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Galaxy S21 Ultra can’t match iPhone 12 Pro Max durability in drop test

Published Feb 2nd, 2021 7:31AM EST
Galaxy S21 Ultra
Image: Samsung

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  • A drop test comparison between the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max shows that Samsung’s new phone can’t match the new iPhone’s durability.
  • The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s glass cracked on the front and back after drops, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max survived the same tests without sustaining any damage.
  • A previous video showed that all Galaxy S21 versions are likely to see some screen damage following accidental drops.

The three Galaxy S21 phones are available in stores right now, more than a month earlier than supposed to. If you’ve already preordered the handset or will buy one after you try out all the Galaxy S21 versions in a retail store, you should be looking for protective equipment for it. We saw a first Galaxy S21 drop test earlier this week, and it was a big mess. The Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra were shattered on the first drop, showing that even Corning’s most durable glass won’t survive all drops. The S21+ and S21 Ultra have glass rear panels, which also cracked in those drop tests. The only things that survived were the camera module and the plastic back of the regular S21.

We already explained that real-life mileage might vary and that the phone will certainly survive some accidental drops but fail others. However, there’s another Galaxy S21 drop test you should check out that delivers the same bad news about Samsung’s latest phone. This time around, we have a direct comparison with the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s nemesis, the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

YouTube channel PhoneBuff put the two flagship handsets through the same drop test stages. The phones were dropped on their backs, corners, and screen, and the iPhone 12 was the clear winner.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra’s rear cracked on the first drop, even though it was just a hairline crack that appeared next to the camera module. The front glass also cracked in various places on the first drop, although the damage wasn’t as consistent as Allstate’s experiment. The screen was still usable, even if cracked.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra also scratches easily, which might be one other reason why buyers should consider a protective case.

The test also included several successive drops from an increased height, which showed the existing cracks would worsen after successive drops. That means you should consider having the phone repaired as soon as possible after the back or front glass cracks. Comparatively, the iPhone 12 Pro Max survived without any glass damage, although the metal frame was scratched throughout the process.

What matters here is that Apple found a way to increase the phone’s durability and reduce the screen damage — and that’s probably the new design. The screen is perfectly flat, and the metal seems to provide additional protection.

The S21 Ultra is the only S21 version to feature curved edges. And cracks appeared along those edges from the first drops.

More test drops like the one below will pop up on YouTube, and it’ll be interesting to see how the regular Galaxy S21 and the S21+ fare in similar tests. But, again, consider getting a screen protector and a case for your Galaxy S21 to reduce the risk of damage.

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.