iPhone 11 Pro Drop Test: Here's How Durable It Is

iphone 11 pro drop test cracked front
(Image credit: Future)

We have bad news. Apple claims that the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have the "toughest glass ever in a smartphone," but our drop tests don't exactly back that up.

Why? Because our $999 iPhone 11 Pro cracked on the very first drop on a sidewalk from hip height. That's not very high. The good news? The back of the phone proved more durable.

Here's the breakdown on how the iPhone 11 Pro fared on our drop tests. 

Editors' Note: Our drop test is not scientific and involved a single iPhone 11 Pro unit. Our aim was to see how well the device would hold up in a couple of real-world scenarios.

iPhone 11 Pro drop test: Hip height on face

iphone 11 pro drop test

(Image credit: Future)

To see how durable our gold iPhone 11 Pro is, I first dropped the handset from about hip height on concrete. In this case we're talking about 3.5 feet, which is not very high.

Right outside the Apple store where people where lining up to buy Apple's new phones, I let the iPhone 11 Pro go, and the results were not great.

iphone 11 pro drop test

(Image credit: Future)

As I turned over the iPhone 11 Pro I saw large cracks in the upper left corner and a finer hairline crack running diagonally across the front of the 5.8-inch OLED display from the top left to the bottom right. 

Obviously, this was a disappointing result. Last year we dropped an iPhone XS from 3 feet, 5 feet and even 11 feet, and it did not crack. However, we dropped that phone indoors last year on a treated concrete, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

iPhone 11 Pro drop test: Hip height on back

For round two of our iPhone 11 Pro drop test we attempted to drop the device on its back from the same hip height. On the first attempt, the iPhone 11 Pro landed on its edge, and we didn't see any damage on the back. However, the cracks on the front became more pronounced, likely from the force of the impact.

iphone 11 pro drop test round 2 back

(Image credit: Future)

Next, I tried to drop the iPhone 11 Pro again so that it landed flat on its back and it worked. This time the result was a pleasant surprise. I didn't notice any damage on the rear of the phone. Not a crack or even a scuff. I obviously can't say whether the back of the iPhone 11 Pro is stronger, but this was still encouraging to see.

iPhone 11 Pro drop test: Shoulder height on back

iphone 11 pro drop test round 3 cracked back

(Image credit: Future)

Since the iPhone 11 Pro's front was cracked at this point, we wanted to see if the back of Apple's flagship could handle another drop. This time we chose shoulder height to provide more of a challenge.

This time the iPhone 11 Pro's back cracked in multiple places on the top third of the device. There were several cracks in the right corner and one crack that swooped from the left to right side.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that the iPhone 11 Pro was still usable. I could still open apps and take photos, though I wouldn't want to touch the top part of the screen due to all of the cracks.

Bottom line

iphone 11 pro drop test round 2 front

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, I really like all three new iPhones, thanks to Apple's camera advancements and other upgrades. In fact, both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max have landed on our list of best smartphones.

However, I'm not impressed with the iPhone 11 Pro's durability based on our limited testing. Do I think Apple's toughness claims are complete bunk? Not necessarily.

While appearing on TV recently discussing the iPhone 11, an anchor took dropped it on stage, both front and back, from about 5 feet. And the unit survived without a scratch. This was a different surface, but it does show that the iPhone 11 units can at least take a bit of a beating.

The bottom line is this. If you want your iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max to have a better chance of surviving unscathed for a few years, invest in an iPhone 11 case.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.