The iPhone X cracked on the first drop


I took our Space Gray iPhone X out to the sidewalk in front of CNET’s San Francisco offices: a place where many screens have met their doom.

Is it just me or are these kinds of “tests” utterly ridiculous? Of course glass things break when you drop them. Is this really a surprise to anyone?

Not good considering it was the first drop.

Is CNET really unclear how dropping things works? What difference does it make if it’s the first drop or the tenth? Do they think that the phone gets less durable the more you drop it?

Is the iPhone X more fragile than past iPhones? Tough to say, because none of our tests are scientific.

Then maybe you should leave the “testing” to those who can do it scientifically. Regardless, it seems to be pretty much common sense that, when you drop things, they sometimes break.

  • Mo


  • rick gregory

    The other problem with this is that drops are unique. They’re on different surfaces, from different heights, hitting differently.

    I get that accidents happen but in the years I’ve owned an iPhone (and before that, for a while, an Android phone) I’ve never dropped it. Why not? Well, I know it’s a fragile, expensive thing. So I take some care with it. You know… like a responsible adult?

    • lkalliance

      Yeah, I hear and sympathize that so many people break their phones. But I’ve carried an iPhone since 2008, my girlfriend since 2011, and my daughter since 2015, and between us we’ve had zero broken screens. I wonder how people are handling theirs that there are so many drops?

      • Glaurung-Quena

        Some people are clumsier than others. Be glad that you are fortunate enough to be on the less clumsy end of the spectrum.

        • lkalliance

          Ha! Anybody that’s seen me try to ask someone on a date knows how clumsy I am!

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    • Glaurung-Quena

      Some people are inherently clumsier than others. I know people who have never accidentally broken a dish in their entire life. I also know people who accidentally break a few dishes every year. All of them are competent responsible adults.

      Thankfully I don’t know anyone in real life who looks down upon those who are clumsier than they are the way you do.

      • brucej

        I was trained well as a chemist; you learn to get a foot under things as they fall when they’re an $800 piece of complicated glassblowing, so they bounce off a soft foot before they hit the hard floor. I’ve saved my phone a couple times with that trick.

        The downside is the reflex also kicks in when you drop a cast iron frypan, too. You can imagine how I learned that 😛

      • Average Zen Nihilist

        Clumsiness is carelessness. I’ve dropped my thermos a few times because it’s cheap and I don’t care. I’ve never dropped my iPhone because it’s costly and so I’m careful with it. It’s learned behavior, not inherent.

      • rick gregory

        It’s one thing to be clumsy with a dish. With a $1000 piece of electronics? If you’re that clumsy, put it in a case.

        And lose the tone-policing. God, people who are determined to be offended…

        • Kip Beatty

          To start, I’m not remotely offended by your remarks. However, do consider this…

          My wife, she’s dropped, and broken, about 4 or 5 iPhones. I’ve never so much as scratched one of mine. I wouldn’t say she’s clumsy, it’s more that women tend to carry more things then men do, and often have full hands (which are usually smaller than ours) getting in and out of vehicles, opening doors, etc. They also don’t tend to wear blazers, sport coats, and jackets the way we do which means they don’t have a convenient pocket to keep the phone in and easily reachable.

          Sure, dropping it in a purse is an option, but if other wives are like mine, that’s like dropping it in a black hole. She can never get to it easily there, so it’s rarely in the purse except maybe during a movie.

          All this is compounded by the fact that, as a woman with fashion sense, she’ll never put her rose gold iPhone in any kind of ugly protective case (can’t blame her there). So we pay for Apple Care Plus and occasionally have to pony up for accidental damage replacement. I expect the X will be little different is this regard. Glass things break when dropped and a thin, smooth, rectangular glass thing that’s carried for hours a day 365 days a year is going to get dropped on occasion.

          • so she’s careless and also won’t use a case, got it. yeah apple care is a good choice then.

          • Janak Parekh

            I don’t get this tradeoff. My wife drops her iPhone 7+ all the time. She’s not particularly clumsy, but she tends to use and grab it in various situations where I’d never pull my phone out. So, I got her a case. Not huge, but with a good TPU layer, and nary a scratch.

            She has a Rose Gold phone, and there are perfectly decent Rose Gold cases on Amazon that actually look pretty good. Has she rejected this option out of hand, or after looking?

            I mean, if someone really dislikes cases, then either AppleCare or the Moto Droid “shattershield” phones are the way to go. There are downsides to the shatter-proof designs (bulkier design, screen is less bright because of the layers) that Apple is not going to pick.

          • Kip Beatty

            I think people are confusing “case”with a protective case referenced in my post. Her iPhone had a designer case each and every time it broke. Those are not the same as an Otterbox or the like that truly protect it from drops.

            As to the clumsy claims, walk a mile in a woman’s shoes and tell me how easy it is. Better yet, as she arrives home from a 12 hour shift at the hospital, 3 kids in tow from various activities, and more crap to deal with than most of us can imagine, YOU tell her she’s clumsy. To her face. Please. Safety not guaranteed.

          • Janak Parekh

            A “designer case” that’s not protective is roughly equivalent to no case. Perhaps it provides grip or style, but it’s not a protective case.

            You can get something in between a non-protective case and an Otterbox. They exist, can look quite good, and work really well. I used to get my wife a thin case, she cracked the device, and I got her a slightly thicker case. Works great, has survived numerous drops, and her current phone looks like new. (I inherited her slightly cracked 6+; luckily it’s in the corner so I can mostly ignore it until I get an X.)

            The other thing I’d suggest is if you’ve got 3 kids in tow, get a Watch. It’s so incredibly handy for handling calls and texts when you have no hands free. My wife uses hers all the time. The only thing I wish was that the Series 3 was out a year earlier; she’s often running out with our son, doesn’t have time to find her phone, and so she’s phoneless at times. When the Series 4 comes out, I’m going to buy her one.

            As Rick implies, there’s ways of being smart about expensive devices. No one is insinuating everyone’s clumsy in this situation. I suppose AppleCare is the alternative, but it’s still expensive and a pain (since you have to go to the Apple Store, plus you get 2? subsidized breakages).

          • rick gregory

            ” …it’s more that women tend to carry more things then men do, and often have full hands (which are usually smaller than ours) getting in and out of vehicles, opening doors, etc.”

            I dont mean this as a criticism of your wife but… that’s an excuse. If you have a lot of things in your hands, they didn’t magically get there, you picked them up. You choose to prioritize something else over making sure you have a firm grip on that expensive and fragile phone. Women aren’t less capable that men.

            And if someone does drop things a lot, is just careless… put a damn case on it. Also, get Apple Care and replacement insurance (as you do…) but let’s stop pretending that people somehow cannot control their actions.

  • AAPL.To.Break.$160.Soon.>:-)

    Some idiot tech-heads are demanding wireless charging and as little bezel area as possible, so what do they expect to happen? I’m sure they don’t want Apple to use a plastic back and a carbon fiber back would drive up the cost. It’s like these people are telling Apple to build a fragile smartphone and then they get angry because of that fragility. Glass held in damp or sweaty hands makes it that much more difficult to grip.

    On top of that, most of those people don’t even want to use a bumper or a protective case for their iPhone. Jeez, those people are just so stupid. If a person has a relatively expensive device they want to keep, protect it the best they can and try absolutely not to drop it. Common sense almost tells that glass is likely to shatter when dropped onto a hard surface. What’s to test? How much it shatters?

    • lkalliance

      Well to be fair, Apple has made a point of saying that it’s the toughest glass ever shipped.

      I don’t like having a case on my phone. I miss my 5c: nice simple design with some bright color, plastic which was comfortable in the hand and less slippery, and highly rugged skeleton underneath so it felt like a solid object. “Unapologetically plastic” indeed.

      • the 3G and 3GS were my personal favorites. i loved their shape in hand.

        • lkalliance

          I remember them fondly too. And that was before iPhones got too light, too.

  • The Cappy

    It’s so asinine when people gratuitously destroy something that other people are waiting weeks to get.

  • Dex Dexter

    The glass back is a design flaw.

    It may be aesthetically a great choice (it is SO magical!), but it is too fragile a material for a thing to be used in this way and in the risc zone of being dropped.

    Good design is not about optimizing aesthetics. It is about making the best possible product, taking every use aspect into account.

    The glass back is a design flaw.

    • David Stewart

      The glass back is to allow for wireless charging. It’s not simply for aesthetics.

      • Dex Dexter

        Yeah – I know. But can inductive charging be provided in other ways? Can any other material be found, that does allow inductive charging to pass? And that does not have a 50% probability to break when dropped from waist height? Really?

        I think this is hits a wrong balance of feature vs. durability.

        Personally I am never ever going to shell out 800$ (or whatever high the price is) for a phone with a glass back. It is a bit of a mystery, that so many people are…

        • it’s not a mystery. it’s only a serious problem in your head, not in real life. we’ve been thru this before back with the 4 series.

          • Dex Dexter

            Exactly. The iPhone 4 was THE most beautiful object accessible to common people, that I had ever seen, when it was released.

            It was (and still is) an insanely beautiful object.

            But the glass material for its backside was not a good overall design choice.

            Even worse of a choice now, considering the bigger phones with a larger surface, and the need to throw it around in your hand to use it one-handed.

          • no, the glass material on the back was a fine design choice. it just wasn’t that big of a deal — most people use cases, but if you dont youre just careful (never broke any of ours). and if it did break, it only took thirty seconds to remove the back panel and put another one on.

            again, this was only a problem in your head.

    • DanielSw

      Glass IS the best material for iPhone X. The X IS the best possible product in its aesthetics and function.

      Apple doesn’t have to accommodate clumsy idiots who don’t know how to take care of their possessions. Those are lessons best learned in childhood, but which CAN be learned any time, given the need.

      • Dex Dexter

        I think we just have different opinions of what properties makes a product good.

        Glass is not a good material to use for (the backside of) an object that is taken in and out of pockets innumerable times a day. And often used one-handed in chest/waist height. Furthermore the big screens nowadays, makes people reach the full surface of their devices by ‘throwing’ it around in the hands.

        The glass back is a design flaw.

        But you may argue that the newest iPhones are more akin to jewelry than a tool. In which case i completely agree with you.

        • DanielSw

          So what would be a better material than glass, given both technical and aesthetic design demands? Glass IS the best material for both. The current Corning glass product is substantially durable for most use cases, and there’s always the possibility of improvements in the future.

          I’ve personally not had any problems with my iPhone 6+/7+ and their glass components. And I’ve dropped them a number of times from different heights and onto various surfaces without incident.

          There have been countless examples of media propaganda attacks on good products, people, companies and administrations—all for the sake of what? Nothing good or constructive, I’ll wager. So why do we keep letting ourselves get triggered by such?

          The design of any product, no matter how “good”, has to strike balances between quality, functionality, price, etc. I see the iPhone X as a significant step up in most every category. Glass is the best material for its faces, given the need for transparency to radio waves, and the need for actually substantial durability.

          What remains outside those balances are various use cases which exceed its properties. If someone is apt to drop their expensive device and then regret it, then it behooves that person to provide enhanced protection for it (cases), and/or simply take better care of it.

          • Dex Dexter

            I beg to differ.

            Thin-sheet glass objects breaking when hitting the ground from waist/chest height – yeah that’s some propaganda!

            Designers have a responsibility to take into consideration how their objects are going to be used. It is their obligation.

            That consideration has not been given enough weight in this case. In my humble opinion.

            And btw. another suitable material is spelled: p o l y c a r b o n a t e. (Omg. I’m going to get lynched now 😀 )

        • fk Bobby Turkalino

          A smooth glass object with smooth, round sides is going to be dropped. A lot. I have always loved the feel of iPhones and use them barenekkid. The idea of spending 1 Large on an elegant, pocketable, oft-used device like the iPhone x and having to put it in a stupid case seems silly. I’ll not be buying one. These are overly fragile machines and are shockingly expensive to repair. Plus, we are now hearing that the screens burn in even though Apple sez the OLED screens are the best ever. Twaddle.

    • nonsense. it was fine for the 4 and 4S models my family had. never broke. further, it took all of thirty seconds to remove it and replace if needed (two screws).

      you just like saying “design flaw” and pretending you know something about designing things. i doubt it.

      • Dex Dexter

        Well – I really try to argue why I think the way I do.

    • GlennC777

      One big advantage of glass, compared to the textured aluminum of recent phones, is being much easier to grip. Therefore, there should be fewer drops, at least for un-cased phones. Maybe even half as many. And all iPhones have a glass front, so the difference is only a matter of degree, perhaps a small one at that.

      Also consider that a cracked rear glass doesn’t have the operational consequences of a cracked screen, therefore is less important.

    • struckpaper

      You clearly don’t know what a design flaw is.

      • Dex Dexter

        Please tell me what it is, then.

        • no, youre the one making the claim, you explain what the problem is. cases and carefulness were all it took for the 4, in addition to very easy replacement of the rear shell. we had four of the 4 series (two 4, two 4s) and it was never an issue. i still have one of the 4s devices that is occasionally used as a backup to this day.

          just not seeing the sky falling down as you purport.

  • I’m assuming CNET bought AppleCare+. It’d be fun if Apple were able to somehow ask CNET about the article when they bring in the phone: “Let me get this straight: you dropped it for clicks?”

  • moronic nonsense.

  • Mo

    More holier-than-thou paternalistic judgment in Loop comments. Must be Monday.

  • acbarn

    I agree that the test was not well done. The issue though, is that Apple claiming the glass in the new iPhones is the “strongest glass ever” implies at least a very minimal level of resistance to breakage, which doesn’t seem to be the case. These phones seem to break as easily as you would expect any glass object to break.

    • fk Bobby Turkalino

      “Strongest glass ever” is utterly meaningless. Glass is brittle and glass breaks on impact. Plus, replacing the glass on these machines is very costly. Fuggetaboutit.

  • Caleb Hightower

    Its a good thing CNET is no longer relevant in the computer industry.

    But sadly, people still rely on their half-baked analyses.

    This is just a desperate, click-bait attempt to increase site traffic.

    • struckpaper

      “But sadly, people still rely on their half-baked analyses.”

      That makes them relevant then.

  • GS

    So far there’s “i”Gate, ScreenBurn-InGate, KeyboardWastedSpaceGate, Black-Mirror-yGate, GlassBreaksWhenDroppedGate, and last but I’m sure there are more to come, NotchGate. Good thing Apple doesn’t make Gates, or some sort of world-ending death loop would occur.

  • My favorite part about all of this is they act as if this is the first glass-backed phone to ever have a problem being dropped or otherwise abused. Samsung and Sony have put out glass backed phone for a long time now (not counting the iPhone 4/4S times). Google’s Pixel and many other phones also have glass backs. They all have varying degrees of ease and expense being replaced.

    The only reason this is a growing deal now is because Apple makes for easy click bait.

  • struckpaper

    “Do they think that the phone gets less durable the more you drop it?”

    Actually, it does.

  • JimCracky

    Stupid. And it proves nothing. Get the “will it blend?” dude out and let’s have some real fun.

  • George3C

    Dropping glass on a sidewalk. Glass breaks. “Our tests are not scientific.” Really.

  • George3C

    Remember. Always purchase the warranty. Which is more expensive for the iPhone X, as one might surmise by knowing that it is made of glass. Still, it is offered. I dropped my iPhone 6 not long after I bought it. The second time, the glass cracked. Warranty replaced at about $75, for a first-time loss. Known risk, so was happy I had the warranty. Friend has a fully-enclosed 6, pretty clunky, but has had no breaks. Also, he is an ironworker. Common sense rules.

  • While I’ve had many phones and only ever dropped them a handful of times in total, the times I have were always unexpected and accidental. Luckily none of them broke. But it could have easily gone the other way and broken.

    These phones are getting ever thinner and more slippery so I understand why people are concerned about dropping them. It’s the main reason I recently bought my wife and I iPhone 7`s instead of the 8 – the back of the 7 is metal so less chance of getting smashed if dropped.

    Apple and other manufacturers need to seriously improve the strength of the glass on these devices so that we get to a point where dropping them no longer results in damage.