iPhone XS and XS Max Survive Liquid Dunk, but Shatter Immediately in Drop Test
Following new iPhone releases, the devices are always subjected to a range of durability tests, and the iPhone XS and XS Max are no exception. Over the weekend, warranty company SquareTrade conducted several tests on the two new smartphones, checking Apple's claims of IP68 water resistance and more durable glass.
According to Apple, the iPhone XS and XS Max are using "the most durable glass ever in a smartphone" and have improved IP68 water resistance, meaning they can withstand water up to two meters deep for approximately 30 minutes.
In SquareTrade's tests, the two iPhones stood up well to liquids, but the more durable glass didn't prevent them from shattering when dropped.
It only took a single back down drop test from a six foot range onto a hard surface for the iPhone XS to shatter entirely, resulting in broken, loose glass across the back of the device. Like the iPhone X, the iPhone XS and XS Max feature glass on the front and back to enable wireless charging.
The result was the same for the iPhone XS Max, with back glass of the smartphone shattering after being dropped from a six-foot height. The stainless steel frames Apple uses for the iPhone XS and XS Max protected the two devices during a side drop test, but the face down drop test also resulted in breakage.
When dropped face down, the iPhone XS suffered a shattered and malfunctioning display, while the iPhone XS Max was impacted with hairline cracks and loose glass but still had a usable display.
After a 60 second tumble test, both the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max were covered in hairline cracks, scratches, and featured loose glass after the damage, and in a pressure-based bend test, the iPhone XS cracked at 250 pounds and the screen failed entirely.
SquareTrade also tested the water resistance of the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max in a novel way, using a 5-foot 30 minute dunk test in a tank filled with 138 cans of beer. Beer was the liquid of choice for the test because Apple mentioned beer resistance during the keynote when the two devices were announced.
Both the iPhone XS and XS Max survived the extended beer bath and were entirely operational afterwards, confirming Apple's water resistance claims.
SquareTrade assigned each iPhone a "Breakability Score" taking into account performance on each of the tests, as broken down in the image below. iPhone XS earned a Breakability Score of 86, classified as "high risk," while iPhone XS Max earned a Breakability Score of 70, classified as "medium risk."
All in all, SquareTrade believes the iPhone XS and XS Max are stronger than the iPhone X, but are still prone to breaking easily given that both devices shattered on the first drop during the drop test.
"We were super impressed with the iPhone XS Max, which is much stronger than its discontinued predecessor, the iPhone X. However, as with the iPhone X, our tests show the all-glass design of the iPhone XS and XS Max make them highly susceptible to cracking, particularly from drops, the most common cause of damage, said Jason Siciliano, vice president global creative director at SquareTrade.
"Repair costs for the new iPhones are expected to be around $399 to replace a front screen and $599 to replace a shattered back. Considering $599 was the cost of the most expensive version of the very first iPhone, repair costs are now something to consider when buying a new iPhone. They're beautiful phones. Just hang on tight."
As with the iPhone X, non-warranty repairs for Apple's all-glass devices are expensive. Without AppleCare+, getting the screen replaced on the iPhone XS costs $279, while a screen repair for the iPhone XS Max costs $329.
Damage to the back of the device falls under the "Other repairs" category, which costs $549 for the iPhone XS and $599 for the iPhone XS Max, making AppleCare+ or a sturdy case a good idea.