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The first major Galaxy S21 drop test was a big mess

Published Feb 1st, 2021 3:41PM EST
Galaxy S21 Ultra Drop Test
Image: Samsung

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  • The Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra feature the strongest Gorilla Glass panels available for smartphones, but the phones still might not survive all accidental drops. The displays might not even function at all after being dropped.
  • A drop test video from Allstate shows that the screens of all three handsets were cracked after a face-down drop. The rear panels on the Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra were also cracked in the test.
  • The camera systems are encased in metal, and they survived the drop test.

It’s early February, which means the newest Galaxy S phone is available in stores. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+, and Galaxy S21 Ultra in mid-January, more than a month earlier than usual. The phones were available for preorder as soon as Samsung’s Unpacked press conference ended, and they’ve now shipped to buyers. The Galaxy S21 is easily the best Android phone of 2021 so far, but it’s not like it has any competition for the time being. The phone delivers a few design changes, including a major camera makeover that’s supposed to improve durability, as well as the high-end specs that you expect from a next-gen Galaxy S phone.

But one thing didn’t change on this year’s Samsung flagships: the Galaxy S21 phones don’t appear to be any more durable than last year’s models. The first major Galaxy S21 drop test already provides the news you’ve been dreading — you’re going to need cases and screen protectors for your new Galaxy S.

With the new Galaxy S21, Samsung fixed several things that Galaxy S20 users complained about. The phones are cheaper than last year’s models, but Samsung had to make compromises to get there, including the use of plastic on the cheapest S21 phone. The camera module used to break on some Galaxy S20 phones, so the S21 camera systems are enveloped in metal. The Exynos-powered S20 would overheat and cause a lag in performance, and that has also been corrected.

But the folks at Allstate just showed us that the Galaxy S21 phones aren’t more durable than last year’s models. They produced the same drop test they’ve done with other handsets in the past, including previous-generation Galaxy S phones, and found the Galaxy S21 handsets won’t handle drops gracefully.

In face-down tests, all three Galaxy S21 phones were damaged. The entry-level S21 fared the best, with a cracked screen and raised glass. The Galaxy S21+ display cracked and loosened, and the screen then malfunctioned during usability tests. The S21 Ultra screen took the most damage and could not be used after a single drop.

Image source: Allstate

All Galaxy S21 phones feature new Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on the front, which is the toughest Gorilla Glass so far. The S21 and S21+ have flat displays, while the Ultra gets rounded corners. But the phones still failed the drop test.

Allstate also dropped the phones on their backs, with two of them shattering after just one drop each. That’s the Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra that feature glass panels on the back. The Galaxy S21 has a plastic rear panel, which means the back will survive drops better than glass.

The cameras were not damaged during the drops, so the metal “Contour Cut Camera” does work.

Drop tests aren’t always indicative of real-life drops, and your mileage may vary. As is the case with other phones, the Galaxy S21 handsets will survive some drops unscathed. But the damage risk is clearly there and protective gear might be required to save the glass. Additionally, Samsung offers a Samsung Care+ extended warranty program that will replace broken screens for $29 — all the information is available at this link.

The full video from Allstate follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.