Consumer Reports runs Apple Watch through scientific torture test

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The Apple Watch glass going through a torture test. Screenshot: Cult of Mac
The Apple Watch glass going through a torture test. Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Consumer Reports has a history of being hard on Apple. They famously refused to recommend the iPhone 4 because of a so-called “flawed” antenna design.

To test the Apple Watch, though, Consumer Reports is being harder on Apple than ever. They’ve run a gamut of torture tests on Apple’s new wearable to see just how hard the sapphire display actually is. Here’s a spoiler: You won’t be able to scratch it with anything short of a nuke. And even the Apple Watch Sport’s display is nearly unscratchable (although it can be cracked).

To test the Apple Watch, Consumer Reports used the Mohs hardness scale, a 203-year-old scale that compares the scratch resistance of minerals relative to one another. In essence, the Mohs hardness scale tries to scratch a material with up to 10 elements, from talc to diamond. If it takes talc to scratch, it’s a 1. If it takes diamond to scratch, it’s a 10.

So how’d the Apple Watch fare?

The sapphire crystal performed as expected, which is to say very well. It survived a 9-rated pick from our kit. The Apple Watch Sport made it up to a 7-rated pick without damage, but was scratched by an 8-rated pick.

So the face of the Apple Watch is definitely harder than that of the Apple Watch Sport. But the performance of the hardened glass of the Sport model is pretty impressive as well. An 8 on the Mohs scale is equivalent to topaz, just one step below sapphire, and it means that it takes quite an abrasive material to scratch Apple’s glass. (We also tried a completely unscientific attempt on the Sport model with a steel key, and it didn’t scratch the glass.)

That’s not to say that the Apple Watch’s display is completely invulnerable to scratches. Consumer Reports points out that if you actually take sandpaper to it, you’ll scratch the screen, but that’s because sandpaper has a material in it that ranks a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. And, of course, the Apple Watch screen can still be shattered. But it should be safe from your keys.

Source: Consumer Reports