iPhone 11 Is Most Durable iPhone Ever, According to New Tests

(Image credit: SquareTrade)

Our iPhone 11 Pro may not have fared well when we dropped it on the pavement outside New York's Apple Store, but an extended warranty service provider says its testing indicates Apple's latest smartphones are the toughest the company has ever built.

To be sure, the iPhone models SquareTrade put to the test since the iPhone 11 lineup hit stores last Friday did not emerge from the firm's drop test unscathed. But even after picking up dings and cracks from tumble tests, drops and dunks in water, the iPhones lived up to Apple's durability claims, SquareTrade concluded.

The extended warranty firm gave the iPhone 11 Pro a Breakability Score of 65, meaning it's a medium risk to break due to an accident. The iPhone 11's Breakability score of 73 makes it a medium-high risk, according to SquareTrade, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max is at the highest risk of breaking with a score of 85.

(Image credit: SquareTrade)

Apple doesn't claim that its new phones are indestructible, but it does say that the iPhone 11 family is more durable than the iPhones that came before it. The less expensive iPhone 11 as well as the pricey iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models all claim to have tougher glass on the front and back.

SquareTrade's testing indicates that's true, though up to a point. On the plus side, the iPhone 11 Pro became the first phone to ever emerge from SquareTrade's tumble test with no damage. The glass panels on the back of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Max cracked in this test, where the phones are tossed around for 60 seconds.

Apple's new phones also fared well in SquareTrade's bend test. While the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro both bent at 250 pounds of pressure, neither one cracked. (For context, that's the same bending point of the iPhone X, SquareTrade says.) The iPhone 11 Pro Max beta little earlier, at 230 pounds of pressure, and it did crack to the point where the phone was unusable.

In drop tests, all three iPhones cracked when dropped face-first onto a sidewalk from 6 feet, matching our experience. When dropped on their back, all three phones suffered damage, with the iPhone 11 Pro shattering around the camera lenses; the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max both saw damage to their camera lenses. Despite that, SquareTrade says the cameras on all three models continued to function.

These results merly underscore our usual advice about smartphones — even if the iPhone 11 is more durable than anything Apple's produced before, you're still going to want to pick up a case for your phone, whether that's an iPhone 11 case or a case for one of the iPhone 11 Pro models.

SquareTrade also submerges phones in water to test their water resistance claims. The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro both came away with audio distortion issues after spending 30 minutes in 5 feet of water — surprising given that the iPhone 11 is supposed to be able to withstand about 6.5 feet of water (2 meters) while the iPhone 11 Pro Max boasts a water resistance of up to 13 feet (4 meters). The iPhone 11 Pro, which has the same water resistance rating as the iPhone 11 Pro Max, came away from SquareTrade's dunk test without any damage.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.