An iPhone 15 Pro Max came away severely cracked but still completely functional after a punishing series of drop tests.
Apple’s latest performed almost exactly as well as last year’s iPhone 14 Pro Max did on the same tests, despite a recent report that the new model is more fragile than its predecessor.
iPhone 15 Pro Max survives drop tests beaten up but functional
It’s an inescapable fact of life that phones get dropped. Apple makes its handsets so they stand up fairly well to such punishment, but this has to be balanced against users’ desire for a lightweight device.
Apple changes the iPhone design every year to a greater or lesser extent, so new drop tests have to be performed on successive models to see how well they survive crashing to the ground. The YouTube channel PhoneBuff put the iPhone 15 Pro Max through four drop tests to get the latest results.
The first test was a drop of 1 meter (3.3 feet) onto a concrete block, with the device landing on its back. The glass back on the handset broke badly.
While that’s hardly ideal, the same thing happened to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the back plate on the iPhone 13 Pro Max also broke in the same test. The silver lining is that Apple significantly lowered the back glass replacement fee for the iPhone 15 Pro lineup.
Next, PhoneBuff dropped iPhone 15 Pro Max onto its corner. The new titanium chassis came away essentially unscathed. The new metal did much better on this test than its predecessors’ stainless steel casings.
The harshest test is a face-down 1-meter drop onto concrete. The glass cover over the LCD shattered, though the touchscreens continued to function, as did the Face ID scanner. The front glass of the two previous Pro Max models also broke in this test.
The final test was a drop of 1.45 meters (4.8 feet), with the front of the device hitting steel. This appears to be a torture test to see how well an already heavily damaged device survives further punishment. The answer: not well.
At the end of all four rounds of tests, with both the front and back glass shattered, the iPhone 15 Pro Max remained fully functional.
Phones are somewhat fragile
At the end of the punishing drop tests, the newest Pro Max was in terrible shape. But the iPhone 14 Pro Max was in just as bad a shape after the same tests. And PhoneBuff did a head-to-head comparison with the Galaxy S23 Ultra, and the Samsung model came away only slightly less damaged after repeated drops.
There’s no evidence that Apple’s switch to titanium in the 2023 Pro series made a significant difference to drop survivability. The titanium itself did better, but it brought no additional protection to the glass portions of the handset.
Watch the video to see the iPhone drop tests for yourself:
Ignore non-scientific tests
A series of drop tests done on the launch day of the iPhone 15 series found that the new Pro Max was easier to break than the 2022 version. That does not jibe at all with PhoneBuff‘s more rigorous testing.
The difference almost certainly stems from how the two sets of tests were carried out. PhoneBuff did its testing under carefully measured conditions, while AppleTrack’s Sam Kohl simply dropped his devices on the sidewalk. One is done scientifically, and one is not.
And while Kohl throwing the handset off a building is certainly fun and exciting, it’s not clear whether the result is useful.