iPhone SE May Be Powerful, but It’s Far from Sturdy

April 4, 2016

9:39 am

Unlike Kimmy Schmidt, Apple’s newest iPhone offering, the iPhone SE, is not, unbreakable. The iPhone SE (Special Edition), which was released in the US a couple weeks ago, is what Apple calls “the most powerful phone with a four-inch display.” It looks much like the 5S, and while not as highly anticipated as the iPhone 7 that is slated to come out later this year, it is supposedly one of the most powerful iPhones to date, powered by A9 SoC and M9 coprocessors.

While it may be a powerful little phone, its smaller, sturdier appearance, may be deceiving. Protection plan company SquareTrade ran the SE through the ringer alongside its 6 and 6S cousins to see how it stood up to different stresses. They submerged the phones in water, dropped them at different heights and ankles, and applied pressure until the phones bent in half.

The results are somewhat surprising when compared to the larger and thinner iPhones. In every test it was put through, the iPhone SE fared worse than the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus.

“The iPhone 6S proved that thinner and bigger phones aren’t necessarily less durable than more compact phones like the iPhone SE,” said Aileen Abaya, director of communications at SquareTrade, in a statement. “However, it’s important to remember that no phone is perfect. No matter the size and weight of a phone, accidental drops – especially on a sidewalk – can still cause its demise.”

Here are some of the results from SquareTrade’s Breakability tests:

  1. The iPhone SE is not bend-proof: It bent at 160 lbs and reached catastrophic failure at 178lbs, which means its thicker body does not prevent it from being broken in half. The thinner iPhone 6s didn’t bend until 10 pounds later and the 6s Plus withstood twenty additional pounds before bending.
  2. The iPhone 6S outlasts its siblings underwater: the iPhone SE proved to be the least water resistant by far. Submerged under five feet of water in the Deep Water DunkBot, the iPhone SE permanently shut off in less than a minute. In comparison, the iPhone 6s survived a full 30 minutes and only lost audio and iPhone 6s Plus started malfunctioning at 10 minutes and eventually died.
  3. Tumbling isn’t a big problem for the iPhone SE: Your iPhone SE might survive a run through the dryer. During the tumbling test, the iPhone SE only sustained minor scuffs on its corners after 30 seconds within the TumbleBot. The iPhone 6s Plus suffered a shattered screen and surprisingly, the iPhone 6s came out unscathed.
  4. No iPhone can survive facedown drops: This is something I’ve learned from personal experience. This is the only test where the iPhone SE did not necessarily fare worse, because all of the phone screens shattered after the first facedown drop from six feet high.
  5. Corner drops are just as dangerous for the iPhone SE: After five drops on its corner, the iPhone SE started cracking across its screen. By the tenth drop, the phone had completely split along its side. Meanwhile, the bigger 6s and 6s Plus only had minor cosmetic damage after 10 drops. Lesson here: don’t repeatedly drop your iPhone on its corner.

View the breakability tests for yourself here:



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Kristin is an aspiring entrepreneur who is enthusiastically navigating her way through the DC startup space. She has an unending passion for learning and is never satisfied with the status quo. During the day she is an ops, biz dev, and marketing maven for Fission Strategy

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