite chemically hardened glass. That's because no glass is perfect and, as McCann explains, each drop makes your phone's display "weaker, sicker, one blow closer to death." Two or three drops is enough to do your phone in sometimes. Other times, a phone can withstand a lifetime of drops.
I've had tons of close calls. I don't know if it's just luck or whether I should be thanking Corning's Gorilla Glass for saving my phones countless times. But I have yet to shatter the glass on my phone.
What about you, folks? Have you ever shattered the glass display on your phone or tablet? Or has the use of cases and screen protectors saved your phone from certain death? Share your gruesome stories below!
Image via BeyondSlowMotion