I had new expectationsThe phones going in our drop test, even if Galaxy phones are not the most durable . , S21 Plus and Curved displays are not as clear as previous models and all screens are covered in the strongest Gorilla Glass. But let’s say my hopes turned out to be optimistic, and if you’re considering case-lessing with your new Galaxy S21, you might want to read.
While the three Galaxy S21 phones may look similar, the backs are all made of different materials. The S21 Plus and Ultra have glass on both sides, while the back of the regular S21 is made of plastic. Because this difference could affect the durability of the phone, we decided to test both the $ 1,200 (£ 1,149, AU $ 1,849) Galaxy Ultra and the $ 800 (£ 769, AU $ 1,249) Galaxy S21 simultaneously.
A lot of factors go into the screen’s durability, including the size and thickness of the glass, which the manufacturer decides to use. We know from our pastHe is also the strongest There is no match for the pavement, with screen cracking at another drop from hip height. But this does not mean that the S21’s screen will share the same fate: Both have different designs and the thick metal casing protecting the camera looks more robust than the all-glass module on previous Galaxy phones.
For our drop test, ClearTips Senior Video Producer Chris Parker dropped a new Phantom Violet Galaxy S21 and Phantom Black Galaxy S21 Ultra on a concrete pavement.
Drop 1: Pocket Height (3 feet), screen down
- 1 Drop 1: Pocket Height (3 feet), screen down
- 2 Drop 2: Pocket Height (3 ft), Down
- 3 Drop 3: 6ft Back Side Down (S21), Screen Side Down (S21 Ultra)
- 4 A second opinion
- 5 the division
Falling from a pocket or hip height is one of the most common causes of broken screens, especially if your phone lands on a rough surface. We begin all our tests at this height.
Galaxy S21: broken screen
The top left corner of the phone in front of the camera hit the ground first, then the bottom corner, then the entire right side of the phone. This caused a slight back on the floor and a downward bounce on the screen.
The lower left corner of the glass was shattered with some large cracks protruding out of the point of impact, including the shape of a large dome running in the middle of the screen.
Galaxy S21 Ultra: a small leak
The initial impact of the drop seemed to be relatively evenly distributed as the phone hit the floor, the upper edge of the screen hitting the pavement a little earlier than the rest. It then jumped into the air, flipped around and screen-side-up-landed.
What looked like silver sand particles on the top edge of the metal frame on the S21 Ultra was where the paint was scattered, but the screen looked fine. That is, until we noticed a small crack on the top left corner of the phone. It was small enough that if you kept using the phone, it probably wouldn’t bother you, but even then it did not deteriorate in the ideal scenario even after a drop.
Drop 2: Pocket Height (3 ft), Down
To test the durability of the back, Chris mounted the screen facing the phone from the same height. We were obviously not expecting the plastic to break on the S21, but we wanted to see what kind of damage it would cause and how the camera would collapse.
Galaxy S21: minor scratches
The top half of the phone hit the ground first, then the bottom edge leapt into the air and completed a pair before landing back on the pavement with the front facing back.
Save for a few small scrapes on the bottom, there was barely any damage on the plastic back cover, as we expected.
The camera was also in good shape, with no damage to the module or any of its three lenses, which were engraved into the metal casing. Unlike previous Galaxy models, where the entire camera bump is covered in glass, the module on the S21 is mostly metal and only lenses are glass.
Galaxy S21 Ultra: Shattered Back
The phone almost hit the floor, sprung a bit and flattened on its side, facing her back.
The glass back did not survive on the S21 Ultra. It had multiple fractures stemming from the bottom left hand corner and running the entire back of the phone and some loose pieces of glass coming out of the corner where it was hit.
On the other hand the camera module survived relatively unsatisfied, except for a small ding on the metal casing.
Drop 3: 6ft Back Side Down (S21), Screen Side Down (S21 Ultra)
Both phones were torn at this point, but we decided to drop them to one side last time, which suffered the least damage.
Galaxy S21: scuff on camera module
The weight of the camera module should play a role in the landing, as it is the one that breaks down the fall yet. After first hitting the camera, the phone then bounced in the opposite direction and blinked something in the air before settling the screen-side-up on the floor.
As expected, the back of the phone was still in good shape, but with a somewhat more pronounced scrap on the bottom. The top left-hand corner of the metal camera module, which broke the fall, also had noticeable scratches. But the lens remained intact.
Galaxy S21 Ultra: completely shattered screen
The phone landed almost completely in the flat, bounced up and then hit the floor again for the first time.
The small crack at the top corner multiplies into a whole web of cracks covering almost the entire front of the phone. Some were deep enough to penetrate the screen and black out part of the OLED panel. The screen still responded to the touch, but there were small bits of glass coming in, so you didn’t want to use it with the screen protector either. The cracks on the back had also started growing, although they were not as bad as the ones in front.
A second opinion
The Allstate Protection Plan performed a similar drop test on all three Galaxy S21 models with similar results. The screen shattered after the first drop (in this case from 6 feet). The rear of the S21 Plus and S21 Ultra also disintegrated after the second fall from the same height (down on the other side).
Although our tests are not scientific in any way and your results may be completely different if you drop your phone, our Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra broke at the first drop, which was disappointing. The S21 has an edge over the Ultra because you will not back down even if you drop it several times. But you’ll still need to put a case on it to shield the screen and I’d consider investing in Screen Protector as an extra layer of protection as the S21 repairs.. The silver lining is that the camera modules on both phones, which are more expensive to repair, appear to be stronger than previous modules for the new metal casing.
We reached out to Samsung to comment on our results, but did not hear back at publication time.